Discussion in Dbs ATM Outage: What Causes the Outrage?

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On 03 July 2010, IBM received an alert notification on an instable communication between DBS’s storage system and mainframe. Upon approval granted by DBS, IBM despatched its field engineer to DBS data centre at 11. 06am (DBS, 2010). Two more alert notifications were generated on 05 July 2010 at 2. 50am (40 hours after the first alert notification). Taking into account that the errors will threaten the data integrity and banking services, DBS should have keep track or requested their vendor, IBM, for the root cause analysis of the issue.

But DBS Group chief executive, Piyush Gupta, appeared to lay the blame for the outage on their vendor, IBM. He said that IBM service crew relied on outdated procedures to replace a defective storage component within the disk storage sub-system connected to our mainframe (Winston, 2010). Due to this oversight, a routine replacement eventually grew to become a complete system outage. How DBS could have reacted? DBS has admitted that their internal escalation process could have been more immediate as the error was allowed to occur 3 times within 40 hours.

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They should also questioned IBM for a more detailed overview for the replacement a defective storage component before approving the change. This showed a massive oversight on DBS and their dependency on IBM. In terms of communication, DBS and IBM technicians were despatched on 05 July at 3. 40am to restore the services but DBS only starts to inform their staff about the issue at 6. 30am, which by then complaints had already been received (Chee, 2010). DBS has failed to respond in a proactive manner in their information disseminating and missed the opportunity of establishing its trust with their customer.

Key Points for DBS Gartner (Winston, 2010) recommends DBS to identify key level of services in their outsourcing contracts which have impact on the business performance of the bank. And against the small number of service levels, a monthly rebate of fees for the affected service area should the vendor fail to perform their expected service level. The vice president of Springboard Research, Phil Hassey, proposes DBS imposing penalties varying from a literal warning to contract termination, depending on the impact of the SLA (service level agreement) breach or violation.

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has censured DBS for the online and branch banking systems service outage and requested DBS to diversify and reduce its material outsourcing risk which would mean DBS should not rely too heavily on one single service provider (Fineextra 2010). Key Points for IBM According to the news released from DBS official website (DBS, 2010), support team from IBM has done the wrong procedure for four times. Although there is no detail explanation found for the failure of applying correct operation, IBM has released a statement on 13th July 2010 to admit the mistake and their subsequent actions (IBM, 2010).

As preventive measures, IBM will enhance the training to their personnel for the procedures. Apart from this, experts from the global team will be involved for further assistance. Last but not least, more actions will be taken to enforce DBS’ infrastructure which affecting the outage (IBM, 2010). From the actions taken, IBM might learn its potential incompetency in collaboration with DBS in the following areas: Experience/Knowledge/Training of field personnel – It is questionable that why the engineer has applied the same incorrect procedure for 3 times and without questioning the procedure received from support centre.

This could potential be caused by the knowledge lost of suppliers(IBM) as over periods of time, the personnel who maintain/support the system are not consistent due to human resource movement. The knowledge transfer procedure could also be revised to ensure the knowledge for the field engineer is retained and able to provide effective support to the customer. Availability of documentation/Standard Operation Procedures(SOP) of IBM Support Team to a specific customer– According to the report from DBS (DBS, 2010), instead of using the machine’s maintenance interface, the IBM field engineer used the nstructions given by the support centre trying to solve the issue occurred.

This could show that the documentation to a customer may not be transferred properly to the support team. Since every system could have its customized features, the operation procedure is important to be documented properly, always up to date to changes and always available to the support team. Efficiency of remote support centre – From the event log (DBS, 2010), it is known that IBM’s Asia Pacific support centre is located outside of Singapore. It is questionable that the communication between the local support and remote support centre is synchronized.

As the field engineer received instruction from this support centre, the support centre has to provide accurate and proper information to the local engineer for diagnosis and troubleshooting. Conclusion DBS failed to respond in a more proactive manner in disseminating the issue. They have showed a massive oversight and their dependency on their vendors. These have made them missed the opportunity of establishing trust with its customers. DBS can diversify and reduce its outsourcing risk by not relying heavily on one single service provider.

They should also imposing penalties and rebate of fees for the affected service area should the vendor fail to perform their expected service level.


  1. Winston (2010). DBS blames IBM, braces for backlash from MAS. The Business Times. Retrieved from http://www. asiahoreca. com/Singlenews. aspx? DirID=109&rec_code=619480
  2. Chee, K. (2010). DBS crisis management: What happened to personal touch?. asiaonebusiness. Retrieved from: http://www. asiaone. com/Business/News/My+Money/Story/A1Story20100806-230744. html
  3. DBS. (2010). DBS AND IBM DETAIL FINDINGS OF 5 JULY OUTAGE. DBS Newsroom. Retrieved from: http://www. dbs. com/newsroom/2010/press100804. aspx
  4. Finextra (2010). Singapore central bank slams DBS and IBM over systems outage. Retrieved from http://www. finextra. com/news/fullstory. aspx? newsitemid=21672
  5. Tseng, C. , Parris, K. (2010). Singapore Bank Down by IBM Error, the availability Digest. Retrieved from: http://www. availabilitydigest. com/public_articles/0508/singapore_bank_outage. pdf
  6. IBM(2010). IBM Statement on DBS Service Outage on 5 July 2010. Retrieve from http://www. ibm. com/news/ph/en/2010/07/13/g766074l95026h58. html

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Discussion in Dbs ATM Outage: What Causes the Outrage?. (2019, May 02). Retrieved from


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