The shipping portal INTTRA was taken offline Friday for about 16 and a half hours—from about 2 a.m. to 6:30 in the evening—because of a problem with a piece of computer equipment located in New Jersey that required the installation of a software patch.
“This is not normal, and certainly we make tremendous investments in order to ensure this doesn’t happen,” said Sandra Moran, vice president, industry and product marketing, for INTTRA.
The company has a redundant disaster recovery site outside of Chicago, but she explained that the company decided it would actually be less disruptive to customers to do a controlled service interruption of the hardware in New Jersey, perform maintenance and bring the portal back online, rather than to make customers switch over to the mirror site.
While online customers received a message that the system was down for maintenance, other users who access INTTRA using EDI or traffic management systems would have continued to work as normal and messages would have flowed back and forth between their systems and INTTRA on a delayed basis.
On Saturday, not only was the system restored, but it processed without any delays or backlog about 2.5 million inbound transactions and 1.5 million outbound container status messages.
The INTTRA portal handles about 21 percent of ocean cargo bookings and shipping instructions that are transacted globally.
“We do scheduled maintenance like any large company that you deal with,” explained Moran. “It's just, typically, we would do something like this during a planned scheduled maintenance period.”
She said the company delayed the installation of the patch "until a slower transaction time for us. There were not many transactions in process when we did this unscheduled maintenance. Even though it was unscheduled, it was controlled.”
She said the IBM hardware that needed to be fixed is state-of-the-art and that the software patch will help other companies avoid similar problems. - Chris Dupin