Many critical services in the state of Virginia were crippled Thursday by computer failures in a state data center in Chesterfield, state officials said. More than 220 servers were offline, leaving at least 24 state agencies without full IT support, according to local media.
The outages disrupted the state's ability to process child support payments and aid to needy families, or accept new claims for unemployment benefits or applications for driver's licenses, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"We're disappointed to have a failure, an outage of this magnitude," Samuel Nixon Jr., head of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, told the paper. "No matter what you do, it's going to happen on occasion."
While stuff happens in data centers, this week's outage is bound to prompt fresh scrutiny of the state's approach to its IT infrastructure. Virginia made news last fall when state agencies reported rolling outages after the state apparently neglected to include network redundancy as a requirement in a 10-year, multi-billion dollar outsourcing deal won by Northrop Grumman. The contract was restructured earlier this year.
This week's failure appears to be linked to a hardware failure in a storage area network. Nixon said 228 of 3,600 servers were affected when technicians for a storage vendor were checking for faulty equipment. Nixon said he believes state computer data "are largely intact."
The affected sites included the Virginia Information Technologies Agency itself. "The VITA website is temporarily experiencing technical difficulties," a message read on Friday morning. "Restoration activities are ongoing. More information will be shared as it becomes available."