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ATO 'Making Systems More Resilient' After Outages

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

01 January 2018

The Australian Taxation Office has hailed the "strong progress" made in ensuring the performance standard of its IT systems, following a series of outages earlier this year.

The ATO suffered major system outages in December 2016 and February 2017, caused by multiple failures on its primary Storage Area Network (SAN). In June, the ATO confirmed that the storage system had been rebuilt.

The ATO released its own report into the outages in June. It also commissioned professional services firm PwC to investigate the causes and impact of the system failures.

The PwC report has now been released in full. It confirmed that the disruption was caused by "multiple component failures on the data storage system." The SAN was unable to "auto recover" from these component failures and to provide read/write services to the applications and services it supported. This led to a significant outage, PwC said.

PwC added that the ATO was then unable to restore services, due to a previously unknown issue with one of the SAN components, and because aspects of the SAN design and build adopted by the service provider had made the SAN less resilient in the face of potential technical failures.

However, PwC did note that "the absence of definitive evidence on the specific conditions (or combination of conditions) that led to technical failures means that a level of residual risk still exists." It made a number of recommendations designed to minimize the risk of a recurrence of the issues experienced, including the replacement of the existing infrastructure with a new SAN.

The ATO said that it is "well-advanced in implementing the recommendations of both reports, including fixing irritants and enhancing systems performance, refreshing the tax and BAS Agent Portal to better meet the needs of the tax profession, and improving our IT design and governance."

The ATO added that it will "build on this progress in 2018 to provide a better experience for all taxpayers, tax and super professionals, and digital service providers who use our systems."

TAGS: tax | revenue guidance | Australia | tax authority | professionals | services

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