Grounded By Dead Data Center, Airline CEO Flogs IBM

IBM is one of the largest technology suppliers in retail, especially in E-Commerce. But if certain Air New Zealand execs get their way, the percentage of Big Blue's total revenue that comes from retail will go up—in a bad way.

Operations at Air New Zealand came to a halt for about four hours Sunday, October 11 when an IBM data center suffered a power failure and a back-up generator failed to kick-in because of a faulty oil-pressure sensor. But the intriguing part was the response by airline CEO Rob Fyfe, who in an E-mail to IBM seemed to show that he suffers from a pressure control glitch of his own.

"In my 30-year working career, I am struggling to recall a time where I have seen a supplier so slow to react to a catastrophic system failure such as this and so unwilling to accept responsibility and apologize to its client and its client's customers," the E-mail said. "We were left high and dry and this is simply unacceptable. My expectations of IBM were far higher than the amateur results that were delivered yesterday, and I have been left with no option but to ask the IT team to review the full range of options available to us to ensure we have an IT supplier whom we have confidence in and one who understands and is fully committed to our business and the needs of our customers."

The reality behind the situation is unclear, in the sense of whether the airline truly wants to jettison IBM (send them into the Big Blue Yonder?) or to merely take a tough stance to strengthen its negotiating arm. Either way it seems clear that Air New Zealand is mighty upset. That phrasing, though, was more “in your face” than we usually hear. To paraphrase a great line from the movie Animal House, "They don't get to say that about a retail tech vendor. Only we can say that about a retail tech vendor!"