UPDATE: This story has been updated with a further interview with Ray White on 13 January. Ray White has clarified that it was actually an inability for its Active Directory installation to communicate with the rest of the world which has taken down its email systems this week during the Queensland floods — courtesy of an AAPT outage at its facility in the Riverside building in Brisbane.
Real estate giant Ray White has this week received a graphic demonstration of the benefits of switching to cloud-hosted email, with the Microsoft Exchange portion of its staff email systems appearing to have been taken out by Queensland’s floods; and the Google Apps portion it’s migrating to remaining up.
In late November Google unveiled the company as one of two flagship Australian customers who had taken the decision to switch off their Outlook/Exchange platforms and migrate to Google Apps.
At the time, Ray White director of IT & property management Ben White said the company switched because it wanted an IT infrastructure which was more in sync with its nature — being composed of many smaller real estate agencies, all run by entrepreneurs who wanted more flexible systems than Exchange could offer them.
However, this week the company might have found another benefit from the move — business continuity. “Ray White email is down due to flood. May be restored today, but further disruptions are likely with water peak [tomorrow]. Pls pass on, wrote the company’s head of marketing Ian Campbell today on Twitter.
Campbell was unable to be contacted by telephone, and a spokesperson for Ray White wasn’t available. However, Delimiter believes that in fact it wasn’t Ray White’s entire email platform which went down — just the portion still hosted on Microsoft Exchange, which, along with most of the company’s back-end infrastructure, is associated with its Brisbane head office, and is currently unavailable.
The company is understood to still be migrating some staff onto the Google Apps platform — which would not have been affected by the Queensland floods, as it is not hosted in Australia and is available globally to anyone with an internet connection.
The news comes as other datacentre facilities have also been experiencing problems in Queensland. Credit Union Australia has been forced to shut down its internet banking services due to the flood, as it operates out of head offices in the flooded Brisbane central business district. “CUA’s Brisbane Headquarters is located in the flood zone in the Brisbane CBD and this has caused the shut down of our internet and web banking services,” it said in a statement on its site this afternoon.
AAPT too, warned customers this afternoon that a number of its Brisbane-based co-location hosting facilities were in danger of being affected by the flood. The telco has commenced exiting equipment from those sites — and has powered down one facility completely after Energex cut power in the area.