[clug] [OT] Virgin Blue outage: All things come back to Open Source?

Daniel Pittman daniel at rimspace.net
Mon Sep 27 19:51:55 MDT 2010

steve jenkin <sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au> writes:

> A Good write up of the recent Virgin Blue outage.  Wonder if we'll ever hear
> the full facts?:
> <http://www.zdnet.com/blog/projectfailures/cloud-based-it-failure-halts-virgin-flights/11061>
> VB had contracted for service to be restored within 3 hours.
> I don't think them having clunky manual systems was unreasonable...


> It seems the operations are:
>  - too complex for 'mere admins' and
>  - the system designers aren't building in robustness

To be frank, I don't see how this differs from the majority of non-"cloud"
business offerings.  Over the years I have had plenty of end-user encounters
with systems where these same problems cropped up.

While cloud based systems offer significant problems, I don't know they move
the complexities anywhere that they wouldn't otherwise arrive: building a
distributed, or non-distributed, highly available system with high transaction
rates is always extremely difficult.

Engineering for robustness in the face of failure ... well, we all know how
many people have trouble writing software in the FOSS and closed spaces that
will handle simple failures like "out of disk space", or "can't malloc"
effectively — doing better on a larger, harder scale is unlikely.


> Their thesis is about IT/Business 'Alignment' being improved.  What's clear
> from the Virgin Blue debacle, is that the value of IT systems is much lower
> than the business costs of outages.

It always has been, although you often find "costs of outages" hidden in
metrics like "Total Cost of Ownership" or cost/risk analysis.

> Original ZDnet piece:
> <http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/the-chief-value-of-open-source/5106?>
> "Open source doesn’t even cut costs, because code licenses represent
> only a tiny portion of a major product’s cost."
> "The chief value of open source is visibility."

I certainly don't disagree with this, however.


✣ Daniel Pittman            ✉ daniel at rimspace.net            ☎ +61 401 155 707
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