Smoke inside a federal data centre this morning has shut down email, some government websites and even the maligned Phoenix payroll system.
The government’s central IT department, Shared Services Canada, says there was no fire in the Ottawa area data centre — even though there was smoke detected inside.
The centre was evacuated and went into an emergency shutdown that crippled workers across multiple departments, including Transport Canada, where inspectors and special agents were unable to send or receive emails on their BlackBerry devices.
Shared Services says some 50,000 public service workers couldn’t send email throughout the day because the BlackBerry email servers were down.
The Phoenix payroll system, already under scrutiny for problems that have affected pay for some 80,000 public workers, is back up and running, although Shared Services didn’t say how long it was offline.
The department says it is working to restore all systems as soon as possible and is working with other federal departments it serves to prioritize which systems and applications are brought online.
Shared Services said it doesn’t know what caused the incident at the data centre.
Workers are combing through the data centre to identify the source of the problem to ensure a similar outage doesn’t happen again, the IT agency said.