Hosted business continuity

November 2013 Security Services & Risk Management, IT infrastructure

ContinuitySA has successfully implemented a complete business continuity solution using server replication for a global resources company. The client has integrated mining, processing, energy, logistical and marketing operations across Asia, Latin America and Africa. The solution uses virtualisation and replication to provide a scalable hosted disaster recovery solution.

As a global multinational, the resources company needs to ensure that all its business operations are sustainable. Following global governance guidelines, its directors wanted to ensure that its South African operations had a robust business continuity/disaster recovery solution in place, in line with global best practice.

Having previously worked with ContinuitySA, the company’s CIO knew it had the experience, skills and facilities to help his team design and implement the most appropriate solution.

The solution had to accommodate both the company’s head office and its hosting facilities. An added complication was that part of its IT had been outsourced and it was bringing these systems back in-house to a new data centre. A constraint was that there were few options when it came to high-speed connectivity between ContinuitySA’s disaster recovery facilities in Midrand and its new site.

Working closely with the client team, ContinuitySA scoped the challenge and proposed a full server replication solution. This would provide the client with a constantly updated mirror image of its entire server environment plus, if necessary, workplace recovery at ContinuitySA’s Midrand facilities in the event of any of the normal facilities being unavailable.

Because of the high volumes of data involved in the initial replication, the cost of the connectivity between the sites, and the fact that replication software needed to be installed on the existing hardware, ContinuitySA transported physical hardware to the hosting site. Over the course of an entire weekend, the ContinuitySA team installed the necessary software on the servers and ran the initial replication.

Once the replication process was completed, the replication hardware was transported back to the ContinuitySA site in Midrand and the server data transferred onto the replication platform. As part of the solution, ContinuitySA provisioned a mixed disk system of high-speed storage for environments with high processing requirements, and standard speed disk for those with lower processing requirements.

ContinuitySA also set up a temporary four-megabytes-per-second link between the data centre and its disaster recovery site for the regular daily incremental replications. This link had the capacity to burst to 20 megabytes per second at need. A second, permanent link was to be set up with the new data centre on the East Rand, but later this temporary link became the permanent link.

“Testing was critical to ensure that the replication was completed, and that the incremental replication over the wide-area network link was fully functional,” says ContinuitySA’s Gerrit van Taak. “With a third party involved, it was important that everybody understood their roles and responsibilities.”

Designing and implementing the solution took some four months. During the transition period, ContinuitySA provided the resources company with a temporary recovery solution using shared servers in the Midrand disaster recovery centre and conventional backup tapes.

Subsequent to the successful go-live of the solution, ContinuitySA continues to monitor and manage the ongoing replication capability, effectively offering it as a managed service to the client.

“Because the solution is highly automated and is managed by ContinuitySA, it provides the resources company with a reliable and very comprehensive Plan B – a full mirror image of its server environment that can be converted into a production environment quickly in the event of a disaster,” says Van Taak. “Because it’s a virtual environment, it is highly scalable as well as being extremely cost-effective. And because it’s located at ContinuitySA’s facilities, it has the added advantage of state-of-the-art security (physical and virtual) and robust governance.”

“Having a bulletproof business continuity solution is important to us. The managed replication solution provided by ContinuitySA gives us confidence that no matter the eventuality, our systems will always be up,” concludes the resources company’s CIO.

For more information contact ContinuitySA, +27 (0)11 554 8050, cindy.bodenstein@continuitysa.co.za, www.continuitysa.co.za



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