IT Science Case Study: Bank in Tornado Country Updates DR Function

First Enterprise Bank needed a technology refresh to protect financial information and meet disaster recovery needs in the case of a natural disaster, because tornadoes and earthquakes are common threats in its region.

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Here is the latest article in a new eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.

Today’s Topic: Bank in Tornado Country Refreshes DR Function

Name the problem to be solved:  First Enterprise Bank is an independent and locally-owned four-branch community bank in Oklahoma City, Okla. The company’s outdated, legacy network consisted of multiple servers dedicated to operating individual functions, and traditional, tape-based backup that was too slow and did not provide redundancy. They needed a technology refresh to protect financial information and meet disaster recovery needs in the case of a natural disaster, because tornadoes and earthquakes are common threats in this region.

Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution:  First Enterprise Bank needed an affordable, hyperconverged solution that could run all of the bank’s back-office applications, ensure high availability and simplify the existing, cumbersome disaster recovery (DR) plan.

List the key components in the solution: First Enterprise Bank implemented a dual-way stretch cluster across two sites that includes two Cisco UCS servers running StorMagic SvSAN at each location. Other key components of the environment: VMware vSphere 6.0 Essentials Plus hypervisor, VMware vMotion migration technology and Veeam software for data protection.

Describe how the deployment went, perhaps how long it took, and if it came off as planned:  SvSAN software was deployed easily and almost instantly on First Enterprise Bank’s Cisco servers. SvSAN supports any x86 server and industry standard hypervisors such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V; it provides the shared storage necessary to enable advanced hypervisor features.

Describe the result, new efficiencies gained, and what was learned from the project:

  • Lower cost: VMware vSAN was 87 percent more expensive to implement and required 1Gb network links between sites versus 300Mb for StorMagic.
  • Less equipment required: First Enterprise Bank was able to preserve and repurpose four existing servers when it implemented StorMagic SvSAN, which made the technology refresh simpler and less disruptive. The VMware solution would have required six new ones.
  • Disaster recovery: The bank now has a simple DR plan with automated failover instead of a five-page manual detailing the steps that people need to take if there was ever an outage. Their DR goals are met and they meet federal requirements easily with SvSAN.
  • High availability: If a site ever goes down, all of the affected virtual machines will automatically be restarted at the surviving site with the help of VMware vMotion, with no downtime or human intervention required.

Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings, and staff time savings, if any: “The StorMagic solution was 87 percent less expensive than VMware’s; we spent less on the software and we were able to repurpose four existing servers instead of buying six new ones that vSAN required,” said Chris Hood, IT Director of First Enterprise Bank.

If you have a suggestion for an IT Science feature, email cpreimesberger@eweek.com.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he...