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Lack of infrastructure maintenance during ‘transition in’ period cause of CenITex outage

by Staff Writers •
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Former outsourcer Fujitsu had to be called in to help when several of the Victorian Department of Business and Innovation’s (DBI) key systems – including email – crashed recently and current infrastructure manager CenITex was unable to immediately identify and rectify the source of the problem. 

Fujitsu and DBI (which was formerly known as the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development or DIIRD) signed a $34.7 million outsourcing agreement in 2002 which expired in April 2011.

Fujitsu’s previous DBI responsibilities have been fully transitioned to the Victorian Government’s shared services agency, CenITex, according to the latter’s Annual Report.

According to sources, a great measure of the failures can be attributed to the protracted transition period and a tendency for agencies to under invest in hardware maintenance during such periods time.  This coupled with the fact that system documentation may not be adequate or readily found created an environment ripe for a major business system outage.    

Reports recently published in The Age claim that CenITex Chief Executive Michael Vanderheide was forced to apologise to staff at DBI following the crash which took place just over a week ago.

It is understood that the specific cause of the problem was storage hardware which was two years past its end of warranty period and that its failure caused a number of faults, including within the mail system.  Fujitsu, with its extensive understanding of the DBI infrastructure, was readily able to identify the cause of the failure.

CenITex is also currently transitioning the Department of Justice (DoJ) away from a 13 year, $61 million outsourcing agreement with Fujitsu that has been in place since May 1998. This contract too expired in April 2011.

CenITex paid Fujitsu $6.1 million for services associated with the transition-out of these two Departments.

The DBI was the first Victorian Government agency to agree to transition to CenITex following its establishment in July 2008, signing up to transition services on 1 March 2010.

In addition to DBI, the ‘G6’ group of agencies have also fully transitioned to CenITex:

  1. Department of Treasury and Finance
  2. Department of Premier and Cabinet
  3. Department of Sustainability and Environment
  4. Department of Planning and Community Development
  5. Department of Transport
  6. Department of Primary Industries

In mid-transition are the Department of Human Services and the Department of Justice.

The Department of Health has semi-transitioned, with some sub-agencies in Health to remain with Health Information Systems.

On hold, due predominantly to funding shortages, are the transitions for Victoria Police, VicRoads and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Memorandum of Understanding stage regarding transition to CenITex has been reached for the State Revenue Office and the Environmental Protection Agency, but no transition activity has occurred.

According to the Annual Report, CenITex completed a total of 514 projects in 2010-11 with a combined value of nearly $10 million.

One of these projects was the migration of servers from 530 Collins Street to data centres in Ballarat and Burwood, which was completed over a nine month period.

CenITex also completed the roll-out of LotusNotes 8.5 to more than 12,000 customers, within the Departments of Treasury and Finance, Planning and Community Development, Sustainability and Environment, Primary Industries, and Victorian Forests.

A budget deficit in excess of $20m for CenITex has been widely reported in the press is, however according to the agency this is “in line with the CenITex Business Plan budget”.

 “CenITex and the Victorian Government are investing heavily to build and operate new ICT infrastructure with the program due for completion in 2012/13. The deficit incurred during this build stage will be recovered with lower operating costs in future years as we begin to realize the benefits of these investments,” said the CenITex Annual Report for 2010-11.

Of CenITex’s annual budget for this year, $2.8 million went towards the transition of DBI to CenITex.


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