A power surge following a power outage damaged servers and ultimately led to an IT failure that caused 75,000 British Airways (BA) passengers to become stranded last weekend, Reuters reports, citing a new statement released by BA Wednesday.
BA says the power failure occurred at a data center near Heathrow airport. The subsequent power surge was enough to knock out BA’s flight, baggage and communication systems.
- "There was a total loss of power at the data center. The power then returned in an uncontrolled way causing physical damage to the IT servers," BA said in a statement. "It was not an IT issue, it was a power issue."
Many have questioned how a power outage could inflict so much damage on BA’s systems, and why a backup system didn’t kick in. Most companies use redundant systems in multiple locations to ensure they don’t have such issues, and a big company like BA getting knocked out for days by a simple power outage seems unfathomable.
"So far, the information coming out of BA is both puzzling and incomplete; it is certainly not yet clear or detailed enough to give a detailed critique, other than to say that all data centers are designed to deal with problems of this nature, including BA’s," said Andy Lawrence, vice president of Research for Datacenter Technologies at 451 Research. "Some systems in the power chain clearly failed to perform as expected."
Lawrence pointed out that Delta Airlines’ outage last year was also caused by a power surge, a backup system failure, and consequent IT systems failures.
"Airlines have particular problems because a short failure has huge knock on problems that take days to fix," said Lawrence.