Delta Down and Cloud Outages...What Happened?

Delta Airlines Cloud Down




Outage Track Records

Because this not the first PSS meltdown this year, a number of individuals have attacked the TPF operating system and mainframes as aging technology unable to keep up with the demands of the 21st century.

However, neither outage (Delta's or Southwest's) was caused by the mainframe systems. Southwest Airline's downtime was the result of a faulty network router.

The availability of TPF systems, which run many of the major airline reservation systems and a number of banking systems, is amongst the best in the world.

Most of these mainframes, which handle up to 60,000 transactions/second, are up 100 percent of the time for years while others have 5 minutes or less downtime a year (99.999 percent availability). It is the exception that does not meet that rigorous standard.

That is not to say the user enjoys that level of uptime since there are many more components (usually thousands or tens of thousands) involved in the end-to-end experience.

As most system architects know, the more components involved in a system the greater the probability of failure.

I know some readers will say that this is not true for cloud environments, which take advantage of the latest technologies. While it may be true theoretically that cloud instances can be orchestrated so that there are no outages, the reality infringes on the concept – because there is more to the ecosystems than just the servers and software instances.

The chart below summarizes just some of the outages experienced this year alone in the cloud.

Source: CRN July 27, 2016 on 10 biggest cloud outages

The reality remains that the larger, more complex the systems, the greater the probability for downtime – cloud or no cloud. Moreover, due to the complexity of large systems, it may take longer to identify and fix the problem.

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About the author

Cal Braunstein

Mr. Braunstein serves as Chairman/CEO and Executive Director of Research at the Robert Frances Group (RFG). In addition to his corporate role, he helps his clients wrestle with a range of business, management, regulatory, and technology issues. 
He has deep and broad experience in business strategy management, business process management, enterprise systems architecture, financing, mission-critical systems, project and portfolio management, procurement, risk management, sustainability, and vendor management. Cal also chaired a Business Operational Risk Council whose membership consisted of a number of top global financial institutions.