Topeka It was back to the salt mines for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. All because of a hardware failure.
The agency announced Tuesday it had to retrieve 120,000 records, including birth and death certificates, from a storage place in a central Kansas salt mine to help restore data from a massive computer system failure.
KDHE Secretary Roderick Bremby has said that problems started with an Aug. 5 hardware failure, affecting 85 percent of KDHE’s servers and putting out of reach millions of records, from marriage certificates to immunization files.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time because many Kansas parents were trying to access records for their children to start school.
Bremby said the problems stemmed from failure of what is called the storage area network, which is described as a central component of KDHE’s network.
The storage area network, or SAN, was purchased from Xiotech Corp. KDHE revealed the name of the Eden Prairie, Minn., company after the Lawrence Journal-World filed a request for the information under the state’s Open Records law.
By Aug. 12, Xiotech and KDHE put in a new storage area network to replace one that KDHE says was 3 years old.
Efforts to recover the lost data have so far proven difficult, which has led the health department to turn back to stored paper records.
KDHE said birth and death certificates as well as other documents have been trucked to Topeka from a salt mine storage facility to help restore the state’s electronic database.
On its website, Xiotech describes itself as one of the largest privately held data storage companies in the world.
Brian Reagan, chief marketing officer with Xiotech, said the system failed because of a disk drive malfunction.
“The weak link in the chain was the disk drive,” Reagan said. “Things go wrong with technology.” He said it was a mechanical malfunction that sometimes happens.
Reagan said Xiotech was working to help correct the situation and he praised the employees at KDHE for their work.
But KDHE continues to struggle to restore the lost data and is notifying customers on its website of continued delays in getting records such as birth and marriage certificates.
Reagan said he understood there would be a news conference Thursday to announce that the problem had been fixed.
As far as liability, Reagan said that would be determined in the future. The main concern now is getting the system back together, he said.