Lloyds excuse for IT glitch not plausible, says bank IT expert

Lloyds Banking Group’s statement that a server problem caused a three hour service disruption for customers is not plausible but problems with failover systems could be at fault

Lloyds Banking Group’s claim that a server problem caused a three-hour service disruption for customers is not plausible, a senior banking IT professional has said, but problems with failover systems could be at fault.

The bank said a problem with one of its servers caused the IT glitch that left customers unable to get to their money for three hours. Other reports said two servers were at fault.

Customers were unable to make payments using debit cards and about 7000 ATMs were offline in the latest in a series of retail banking IT problems.

A senior banking IT professional said the cause is deeper than a server or two failing: “A single server failure is not plausible as the banks all have multiple layers of equipment redundancy and failover. I think what they are really saying is the layers of redundancy and failover did not work and it wouldn't be the first time.”

He said all banks have tens of thousands of servers and many of them fail every day. "This is part of normal business and the architecture and processes are designed to prevent single points of failure causing an incident.”

He said failover systems are often not tested or refreshed for years because it is not required that often.

He added that it is easier for a bank to blame suppliers and equipment rather than admit a problem on their part, which could affect customer confidence.

“I expect the real cause will never be revealed as it may affect public confidence or trigger more political and regulatory debate about what services banks rely on third parties to provide.”

Rik Turner, financial services analyst at Ovum, said if the failure of a couple of servers can cause a problem like the one experienced by Lloyds, it would almost certainly ensure they were backed up properly.

“What Lloyds has said about the servers seems more like a holding excuse,” he said.

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