Credit Union Project Pays Off

Silver State gets system boost from STS and Mendocino's RealTime D2D backup and recovery solution.

June 25, 2004

5 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Financial institutions have an obligation to provide timely, accurate, reliable service to their customers. To do so in today's world requires a computer system with the latest state-of-the-art advancements and a relationship with the vendors that can provide them. So, when Las Vegas-based Silver State Schools Credit Union felt the time had come to upgrade its system, it turned to Orange County, Calif.-based Strategic Technology Solutions (STS), a leading provider of turnkey IT systems to credit unions across the country, to give its backup and recovery functions a much-needed boost.

With 58,000-plus members and 15 locations throughout Southern Nevada, Silver State knew it had to live up to the reputation it had developed from the time it opened its doors in 1951. Indeed, its mission statement is "Excellent Member Service." The bank's enterprise network's 235 workstations handle such important data as member statements, delinquency reports, deposits, transfers, withdrawals, loan applications and a host of back-office accounting records each day, all of which must be available immediately, on demand.

"Credit unions provide service, and if they can retrieve member information rapidly, quickly process new transactions and respond to member requests promptly, there is a tremendous cost savings that can be passed on to members as increased dividends, reduced loan rates and better service," according to Rich Sato, president of STS.

Slow ProcessThe credit union had been backing up transactions to standard IBM tape, then driving them across town for safekeeping. This inefficient method caused a full restore to take many hours to complete, an unacceptably long time for a financial institution to be down.

"The key to our operational efficiency is immediate and continual access to data, and we worried about business continuance should a major data outage strike," says Dan Kinne, vice president of IT at Silver State.Something needed to be done, so STS was brought in to help with the project. "We had worked with STS on other business-continuity solutions and had always found their expertise in credit-union needs to be outstanding," Kinne says.

Headquartered in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., with additional offices in Santa Clara, Calif., STS is a solution provider of disaster-recovery, hosted and premises-communications solutions. It has partnered with companies such as Interactive Intelligence and Adapt Telephony Services since 1999 to provide state-of-the-art solutions for its more than 50 clients in the financial industry across the country.

"Improving service, improving operational efficiency and lowering costs are priorities for credit unions, and all of this is best accomplished with computing power and continuous, reliable access to the associated stored data," Sato notes.

STS suggested adding to Silver State's network a new centralized disk-to-disk (D2D) backup-and-recovery solution called RealTime from Fremont, Calif.-based Mendocino Software.

Mendocino's RealTime technology features a "time-slider" on a separate testbed machine for tasks that require full copies of application-production data, which significantly reduces cycle times, improves productivity and helps resolve critical service issues quickly.A credit union's data must not only be backed up and protected, but its recovery must be quick and uncomplicated. RealTime technology brings a whole, new dimension to backup and recovery with its ability to restore accurately and verifiably any size database or application data files within minutes.

When an error or failure occurs in a production server, RealTime provides recovery to any point in time with reduced exposure to data loss. Restores can be trial-tested in a testbed-recovery server before being applied in production, according to the company. In a simulated recovery test, the credit union had the primary host operational again within approximately 20 minutes.

This almost-instant recovery application, which is a continuous, nonintrusive hot-backup process that produces a constant, running record of application activity in real-time, is compatible with the IBM AIX system Silver State had in place. Recovery is not dependent on a point-in-time snapshot, but uses a constantly rolling "movie" of data that leaves no gaps in saved information. The data is tagged, allowing users to roll back or "undo" to a point in time before corruption occurred, thus eliminating the need to rebuild the data structure.

At a cost of roughly $65,000, which includes the software, hardware and services, according to Sato, "The solution we provided allows easy and quick recovery of stored information with just a few mouse clicks, and it can be done by anyone since it doesn't require any knowledge of databases or technical know-how."

The D2D backup-and-recovery application resides at the credit union's IBM H-80 RISC server's main processor in its Las Vegas headquarters, and in an IBM P-640 Unix backup server in a branch office located 20 miles away. Approximately 9 GB of data is being protected over a wireless microwave link that runs on its own dedicated network between the two computer sites. The network is capable of 2.5 Mbps to 2.8 Mbps throughput of encrypted data. The centralized backup replaces the tape-backup method previously used."The system has lived up to expectations and has proved itself to be fast and reliable, further helping us to improve member service," Kinne says. While snapshot technology involves time-consuming recovery of lost data between snapshots, RealTime focuses on data recovery and continuance rather than backup. Unlike snapshot-and-replication processes, this recovery technique does not require that applications be suspended if they are not accessing the affected data during the recovery process.

STS' D2D backup-and-recovery solution saves time and trouble, and allows Silver State to protect its excellent reputation for service to its members.

Ron Levine ([email protected]) is a freelance writer based in Carpinteria, Calif.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox
More Insights