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MidAmerica Bank

Illinois-based MidAmerica Bank has become a poster child for business continuity, thanks to a multivendor effort that replicated the company's data center to ensure faster recovery.

In the recently completed project, MidAmerica replaced its "cold site" disaster recovery plan with an in-house "business continuity site" that features data replication and mirroring across the same kind of tiered storage devices it has in its data center. The data center is linked to the remote site over a 1-Gbit/s IP service from the local exchange carrier SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC).

MidAmerica's project is interesting on a couple of counts. First, it shows how dramatically a company can improve its disaster recovery by implementing disk-based replication techniques, as opposed to relying on tape backup and off-site recovery.

According to Paul Stonchus, first VP and data center manager at the bank, the recovery time with tape vaulting was a matter of days, for a single application. Now it's down to less than an hour for 25 applications -- clearly a must in this 21st century of terrorist attacks and grid power outages. MidAmerica, the $9 billion subsidiary of MAF Bancorp Inc., also had its own growth to consider, since it's burgeoned from 16 remote branch offices to more than 60 over the last eight years.

MidAmerica enlisted its storage vendor, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), for design help. The vendor recommended that the bank pick a site "within driving distance" of its headquarters data center in order to set up the business continuity site.

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