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8/27/2010
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Virginia Repairs SAN Failure That Caused Statewide Outage

IT administrators have fixed the storage area network that failed Wednesday, affecting online services and network operations of more than 20 state agencies.

Virginia's IT operations arm has repaired the cause of a statewide IT system failure that affected online services and network operations of more than 20 of its agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The outage happened when an EMC storage area network (SAN) and its redundancy failed on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA). When this occurred, 228 servers attached to the network -- which host shared applications and software used statewide -- could not access data.

By Friday afternoon, the SAN had been repaired and technicians were bringing servers back online. Agencies also began testing applications to see if they were working properly again, said VITA spokeswoman Marcella Williamson via email.

VITA was created in 2003 to maintain and modernize the state's IT operations. VITA's website also was not functioning properly Friday, with its homepage loading a message that said the site is "temporarily experiencing technical difficulties" and that "restoration activities are ongoing."

Northrop Grumman also has a sizeable stake in Virginia's IT department; in 2005, the IT services firmed signed a $2.3 billion contract with VITA to look after communications and computer services, a move that was deemed as risky and has been criticized by state officials.

About two dozen agencies in all were affected by the outage. VITA cited security reasons for not releasing the names of all of the agencies. However, some, like the DMV, made public the system failure.

According to the Virginia DMV website, the agency is still unable to process any driver's license transactions inside its 74 customer service centers due to a "statewide issue" with computer systems.

A published report also said agencies that provide retirement benefits and welfare checks also were affected by the outage.

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