[LINK] Power failure lasting 36 hours cripples hospital care

David Lochrin dlochrin at d2.net.au
Wed May 6 13:06:46 EST 2009


On Wednesday 06 May 2009 10:56, Glen Turner wrote:
> In an age where university e-mail systems are often hosted
> across two sites to give maximum availability, why are all
> NSW health records vulnerable to any form of single failure?
> 
> Clustering and failover isn't rocket science any more, but
> a standard feature of a typical database.

Such a failure is just scandalous IMO, and should result in the resignation of the appropriate Minister.  I wonder if the individuals responsible have ever heard of risk analysis?

Why isn't the grid power supply backed up by a no-break diesel generator?

As for clustering, 10 or 15 years ago some NSW health systems were indeed clustered using DEC VMS disk shadowing at sites directly connected with a microwave link.  (I'm pretty sure disk shadowing was used, not just transaction journalling.)

Redundant power isn't the only problem with a centralised system of such critical importance.  There's also the problem of network redundancy and, indeed, instant fallback in the event of a catastrophic failure.

The whole episode has the smell of a project driven by politicians and bureaucrats wanting a political result rather than a properly engineered system.  Good engineering always costs money.

David


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