Computing became more or less ubiquitous in the mid-1990s, and since then there have been numerous reports in the IT media, and sometimes the mainstream media, about problems caused by a “computer glitch”.

That’s all they ever say, and everybody seems to accept it.

I always wonder how many were real technical problems. It seems that a multitude of sins can be explained by computer “glitches” because everybody knows PCs crash all the time. And nobody would understand the explanation if one were given. So they don’t seek further and better particulars.

I always want to hear about the inner workings of these glitches because it would make me better at my job. But we never hear about them. There was a “glitch” and that’s all there is to it.

The ASX problem caused by a glitch the other day is fascinating.

The explanation I heard is that a backup system went down, so they decided to take down the live system as well. Apparently they were more frightened of transactions being lost in case the live system went down than preventing the transactions in the first place.

Fair enough. I would probably have made the same decision. Preventing people from making transactions is much less horrible than telling people their transactions were deleted, even if it does cost God-knows-how-much.

The lack of reporting on this has been bizarre.

My questions are these:

  1. Did the IT contractor have to make any penalty payments under their service agreement for the outage?
  2. Was the plan to take down the live system in case of backup system failure pre-determined, or did they invent the idea on the morning that it happened?
  3. If the plan was pre-determined, why was there not a second backup system? What’s the point of a backup system if you’re going to take down BOTH systems in case of failure?
  4. What’s the plan to prevent it happening again?

ASX has a clear duty to make a full explanation. A lot of people, for example, everybody with a super fund, lost a lot of money that day.

It’s not good enough to say they had a “glitch”.