ATO services go down again

The Australian Taxation Office has suffered another unplanned outage of key online services.

The agency’s ATO SBR1 and ATO SBR2 production environments “are currently experiencing system issues,” a system status message issued by the ATO said. “This is currently being investigated as a matter of high priority.”

“The ATO is experiencing issues relating to the hardware faults that occurred in December,” said a statement issued by the agency.

“We are replacing the affected hardware, but this process will take some time. Unfortunately, these issues are impacting services including the Tax Agent, Business and BAS Portals, ATO online, the Australian Business Register (ABR), Standard Business Reporting (SBR), and Superannuation online services.”

Update 4.30pm AEDT: “Unfortunately we are continuing to experience issues with the systems impacted by this morning’s outage. These systems will not be available today,” the ATO said in a statement. “We are working to resolve these issues as a priority, and will continue to keep the community informed of our progress.”

The problems come ahead of planned system maintenance this weekend, as the ATO continues to recover from the 12 December outage.

Key systems were rendered unusable for several days in December after a problem with ATO storage infrastructure.

In a letter to tax practitioners last month, ATO chief information officer Ramez Katf said that the problem that took down some of the agency’s core systems was unlikely to happen again.

“The events of 12 December 2016 are unique and unlikely to be repeated,” Katf wrote in his letter.

The underlying cause of the outage was the failure of an HP Enterprise storage system, with both the primary and backup systems affected.

“This was a contemporary piece of hardware that was considered state of the art when it was upgraded only a little over 12 months ago,” the CIO wrote in his letter.

“As you can appreciate we have escalated this to the most senior people from our partner organisation, Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE), to seek an appropriate response.

“We are working with HPE to understand the exact nature of the problem. They have assured us that this is a unique incident that has not been experienced in this type of hardware elsewhere in the world.”

The ATO is conducting an investigation of the outage. It announced in January that it has also commissioned PwC to conduct an independent review of the events.

The PwC review is due to be finalised in March.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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