Google Cloud outage blamed for UniSuper service disruption lasting a week

An unprecedented incident related to provisioning by Google Cloud, the cloud service provider (CSP), led to a week-long service interruption at UniSuper, an Australian pension fund provider.

The disruption affected UniSuper’s online access and mobile apps due to a rare combination of issues at Google Cloud, resulting in inadvertent misconfiguration during the provisioning of UniSuper’s Private Cloud, as per an email from Google disclosed in a UniSuper blog post.

UniSuper, catering to the financial planning and retirement needs in Australia, serves the education and research sectors, bearing the brunt of the outage.

A previously unknown software bug surfaced due to the issues, causing a service outage commencing about a week prior, with remedial measures slated to commence on Thursday.

Member account access will be reinstated by mid-afternoon Thursday, albeit with pending balance updates. However, investment and trading remained unaffected during the outage, with no impact on funds.

UniSuper’s CEO, Peter Chun, reassured clients via email about the safety of their accounts and uninterrupted investment activity during the outage, promising updated balances post-system restoration.

Google emphasized the isolated nature of the incident, ruling out a cyber-attack and ensuring member data remained secure.

The provisioning glitch led to the deletion of UniSuper’s Private Cloud subscription across two geographies, including one aimed at outage and loss protection.

Restoring UniSuper’s Private Cloud involved substantial efforts and collaboration between teams, with backups in place minimizing losses and aiding in the restoration process.

Google Cloud expressed apologies for the inconvenience, pledging ongoing efforts to remediate the situation and progressively restore services.

While cloud outages are not uncommon, the prolonged UniSuper outage could dent Google’s reputation as a CSP, potentially eroding customer trust, according to Pareekh Jain, CEO of EEIRTrend and Pareekh Consulting.

Such outages underscore the importance of a multi-cloud strategy for risk management, with UniSuper previously distributing workloads across Azure and its own data centers before migrating a significant portion to Google Cloud Platform last year.