New Star Asset Management, a leading fund management organisation in the UK, has completed a staged rollout of SteelEye Technology´s high availability and disaster recovery solution, LifeKeeper for Exchange, across four sites: Knightsbridge, London; Docklands, London; Dublin, Ireland and Bermuda in order to ensure complete disaster recovery for its Microsoft Exchange messaging and collaboration environment. New Star has been working with high availability specialists Open Minds to protect its email system.
Charles Hornung, Director of IT at New Star Asset Management, explained: “We researched the market and selected what we considered to be the best of breed solution. I am pleased to state that LifeKeeper works. I made sure the team conducted my acid test for business continuity – pull out all the wires! With the help of LifeKeeper, our email system remains up and running and performs as expected, something which is sadly not always the case.”
The company undertakes yearly reviews of its email infrastructure and before the implementation of LifeKeeper had anticipated it would take two days to fully recover from a loss of its Exchange servers. The full impact of this delay was realised following a security breach of the New Star Asset Management data centre in 2004, when all systems went down, and the full restoration of email took 48 hours.
“What surprised us was that during the downtime we discovered that fund managers and employees relied heavily on many aspects of Exchange – diary and contacts were actually more important than email itself,” explained Hornung. “It was untenable to operate for 48 hours without full access to Exchange. In future, key applications such as email had to be available on demand to our 300 users.”
New Star started work with Open Minds, who recommended SteelEye´s LifeKeeper for Exchange. Initially email was set up to replicate between the in-house servers but, once the pilot was underway, New Star found they were better served by using SteelEye Data Replication to replicate between the production site in Knightsbridge, London and a SunGard disaster recovery (DR) site in Docklands, East London. Since then, it has also rolled out email replication to the DR site from its offices in Dublin and finally from Bermuda, which was completed in August 2006.
Originally there were some performance issues between the remote sites in Dublin and Bermuda due to the relatively low bandwidth available. However, working with the technical teams at the SteelEye Competence Centre, New Star made a few changes to the default settings within MS Exchange, which totally eliminated these issues.
SteelEye LifeKeeper and Data Replication has been put through its paces as part of New Star´s annual full DR simulation and a number of extra DR tests, aimed at different parts of the New Star infrastructure. Hornung concluded: “Disaster recovery testing is an excellent opportunity for us to prove the system works and test the robustness of the infrastructure. We are very pleased that LifeKeeper has not let us down, and in a disaster, we think it will enable us to continue to provide the access to the Exchange environment that the business requires.”
New Star is presently exploring LifeKeeper´s role as a template for protecting other critical business applications such as BizTalk, Oracle and SQL Server.