Vietnam newspapers report 'considerable impact' from data center’s failure

By Quynh Anh   September 25, 2018 | 12:54 pm GMT+7
Vietnam newspapers report 'considerable impact' from data center’s failure
Phap Luat newspaper website cannot be accessed from a phone on Sunday. Photo by VnExpress

Some online newspapers in Vietnam said power disconnection at a data center on Sunday caused big losses in their readership.

Readers could not access several news sites in Vietnam, including the popular Thanh Nien, Tien Phong, Sai Gon Giai Phong, Voice of Vietnam, Zing, and Bao Moi, for hours on Sunday due to disconnected power supply at VinaData, a data center owned by tech company VNG.

The newspapers, which all use the ePi content management system hosted on the center, could not be accessed between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Mai Ngoc Phuoc, editor in chief at Phap Luat (Laws) newspaper, said the volume of pageviews at its website plo.vn fell 30 percent from the normal weekend level.

“The incident also left a considerable impact on the running of advertisements on our site. We are still collecting specific figures of the damage.”

Nguyen Ba, deputy editor in chief at Infonet.vn, the news website of Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communications, reported similar loss of pageviews on Sunday.

"There are several major events and stories that happened on Sunday that attracted readers but our site went offline for hours. Our reporters and editors had their hands tied during the period,” he said.

In an email sent to its clients earlier, VinaData said the disruption was due to a power cut at Quang Trung Software City (QTSC) in Ho Chi Minh City, where the data center is located.

But Phuoc of Phap Luat said VinaData had been "careless" and failed to have a back-up plan because QTSC had informed its clients about the power cut several days before.

He goes on to say that Phap Luat is looking at ways to avoid such incident in the future.

“We are considering switching to another data center that is more stable and prestigious.”

Speaking to the media Sunday afternoon, Nguyen Tan Hung, public relations chief of the Ho Chi Minh City Power Corporation, said QTSC had been informed five days earlier.

Hung claimed the blackout occurred due to an issue with VNG's backup power generator.

In addition to the news sites, VNG services such as music player application Zing MP3, messaging application Zalo, online television service Zing TV, payment gateway ZaloPay, and VNG's online games also became inaccessible.

After power supply resumed, the online newspapers and Zing's services came back on at around 4:30 p.m. But Zalo, ZaloPay and VNG's online games remained inaccessible as of 11 p.m. Sunday.

VNG's services are widely used in business and communication.

It its latest statement, VNG sent an apology to its customers and say “this is the most serious problem that has ever occurred to its data center” and the incident “has left a significant impact” on its clients and users.

The company refused to release figures of its damage and said it will work with clients to “review all the specific damage and have solutions to protect their rights and interests.”

Many Zalo users affected by the Sunday hiccup are expecting answers.

“I pay almost $1,000 each month to run advertisements on Zalo but the app did not work on Sunday,” said Duc Hoang, an online retailer.

“I haven’t heard anything from Zalo about what it’s going to do to compensate me,” he said.

Nguyen Hong Phuc, a security expert, said it is “unacceptable" when VinaData blamed the power cut for its failure.

Electricity, network and the cooling system are the three basic foundations of a data center and also the reasons why customers use the service instead of having their own servers, he said.

On its website, VinaData said its service meets Tier III Certification's standard with a full system of power source and cooling system.

But Uptime Institute, the American professional services organization that adopts the Tier standard and the associated certification of data center compliance with that standard, said there are only two data centers in Vietnam, which belong to telecom giants VNPT and FPT, that meet its Tier III criteria.

In other to acquire the Tier III standard, a data center should offer 99.982 percent of availability with less than 1.6 hours of interruption each year year.

The incident on Sunday is the second time this year that VNG has been hit by a systemic problem. In April, detailed personal information of over 163 million Zing ID account owners were leaked on an online forum.

 
 
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