Census Website Crash – Who’s To Blame?


With the catastrophe of the Census Website crash last Tuesday night, IBM has become the focus of the government’s frustration.

For those who don’t know, IBM is the tech giant that was hired by the government to provide the technology behind the 2016 online Census after it won the $9.6 million dollar contract at the end of last year.

From the moment the hashtag #CensusFail started to trend, it was evident the service provider’s job was failing.

Australian Bureau of Statistics officials initially said a “malicious” external DoS attack was responsible but the government later retreated the strong language calling it an attempt to “frustrate” the data collection.

With millions failing to login and submit their Census reports, Malcolm Turnbull went on 2GB radio Thursday morning to express his opinions on IBM and said the “completely predictable” attacks weren’t stopped because there was “clearly very big issues for IBM — the provider of the systems — and the ABS itself”.

Of course, none of this would have happened if OnePoint had been managing the IT infrastructure.

OnePoint routinely uses elastic server clusters, which means when demand increases, server resources automatically increase also. If in fact this was a denial of service attack, or simply millions of Australians doing exactly what the government told them to do, our service would have scaled up to meet the demand instantly.

In this day and age with so many cloud providers offering elastic servers, it is totally inexcusable for systems to go down under high load. Given that this was a government system handled by one of the biggest IT companies in the world, this situation is nothing more than greedy buffoonery.

The OnePoint Way

When reading the IBM Blame Game, an immediate red flag is raised over this quote: “IBM always give the customer exactly what they ask for, not what they want. They provide the resources and what the customer does with them is totally up to them.”

That is a completely irresponsible and dangerous attitude to have. Customers come to you because they need your skills and expertise.

Customers may have an idea of what they want, and they know everything about their own business, but they need IT experts to guide them in turning their idea into a fully functional IT system. If they could do that themselves, they wouldn’t need to outsource in the first place. We here at OnePoint are different. We will offer suggestions and guidance for your projects.

We do become involved in your project, and we genuinely get excited about it with you. We just hope the Cenus’ service providers incompetence hasn’t destroyed the IT industry’s reputation too much.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government will conduct a review of the events which will include whether the ABS performed adequately and whether contract­ors such as IBM had done enough to prepare for the likely pressure on the system.

It’s believed a particular focus of the review will centre on the failure of some of the hardware provided by IBM. While the technology of Elastic Load Balancing is readily available, the choice to use IBM’s infrastructure proved to be the wrong choice.


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