This year has seen an inordinate number of IT meltdowns. Computer glitches have grounded planes, tampered with the stock market, ruined travel plans, and resulted in stolen credit cards. They have also led to life-threatening situations by disrupting healthcare and emergency services.
Here’s a recap of 2017’s biggest IT disasters to remind us how much we rely on and are dependent on data systems.
Atlanta-based Delta, the second-largest U.S. airline, canceled 150 US flights on January 29th due to a computer systems outage. This is after Delta cancelled more than 2,000 flights over three days after a computer breakdown last August, according to Associated Press reports. At British Airways, serious problems with their IT systems led to thousands of passengers having their travel plans disrupted, with all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick cancelled.
In Melbourne, Metro’s automatic train control center failed on July 14th, causing train controllers’ screens to go blank, forcing all the trains to come to a halt since no one knew their location. Trains pulled up, either at platforms or in between stations, and sat there for over an hour while staff in Metro’s nerve center raced to identify the problem and get the system back online. Tens of thousands of commuters were impacted.
Stock Market Crash
The share prices of major tech companies seemed to be off the charts on the eve of the July 4th holiday, the result of a market data glitch caused by human error. Some websites incorrectly reported Amazon (AMZN) plummeting 87%, Apple (AAPL) dropping 14% and Microsoft (MSFT) soaring to 79% in the late hours of July 3rd. If the data was true, the recorded 87% plunge in Amazon stock would have wiped nearly $400 billion off the company's market capitalization. NASDAQ explained that the data that was sent out was part of 'normal evening test procedures'.
Healthcare Held Ransom
On May 12 of this year, a strain of ransomware called WannaCry spread around the world, hitting hundreds of thousands of targets, including public utilities and large corporations. The ransomware hit National Health Service hospitals and facilities in the United Kingdom, side-lining emergency rooms, delaying life-sustaining medical procedures, and causing havoc for many British patients.
Personal Data Leaks
In February of 2017, Cloudflare, an internet infrastructure company, determined that a glitch in its platform caused the leakage of potentially sensitive customer data, which was cached by search engines. Cloudflare provides performance and security services for approximately six million customer websites including heavy hitters like Fitbit and OKCupid. The problem was discovered on February 17, but the data leakage could have started as early as September 22, 2016.
Delayed Emergency Services
Computer glitches also interfered with Andersen County's emergency response times in South Carolina in the US. Screens froze while dispatchers typed information to be relayed to paramedics, firefighters or law enforcement officials. What the dispatcher typed didn’t show up on the screens, calls were rerouted to other dispatchers with working computer systems or the information was handwritten on a scrap of paper. The computer failures also made it almost impossible for dispatchers to find addresses or track ambulances.
The good news is that there are solutions that help monitor system performance and ensure that such disasters are avoided.
Integration platforms gather all the data required for predicting, with a certain level of accuracy, the amount of processing power needed to help manage the highest volume of transactions, and make sure the necessary capacity is available with built-in backup systems for 24/7 reliability. By enabling systems to share data and automatically update each other, integration platforms streamline IT operations and lower the risk of manual data entry errors. A robust process-based integration platform can use certified connectors to bring together systems from all of the major vendors.
With more and more organizations relying on data to manage their businesses, IT governance will be a top priority in 2018. Integration platforms can be the extra insurance policy to prevent data disasters from disrupting and sometimes even endangering peoples’ lives.