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There's more information available now.[1] Apparently part of their system switched to backups, but not all of it. A Delta rep says "We are actually fully operational, it's just that we're not able to use that newer interface." Unclear what that means.

In an airline system, there's quite a bit of equipment at each location, and much of it is specialized. There are interfaces to baggage systems and bar code readers. There are interfaces to airport systems and incoming information from air traffic control. The aircraft themselves transmit information and need flight plan uploads. There's probably more machine to machine communication than user interfaces. They may be having troubles resynchronizing everything with the backup systems in the data center.

[1] http://www.dallasnews.com/business/airline-industry/20160809...

I've spent just enough time around systems driven by old IBM mainframes to realize that they're pretty darned good at data integrity and at uptime, but they make up for it by being an IT nightmare in most other respects.

In this case, it sounds very much like the backup servers were running the wrong version of some user interface programmed in an arcane IBM programming language from the 1970s that is built entirely around the record-oriented database typical of a machine like the AS/400.


"not able to use newer interface" likely means that the majority of the data is still in the mainframe but wrapped by a more "modern" interface. Or in IBM parlance, system of record vs. system of engagement.

More specifically "lipstick on a pig" =D

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