British Airways

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fixitagis
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British Airways

Postby fixitagis » Sat May 27, 2017 9:24 pm

So BA outsourced critical IT functions to India, and has now reaped the rewards.
As an observing former customer, i would have thought first class IT was a critical core competence .... And yet ....

.... They obviously think its the brand value, which has just crashed for thousands of actual customers.

An Amazing situation. Im glad i stopped flying BA 10 years ago. They were poor then, amd obviously much worse now.

Roll on Brexit!

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Re: British Airways

Postby mickbald » Sat May 27, 2017 9:38 pm

I'm not sure the problem has been identified yet.

But I'm not convinced that Indians managing the IT industry in the UK would fare better than Indians running it in UK. Or any other national come to that.

Or what Brexit has got to do with it.

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Re: British Airways

Postby fixitagis » Sat May 27, 2017 9:47 pm

Straw donkeys?

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Re: British Airways

Postby wyjsar » Sat May 27, 2017 9:48 pm

Mick,
From what is reported you have the nail on the head. What I see tonight is that the issue is regarding a power outage and therefore BA's lack of hot standby for a critical system (which may not have been identified as critical before now) may be the problem. And therefore, if true, nothing to do with competence of offshore competence.
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Re: British Airways

Postby fixitagis » Sat May 27, 2017 9:53 pm

Ah yes, power stability in India is world class, Which I forgot. Apologies.

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Re: British Airways

Postby Attonine » Sun May 28, 2017 1:42 am

Well, it depends I suppose.

I'm currently working on a project in Mauritania involving the construction of new airports and installation of a new national RADAR system - among other things. Part of the spec is that there is a stable power supply - kind of a necessity. No mean feat for Mauritania, power is a problem here. However, installing a duplicate, redundant, power supply as a backup, plus SOLAR farms, ensures a stable power supply.

Now, Mauritania has a much inferior power supply situation to, say, India. But, for this project, as required, a stable power supply has been established.

Point is, stable power supply depends on the will of those implementing the project.

Are we sure the issue is India based, as opposed to a project developed in India but implemented in the UK?

My experience with IT and India is a bit old now, the last time I had to deal with it was nearly 20 years ago. I seem to remember the Indians were very good at sitting down and writing the code. They were very poor at the creative side of the projects, coming up with solutions for the problems. Once all that was done though, the Indians were great at just sitting down and getting the plan coded. I'm guessing things may have moved on a bit and that they have probably made huge steps in the planning side of things.
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Re: British Airways

Postby wyjsar » Sun May 28, 2017 6:40 am

fixitagis wrote:Ah yes, power stability in India is world class, Which I forgot. Apologies.

Outsourcing coding and support to India doesn't mean that the data centre(s) have also been migrated to India...
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Re: British Airways

Postby zippy » Sun May 28, 2017 8:24 am

As someone who worked for many years in IT for British Airways, I find it difficult to envisage any event short of nuclear war that would cause a total outage for a whole day.
When I was there, there were backups and contingencies for everything, including a power failure. I remember having to work overnight one time to fix a major data loss. Hard work but it was fixed ready for the next days flights and disruption was only minimal.

I can't see how the outsourcing issue has anything to do with it EXCEPT if the system was sabotaged from within, maybe by a disgruntled IT worker. That cause would explain the whole thing. I don't think B.A. would ever admit that to be the cause though..
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Re: British Airways

Postby mickbald » Sun May 28, 2017 11:35 am

I agree zippy. A service of this importance will almost certainly be designed for what is called "5 9's availability" which is 99.999% or 5.26 min downtime a year.

This is achieved by duplicating everything from the incoming mains supply through the UPS, generators and control systems to the IT hardware and backup.

Their Disaster Recovery Plan should make an outage as long as this impossible even with a catastrophic failure of the mains control unit which would be the only part of the system that could take everything down.

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Re: British Airways

Postby fixitagis » Mon May 29, 2017 7:23 am

Lets see if it was designed for 5 x 9 reliability. After all, it failed for just over 2 days, and for the third time since last June.
Seems like wishful thinking to me....and the trend was there.

More likely it had a thoeretical single backup, which was not robustly tested, and self evidently didn't work.

I wonder why? Usual causes most likely .... Cost saving, bad planning, and the usual classic "bad luck". But as they say in my industry, if you dont approach the probem correctly, million to one chances occur 9 times out of 10.

Chances are this will become a text book case study of how not to outsource IT to low cost providers. Not so low cost now is it. With 300,000 people effected this could easily top £100m, and 3-5 x that in the medium term as a result of lost custom.

I think BA needs to put the customer experience at the centre of what they do again. They ditched this around 12-15 years ago, and have been spinning it (down) ever since.

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Re: British Airways

Postby wyjsar » Mon May 29, 2017 8:57 am

Chances are this will become a text book case study of how to theorise about a subject on which the author doesn't have the first clue.
fixitagis wrote:Lets see if it was designed for 5 x 9 reliability. After all, it failed for just over 2 days, and for the third time since last June.
Seems like wishful thinking to me....and the trend was there.

More likely it had a thoeretical single backup, which was not robustly tested, and self evidently didn't work.

I wonder why? Usual causes most likely .... Cost saving, bad planning, and the usual classic "bad luck". But as they say in my industry, if you dont approach the probem correctly, million to one chances occur 9 times out of 10.

Chances are this will become a text book case study of how not to outsource IT to low cost providers.

Chances are this will become a text book case study of how to theorise about a subject on which the author doesn't have the first clue.
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Re: British Airways

Postby angelface » Mon May 29, 2017 10:06 am

In the 90's I worked for an engineering design office as computer manager. They told me the system had to be available 100 % of the time. They quickly changed their mine when I started talking about redundant servers etc.

Sounds like one economy saving too many to me..
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Re: British Airways

Postby mickbald » Mon May 29, 2017 10:20 am

In my post above I said "A service of this importance will almost certainly be designed for what is called "5 9's availability"

I should have said "A service of this importance should almost certainly be designed for what is called "5 9's availability"

My last job was UK service delivery manager for the Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity service we sold. There is no way an outage of this length would be acceptable.

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Re: British Airways

Postby fixitagis » Mon May 29, 2017 7:29 pm

mickbald wrote:In my post above I said "A service of this importance will almost certainly be designed for what is called "5 9's availability"

I should have said "A service of this importance should almost certainly be designed for what is called "5 9's availability"

My last job was UK service delivery manager for the Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity service we sold. There is no way an outage of this length would be acceptable.


I'm responsible for a team that designs critical control systems for utilities, and something like this is unthinkable, and easy to avoid if thought through, and all risk mitigations properly validated and tested. Lots of people will be keen to find out went wrong here, because if they are following best practice, it needs to change.

Seems the BBC is reporting £30m / day, and around 3% of shares price of a group worth £13bn, and "a" (ie single) backup failure. Very expensive. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40083778

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Re: British Airways

Postby fixitagis » Wed May 31, 2017 5:32 am

Seems the failure might be to do with an old system at Heathrow ...influenced by making lots of UK IT workers redundant ? Not properly addressed on the outsourcing plan?


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