Fin sector focus on disaster recovery required

Hitachi Vantara’s Adrian Johnson provides a practical use case in updating outdated strategy and systems to remove risks of downtime and data loss. 

For every company that kept functioning through the pandemic, the rapid move to remote work and increased digital services, there are many IT people who deserve pats on the back. 

But if you think “making it work” is the only important measure of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity (DR/BC) success and IT infrastructure capabilities, think again. 

Lots of companies eked through thanks to stop-gaps, workarounds and too many hours worked by people struggling behind the scenes to maintain outdated processes and solutions. 

Financial institutions (FIs) must modernise to ensure they can keep operating effectively, without loss of data, through the next unprecedented event, outage, cyberattack or data disruption.

A cloud agenda is not a quick DR fix 

A large FI in Australia planned to rely on Cloud provider service level agreements as a way to modernise their DR strategy. They realised they needed a different approach. Here’s why. 

Moving to the cloud takes longer than expected

Re-developing or adapting hundreds or thousands of applications for the cloud is time consuming. Each one must be incorporated into the disaster recovery strategy. For regulatory compliance purposes, FIs must test the updated DR every time. 

This institution, like many, was working with an outdated DR approach. For each test, they had to validate a full copy of critical infrastructure at a second site, establish a secure test environment, and run that copy of the organisation’s entire IT operations at the same time as business-as-usual operations.  

Each test took shifts of people working around the clock for 72 hours, consuming $200k in resources. If anything went wrong, they’d make adjustments and test again. 

This common method of DR testing was slowing down cloud migration.

Risks were mounting

This type of DR testing can cause a strain on IT infrastructure supporting the business, impacting productivity, compliance reporting or customer services. There is the potential for data leakage from the test environment through human error or the failure of security measures. This FI recognised the shortcomings of their solution and realised they needed to prevent any exposure to reputational damage, non-compliance and / or significant financial impacts.

There is a better way

Many hoped a move to the cloud would make modernising their own DR/BC strategies unnecessary. While that has not come to pass, thanks to technological advances in storage-based data services there is a better way, even for mid-size organisations that have requirements for always-on operations but don’t have large enterprise budgets. 

This FI opted for a high performance storage solution with global-active device (GAD) architecture with three locations. 

That means there are two production sites running at the same time – each with a current, active copy of all data – and a third site to manage and control the process. If a failure occurs at either production site, its data is transparently available at the other in real time, with no need for downtime. Either one can communicate data to the third, remote site to ensure zero data loss and rapid recovery. 

The new solution was implemented with zero downtime. 

• DR testing now takes less than two hours. 

• This organisation saved over $1 million AUD in the first two years, from reduction in DR testing complexity, software licenses as well as people-time and IT resources. 

• The DR testing process and the underlying solution support the migration of workloads to the cloud, rather than hindering it.

Removing the risks of downtime and permanent data loss have become business imperatives.

For information on high performance midrange or enterprise solutions with global-active device architecture, contact Hitachi Vantara.  

Adrian Johnson is a 20  plus year IT industry veteran, Adrian Johnson is Vice President and Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) at Hitachi Vantara. Adrian is tasked with driving co-creation opportunities and innovative data-driven strategies that aim to deliver business value and accelerate digital transformation for customers and partners.