On Wednesday afternoon, some of Virginia's computer servers had an as of yet unexplained failure which knocked some of the 24 state agencies off-line. The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) said that how negatively an individual state agency was affected was due to where its information was stored on the state's servers.
The Department of Motor Vehicles apparently was the most visibly affected, with no in-person license renewals possible at its 74 locations across the state. However, one could still renew their license on-line or through its or use an automated telephone service, and vehicle registrations were still possible in-person.
VITA said that it had fixed the problem yesterday, but that many agencies were still affected at 1800 EDST news reports indicated. VITA officials couldn't say when everything would be back to normal. It's own website was still down as of 0930 EDST today but finally came back up shortly thereafter.
Virginias' IT infrastructure is in the midst of a major $2-billion plus upgrade which has been the source of trouble between the state and its contractor, Northrop Grumman. While the contract difficulties have been "resolved" after much contentious debate, this latest IT incident will likely bring up questions again about what value is the state getting for all of its IT dollars.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.