DFAT satisfied with Passports system

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DFAT satisfied with Passports system

Hardware crash took site offline for a week.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has investigated a hardware failure that caused its Passport applications web site to go offline for a week and is satisfied that the right IT infrastructure and processes were in place.

The Passports website went offline last Tuesday due to a “critical hardware failure” on servers and storage devices powering the site. The site came back online yesterday.

A spokesperson for DFAT said the systems were offline for so long in order to verify data quality, but would not elaborate further on the cause of the problem or say whether the data for any passport applications had been corrupted.

While the department has a failover system in place, this was "not able to be used as the same hardware failure had also affected its failover capability," the spokesperson said.

It appears the primary and secondary servers are housed in the same cluster, but the spokesperson did not elaborate on the specific configuration of its IT systems.

"The failure was a rare event under any conditions and does not require a change in our overall hosting strategy. No action can be taken to further assure the reliability of hardware components and their manufacturing tolerances."

Other back-end functions continued to operate and were not affected, the spokesperson said. 

“The website outage did not affect the ability of clients to obtain an Australian passport. Applications continued to be processed within our ten-day Client Service Charter,” it said.

In March DFAT announced plans to replace its 14-year-old application and issuing system, prior to its 2015 end-of-life date.

The Department said at the time that the existing system was nearing capacity, with demand for passports set to rise from 1.7 million in 2009-10 to more than two million by 2015.

DFAT has contracted Fujitsu for the system replacement. 

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