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SSP Worldwide blames engineers at London datacentre for new cloud outage

Insurance software provider says latest service outage was caused by power problems at third-party datacentre site

SSP Worldwide is under fire again after its colocation provider suffered a power outage that left customers unable to access its cloud-based insurance software services on 19 January.

The incident left insurance brokers unable to access the SSP Pure Broking platform for several hours on Thursday afternoon, and SSP was quick to blame the Powergate Data Centre used to host its services for the downtime.

In a statement, the company said the power supply problem was caused by datacentre engineers at Powergate carrying out routine maintenance at the site, and had nothing to do with SSP directly.

“At 12:42pm, the Powergate Data Centre used by SSP services was affected by a loss of power and is not a Pure Broking problem,” the statement said. “The loss was a direct result of ‘routine maintenance’ carried out by the facility engineers at the Powergate site.

“SSP has confirmed the interruption of service does not stem from any SSP solution. The interruption of service is a direct result of the ‘routine maintenance’ carried out by the facility engineers. SSP was assured in advance that the ‘routine maintenance’ would not affect any services.”

Many of the affected customers criticised the firm on social media site Twitter for allowing one of its third-party service providers to carry out routine maintenance in the middle of the working day, and for not apologising for the inconvenience caused by its latest downtime.

Insurance brokers use the SSP Pure Broking cloud platform to issues quotes and track customer policy renewals, but since late August 2016 the platform has suffered intermittent service problems that have left users struggling to trade on a day-to-day basis.

The worst incident lasted two weeks, ending in early September 2016, after the company’s Solihull datacentre suffered a power outage.

Read more about SSP Worldwide’s cloud outages

At the time, the firm was in the process of decommissioning the site, and migrating customers to facilities at Powergate, in Acton, west London, and to another in Northampton.

The series of incidents resulted in the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) chairing a meeting between affected customers and SSP Worldwide’s senior management team in October 2016, when the firm assured attendees that it was taking steps to prevent future outages.

The meeting also saw BIBA pledge to conduct a “full and thorough” review of the disaster recovery strategies of six major insurance software houses in the wake of SSP’s service issues.

In a statement to Computer Weekly, BIBA CEO Steve White said the association had no comment to make on SSP’s latest downtime, but its review was making good progress.

“Our broker software resilience project is under way and we will be reporting our findings to members by the end of the first quarter of 2017,” said White.

Read more on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)