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Australia Businesses Christmas Cheer IT

Australian Dept. Store Chain's Website Crashes and Can't Get Back Up 156

Posted by timothy
from the work-calmly-and-rationally-instead dept.
McGruber writes "Myer, Australia's largest department store chain, has closed its website 'until further notice' at the height of the post-Christmas (and Australian summer) sales season. The website crashed on Christmas Day and has been down ever since. This means Myer will see no benefit for those days from booming domestic online sales, which were tipped to hit $344 million across the retail sector on Boxing Day alone. Teams from IBM and Myer's information technology division were 'working furiously' to fix the problem."
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Australian Dept. Store Chain's Website Crashes and Can't Get Back Up

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  • by tlhIngan (30335) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Saturday December 28, 2013 @02:10AM (#45803403)

    Just so everyone gets the scale of the issue - Boxing Day sales are a Commonwealth tradition - started in the UK, but most countries do observe them (including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and others).

    It's really the Commonwealth equivalent of Black Friday - including the traditions of sales starting the day before the event (Thanksgiving for Black Friday, Christmas for Boxing Day). It's a huge spike of traffic for most sites - I know even as little as 5 years ago - sites going down around 9PM PST were common (given most sales started at midnight) - 8:59 and the site was fine, once the clock ticked over, the sites fell over.

    These days the sites do often slow down, but they stay up as many sites now employ mitigation techniques including queuing transactions to avoid overloading the SSL payment backends (they call it the checkout queue).

    Of course, that was years ago, there's almost no reason why in 2013 the site should go down, nevermind going down permanently. Of course, perhaps the biggest reason is they were hacked - the best time to hack is during heavy times where systems fall over in unpredictable ways that may expose information to get at the juicy data as well as hiding in plain sight. There's really no other reason why a site would be taken down - heavy traffic is easily anticipated (It's not like you don't know when Christmas is) and accommodated.

    I bet that's what really happened - they got hacked. Better to say "too much traffic!" and show incompetence that way than to show incompetence in handling customer information...

  • by stox (131684) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @02:39AM (#45803501) Homepage

    The quality of IBM has been dropping for some time, and their customers are beginning to notice. This is especially true for e-commerce applications.

  • A bit of context ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rip!ey (599235) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @03:05AM (#45803569)
    A little bit of context might help here.

    Myer's is a "Bricks and Mortar" store in Australia, with stores in every major city and shopping center. Like most "Bricks and Mortar" stores here, they resisted the growing online shopping phenomenon for far too long. They are the direct opposite to the likes of Amazon.

    You can add to this the massive increase in savings rates here over the last few years as a result of the world-wide debt crisis, where Australians in general tightened their belts and stopped spending. It got to the point where if something wasn't "on sale" it simply wouldn't sell at all. The stores that have done well regardless are the low margin high turn-over stores. This is not Myers.

    But while Australians might have tightened their belts, there is one time of the year where they will spend more freely. Christmas. This is the big reason that boxing day sales have become huge here. It's really just taking advantage of the herds spending mentality at that time of year. And this year, finally, the belts are starting to loosen more than they have been for a few years now.

    So you have this convergence of factors, where Australians are finally loosening their belts, at the time of year where they traditionally spend more freely, with a "Bricks and Mortar" store that is late to the party, and an internet sales portal that has never actually been properly stress tested.

    It could be a hack, but I kind of doubt it.
  • Re:Cost center only? (Score:5, Informative)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday December 28, 2013 @03:06AM (#45803573) Journal

    Most retails outlets have freezes on any production changes from after Thanksgiving until at least January

    As others have pointed out, Thanksgiving isn't really "a thing" in Australia, however, taking your premise that changes should not be made in the run-up to Christmas, Myer doesn't seem to have followed your suggestion. Myer changed their externally facing hosting technologies on November 27. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2013 @11:24AM (#45805357)

    Straw man.

    You're only noting what was entirely evident from the nature of the post? It's deliberately reflecting the absurd arguments presented about

    The hysterical reaction to the ACA relates to the fact that millions of people are losing their health insurance, and only some can afford to purchase the newly mandated services with the sky-high new costs.

    No, it doesn't. The hysterical reaction to the ACA is rooted in a lot of different things, and only uses "facts" as a matter of convenience, switching them as desired, and not even bothering to verify them, let alone examine them in detail.

    The fact that some of the people that are willing to try buying such coverage are having trouble using the federal exchange web site, or some of the truly broken state exchange sites doesn't change the main and most significant underlying complaint: the law itself is spectacularly flawed and results in deep financial distress for the same millions of people whether or not the web site was behaving in a useful way.

    Yeah, if only we put them on Medicaid, or otherwise had state-sponsored socialized medicine. Oh wait, both of those are fundamental underpinnings of why there's a hysterical opposition to the ACA from some parties. And of course, those people being unable to get insurance, or unwilling, lead to them being in deep financial distress anyway when they did have a major medical issue, or when they had to be treated despite not being able to pay, deep financial distress for the health care system.

    So...where do you want the burden to lie? Please tell us who you want to pay for it, and how.

    As someone who appears to trying to indirectly cheer on the ACA, please explain to me how the fact that my premiums have nearly tripled, my deductible has more than quadrupled, two of my local hospitals are now off limits, and that I've lost the services of my doctor is a good thing? Don't worry, I know the answer.

    You might, but the rest of us don't. See the paucity of details in your claims? I know somebody who went from 50 bucks a month, to 150 bucks, but is now getting more treatments and checkups available to them with no out of pocket costs. Net cost to them at the end of the year? Will be less for them. Similarly I know somebody claiming their doctor is no longer covered. Said doctor was looking to retire for years, and griping for most of the past decade.

    So we don't know the answer. Just the one you want to give.

    You measure the goodness by looking at the people to whom all of that new money that's being taken from me is being handed, and love that the IRS has just hired 20,000 new people to handle the policing and penalizing surrounding this new tax. Yay! I hope you're happy.

    There's a reason why this law has a requirement of how much of the premiums go to medical care, and why some people have already gotten rebates, but the IRS claim? No, they have no hired 20,000 new people to handle this aspect of the law. You just fell for a false claim here. John Huntsman, Michelle Bachmann, Sam Nunn, or whatever person you got that number from? It's inaccurate.

    Please take your bullshit elsewhere.

    In the meantime, my household just took a huge cut in our effective income and a huge reduction in our healthcare options. This is what people are complaining about.

    You wish. You just got done complaining about nonsensical numbers of IRS agents. I'm surprised you didn't mention the Death Panels.

    The White House couldn't be happier that the web site is a train wreck, because it obfuscates the nature of the real disaster. That will be a lot cle

"The chain which can be yanked is not the eternal chain." -- G. Fitch