Companies Do More with Disaster Recovery Technology

Case study: CDS, Bank of America and Montefiore Medical use disaster recovery technology to advance other business processes.

Numerous solutions are available to take care of the disaster recovery and business continuity needs of enterprises; the key is to find a solution that can protect data while advancing other business processes.

The implementation of a new disaster recovery solution allowed Donna Fawcett, director of technical services for Canadian Depository for Securities Ltd., to consolidate mainframe and open-systems storage management while keeping bandwidth usage under control.

CDS holds more than $2.3 trillion on deposit and processes more than 62 million securities trades annually. CDS guarantees its clients that data will be restored in 2 hours in the event of a disaster, an ability the organization must demonstrate at least twice a year to maintain its SLAs (service-level agreements).

CDS recently upgraded its storage arrays to Storage Technology Corp.s V2X2 Shared Virtual Array disk systems, protected by StorageTeks PPRC (Peer to Peer Remote Copy) data protection software. The StorageTek system has built-in compression capabilities that reduce the amount of data that has to travel among CDS sites by a factor of 4-1, said Fawcett.

Before the upgrade, CDS could restore data within 10 minutes of the 2-hour limit. The StorageTek solution has allowed Fawcett and her staff to meet the 2-hour recovery goal with plenty of time to spare: CDS can now complete a recovery operation in less than an hour, according to Fawcett, which gives IT staff an additional hour to rerun the process in the event there is a hiccup during the recovery exercise.

This alone might have been worth the price of admission—about $695,000 to start, according to StorageTek officials—but the StorageTek systems compression features provide significant cost savings for CDS in many areas. "The compression capabilities within the StorageTek frame enabled us to defer about $900,000 in communications infrastructure upgrades and maintenance expenses," said Fawcett in Toronto. "An added benefit was the simplified administration through the storage portal, enabling management of mainframe and open- systems environments from a single pane of control."

Indeed, with proper planning and some ingenuity, IT managers can leverage disaster recovery projects to help their organizations gain a technological edge.

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GoldenGate Software Inc.s Transactional Data Management platform allows Bank of America, for example, to replicate data in real time from processing centers across the country to a failover site in Kansas City, Mo.

Michele Schwappach, vice president of ATM/debit applications at Bank of America, and her staff decided to go with the GoldenGate system because it provided the cross-platform replication support they needed to support the three database platforms in Bank of Americas ATM/debit network. (Schwappach declined to specify the database platforms.)

Bank of America previously used in-house replication software to keep its data centers in sync, but that solution became burdensome to maintain and upgrade. In contrast, GoldenGates technology has proved to be exceptionally scalable, with transactions per second increasing from 300 during the initial implementation in 2000 to more than 700 today, according to Schwappach.

In the event of a site failure, the other sites in the network or the primary failover site in Kansas City can assume the load of the fallen site with minimal downtime. But Schwappach, based in Albuquerque, N.M., said the technology has created benefits beyond disaster recovery. "We use GoldenGate for a lot of things," she said. "It helps the fraud-detection department, and it is used in our data warehouse."

GoldenGates database synchronization technology allows Bank of Americas fraud department to follow transactions in real time, with data sent from the ATM/debit network. During fraud cases, the fraud department can mine this data to determine usage patterns. Bank of America also uses the GoldenGate technology to aggregate data in its data warehouse; the data can then be easily analyzed to aid in decision making.

Jack Wolf, CIO for Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York, is another GoldenGate customer who uses the technology for business processes beyond disaster recovery. (Wolf is also CEO of Emerging Health Information Technology LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Montefiore that outsources IT services to other hospitals.)

As with Bank of America, Montefiore Medical Center is using GoldenGates technology to move data among applications in real time—for failover purposes but also to provide doctors and administrators with a means to analyze real-time data when making what are sometimes life-and-death decisions.

The GoldenGate software extracts data from Montefiores CIS (clinical information system), which resides on Hewlett-Packard Co. NonStop S74000 servers, and feeds the data to other servers for reporting.

The CIS houses critical patient data that is stored on HP/Tandem systems. The GoldenGate software takes that data and sends it to a Sybase Inc. data warehouse. From there, report-writing servers running Emerging Healths Clinical Looking Glass software analyze patient data and compare it with past cases to help doctors make decisions about patient care and allow administrators to monitor the success rate of medical treatments.

Montefiore Medical Centers disaster recovery solution is set up to allow failover from the hot site at the computer center at its Bronx campus to a data center in Yonkers, N.Y. The failover process currently takes a couple of hours, said Wolf, but when upgrades to the disaster recovery infrastructure are completed later this year, real-time recovery will be possible.

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