You can actually resume the business knowing that the data is accurate and it is functional the way it was prior to the event.“
- Richard Dolewski, CTO and VP of Business Continuity Services, WTS
A Service Apart
How does a managed services provider set itself apart? For WTS, which has data centers in Seattle, WA, and Denver, CO, the answer is providing its clients a special competency in disaster recovery and business continuity. “WTS does the recovery on behalf of their customers, therefore relieving the customers of this burden, especially at a time when their staff may not be available,” said Richard Dolewski, Chief Technology Officer and VP of Business Continuity Services. “WTS delivers a repeatable recovery result every time. We value the cost of any business outage and utilize High Availability software to further eliminate planned outages.”
WTS is a managed services provider that emphasizes application hosting for Oracle JD Edwards software, though it provides other services such as disaster recovery and colocation services for iSeries (also known as IBM i, System i or AS/400), Windows and Linux platforms.
Dolewski continued, “A well planned deployment of infrastructure technology with clearly defined availability and recovery objectives can help ensure hardware failures and more serious disasters do not bring a business to its knees. A truly highly available infrastructure can be a revenue engine for our customers by always keeping the systems available to support their business requirements.”
“So we are shifting from traditional HA – which is passive, it’s after a bad event – to business continuity, which means keeping systems always available for our clients. With the clients that we service, it is all about eliminating their planned and unplanned outages. Now they see a value. They’re actually saying, wow, my systems are available so much more.”
Tape Is Not Enough
Prior to employing solutions from WTS, many clients used only tape backup systems to protect their data. When a disaster or system failure occurred, it typically took 24 or 48 hours to find the tapes, load data and restart the system. The data on the restored system was already a day behind because the last backup ran the night before. Therefore a tape-only approach meant a day or two of downtime plus losing a day’s worth of transactions and file updates. For many businesses, such recovery times and recovery points are no longer acceptable.
In one example, a transportation company with four or five distribution centers suffered an outage and had to recover from tape. The information in the recovered system was a day out of date and no longer represented the inventory status in their distribution network. So they did not know if a product had been shipped or billed and were forced to do an inventory recount. It was enough for them to realize tape is not enough.
A View to a Recovery
WTS uses proven, off-the-shelf replication technologies and a good high availability monitoring system to deliver recovery times of an hour or less and a recovery point of the last successful transaction. In the event of a disaster the actual recovery is performed by WTS staff. “We provide application recovery, which is business continuity. We have unbelievable JD Edwards staff here as well as engineers on the different platforms, so the application will be functional. If you have a disaster, you are in a crisis. Turning over a system that is, shall we say, less than credible, you have a second disaster waiting for you. So you want this to be application ready. You can actually resume the business knowing that the data is accurate and it is functional the way it was prior to the event,” he said.
WTS employs replication technologies from Vision Solutions, which includes the recent acquisition of Double-Take Software. Before deploying a technology in its data centers, WTS goes through a detailed proof of concept to make sure it meets all technical criteria. It selected iTERA and Mimix for iSeries platforms and Double-Take for Windows and Linux platforms. It considers them best-of-breed host-based solutions for replicating data in real time to a remote site, whether between WTS data centers or from client sites to WTS if they just need a recovery site. They support multiple operating systems in physical and virtual server environments.
Looking forward, WTS will continue to evolve its disaster recovery services. As a managed services provider, it views these stringent, application-level DR capabilities as a differentiator. “It is all about being prepared. Our job is to be prepared for the client,” said Dolewski.
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