CSC 'learnt' from Maidstone datacentre crash

Guy Hains, the president of Computer Sciences Corporation's Europe Group, has spoken of the causes and lessons learned from a crash at the company's Maidstone datacentre last year.

Guy Hains, the president of Computer Sciences Corporation's Europe Group, has spoken of the causes and lessons learned from a crash at the company's Maidstone datacentre last year.

The crash caused a loss of systems for NHS trusts on an unprecedented scale. About 80 NHS trusts lost the use of some of their main IT systems for several days.

" I believe that the biggest risk in the computer industry generally at the moment is unreliable power supply. Generally across the world power has become more spiky which is ruinous to any sort of IT system,” Hains told a Health Committee inquiry into aspects of the NHS's National Programme for IT [NPfIT]:

CSC ran into difficulties after power problems caused a short circuit which damaged a storage device. The firm had to bring experts over from Japan to fix the problem.

"We transferred the operation between our Maidstone centre and the reserve centre which was effected without data loss, as was the pass back to the primary data site some weeks later. We learnt several things from that.

"First, we learnt that as we scale up the system it is better to have four centres than two, which is what we have invested in, so that data is now not only mirrored but effectively held simultaneously in two places.

"Second, out of that experience with the authority we have tightened our targets and expectations of how quickly systems need to be brought up,” he said.

Under the new plans, the expectation is that key systems are back on line within 24 hours, rather than 72 hours previously. Other more critical systems are back online sooner.

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