Terremark Data Center Outage Knocks HealthCare.gov Offline

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Key parts of the Healthcare.gov web site remain offline Monday. The Obama administration has blamed the issues on problems at a Verizon Terremark data center.

A service outage at a Verizon Terremark data center caused downtime Sunday for HealthCare.gov, the trouble-plagued online insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Health and Human services said Sunday that the Healthcare.gov “application and enrollment system is down because the company that hosts site has an outage. Terremark working to fix.”

“We are working with Terremark to get their timeline for addressing the issue,” Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Joanne Peters told Reuters. “We understand that this issue is affecting other customers in addition to HealthCare.gov, and Terremark is working (to) resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

UPDATE: At 1:40 pm Eastern time Monday, HHS spokesperson Joanne Peters tweeted that “Verizon Terremark has resolved their networking issue and the hub and http://HealthCare.gov application and enrollment tools are back online.”

But a subsequent blog post by HHS, with the surreal title “Continued Improvements to HealthCare.gov” left significant confusion about whether the issues had been fully addressed.

“This weekend, Terremark, the company that operates the data center that hosts the HealthCare.gov website and the Data Services Hub, experienced a failure in a networking component that brought down network connectivity to the site, and other web sites as well, the HHS wrote. “We are pleased to say that Terremark resolved their outage issues last night, and as of 7:00 AM this morning, the Data Services Hub is functioning smoothly.”

But then the next sentence states that the system is not fully recovered: “We continue to test one piece of the system impacted by the outage and are working as quickly as possible to allow consumers to again access the online application and enrollment tools on HealthCare.gov.”

It turns out that the system now works for returning users who have already registered, but new users still cannot create accounts. “Users without an account may experience a wait time online while we continue to test this particular part of the system,” HHS said in a statement. “We believe we will be able to resolve it by the end of the day to prevent any online wait times.”

It wasn’t immediately clear which Terremark data center had experienced the outage. The downtime is the latest difficulty for the HealthCare.gov site, which has been plagued by problems, with many users unable to access the site, and others stymied by enrollment problems.

Terremark Federal Group, a unit of Verizon, has received $15.5 million for cloud computing services provided to the HealthCare.gov website, according to media reports. Terremark began work on the five-year contract in 2011.

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2 Comments

  1. Keep in mind that this appears to be a network outage not a data center outage. The world never seems to have a problem with an AWS outage, lets wait and see what this one is about.

  2. Anonymous Data Center Guy

    A network outage in a data center may as well be a data center outage.