ATO prepares to roll out new SAN

Key Australian Taxation Office services will be taken offline while the new SAN is progressively installed

The ATO suffered major outages in December and February.

The ATO suffered major outages in December and February.

The Australian Taxation Office is preparing to progressively install a new storage-area network to replace the HP Enterprise SAN blamed for major outages of ATO services in December and February.

The ATO has scheduled maintenance windows for three weekends in March, April and May to install the new SAN. During the maintenance periods, the agency expects a number of its key online services to be unavailable, including ato.gov.au and its tax agent, BAS agent and business portals.

The ATO’s current SAN, which was installed in November 2015, is being replaced “with a better one, a newer one,” Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan told a Senate Estimates hearing earlier this month.

Jordan said that HPE had told him ahead of the 1 March hearing that the current SAN “has now been stabilised and will perform as required to handle the usual volumes and traffic associated with lodgement cycles”.

“We are in the process of putting in place much more bulletproof, more extensive, newer equipment with a series of additional functions and aspects,” Jordan said. “I am told it will be the most solid equipment in any Hewlett-Packard installation in the world.”

The December and February outages are currently the subject of an ATO-commissioned review by PwC. The agency expects PwC’s review to be completed by the end of this month.

Jordan told the Estimates hearing that it is likely that some parts of the report will not be released publicly “due to legal and commercial sensitivities”.

HPE is also conducting a review of the outage.

“They will be doing forensic testing of the cables and the disks and the SAN array itself once we have shifted to a new facility,” Jordan said.

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“Hewlett Packard advise that the forensic analysis will not take place until about June, which is the time we will fully migrate to a new system and they will transport the equipment to the US to their labs — so not until the hardware has been physically removed and sent to the labs in the US..”

Jordan said that 67,000 of the HPE 3Par SANs are in use around the globe “supporting major business operations, including mission-critical ones like trading floors and banking platforms”

“We have two of those 67,000. Nothing like the failure we experienced has been experienced by any Hewlett Packard client before, so this was an extremely unusual and unfortunate event.”

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