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In a rare incident of technological misfortune, Google Cloud inadvertently deleted the account of a $125 billion pension fund, causing significant disruption for over half a million members of UniSuper, an Australian superannuation fund. The mishap led to a week-long ordeal during which UniSuper members were unable to access their superannuation accounts.

UniSuper, catering primarily to employees in the higher education and research sectors across Australia, found itself at the center of this unprecedented disruption. The incident, described as a “one-of-a-kind misconfiguration” on Google Cloud, prompted a joint apology from UniSuper CEO Peter Chun and Google Cloud global CEO Thomas Kurian.

Assuring members that the outage was not a result of a cyber-attack and emphasizing that no personal data was compromised, Chun and Kurian acknowledged the frustration and disappointment caused by the glitch. They attributed the disruption to an inadvertent misconfiguration during the provisioning of UniSuper’s Private Cloud services, leading to the deletion of the pension fund’s subscription.

Characterizing the event as an “isolated occurrence” unprecedented in Google Cloud’s client history, the CEOs expressed regret over the incident, stating firmly that such mishaps should not occur. They pledged to address the root causes of the disruption and implement measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Services gradually resumed over the course of more than a week, with UniSuper assuring members that investment account balances would be updated expediently. Despite the initial setbacks, the fund remained committed to restoring normalcy as swiftly as possible.

UniSuper’s transition to the Google Cloud Platform in 2023, involving the migration of a significant portion of its operations, marked a strategic shift in its technological infrastructure. The move, which encompassed the transfer of non-production tasks and virtual machines, aimed to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. Prior to this transition, UniSuper’s operations were distributed across Azure and its own data centers.

As UniSuper and Google Cloud work together to rectify the fallout from this rare incident, both entities reaffirm their commitment to safeguarding the interests of UniSuper members and ensuring the integrity of their pension fund accounts.

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