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EMC’s ‘one in a billion’ glitch cripples government agencies

“The journey to the cloud begins here,” says the sign on the giant EMC booth at VMworld. But Virgina residents these days see EMC as more of an inhibitor of travel than an enabler of journeys.

The Virginia Information Technologies Agency fingered EMC as the culprit in a glitch that brought down systems across state agencies. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles was one of those agencies, causing the state to stop issuing driver licenses since last Thursday.

VITA has been updating its website with news on the problem, placing blame on its EMC DMX-3, which is part of EMC’s enterprise Symmetrix storage platform. EMC seemed shocked by the failure, at least according to the way VITA put it on its site:

”According to the manufacturer of the storage system, the events that led to the outage appear to be unprecedented. The manufacturer reports that the system and its underlying technology have an exemplary history of reliability, industry-leading data availability of more than 99.999% and no similar failure in one billion hours of run time.”

VITA said today that the faulty DMX-3 has been fixed and the agency is testing it, but driver licenses are not yet being processed. The failure impacted 26 of 89 state agencies, including core business functions of three agencies. The outage affected 13% of the state’s file servers, according to VITA.

This isn’t EMC’s first high-profile failure this year. Exchange hosting provider Intermedia blamed EMC for a hardware failure that interrupted service in April. Intermedia did not say which EMC storage system failed, or if that system also has a history of going a billion hours without run time.

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