SteelEye and Open Minds strengthen the chain for Interlink

By | April 4, 2006

Interlink Ireland, Ireland’s leading courier company, has selected SteelEye Technology’s LifeKeeper for Linux, from Open Minds, to ensure 24×7 availability of its track and trace system for internal tracking and for customers, via web site access. LifeKeeper provides fast recovery, business continuity resiliency and helps Interlink maintain reliable customer services.

Interlink Ireland serves the Republic and Northern Ireland through 35 depots. The business has 600 employees within its network and 200 people at head office in Athlone. Interlink Ireland is experiencing year on year growth of 30% and is part way through a Ђ20m expansion programme, moving to a custom built head office.

Central to the business success is the ability to keep track of tens of thousands of individual parcels each day. All the regional depots are linked to a central computer system in Athlone where a Progress database ensures each delivery and collection is traced. The system logs booking requests, tracks the parcel through transport and captures signatures when the parcel is delivered. The data is also sent to the website so that customers have 24×7 access to track and trace their goods.

The expansion programme includes replacement of IT systems that underpin Interlink’s business. IT Manager Colin Kennedy explains: “We have a business that is completely dependent on IT systems, but many of the systems were 10 years old and servers and hardware became very slow. For example, some of our reports took over 9 hours to run. We needed to change in order to support the growth of the business.”

Kennedy approached systems integrator, Infinity IT to supply a fast and reliable solution to overcome the difficulties that Interlink experienced with its existing systems. Infinity proposed an open platform and successfully migrated Interlink from its existing Data General proprietary Unix system over to Red Hat Linux Enterprise. As Interlink operates on a 24×7 basis, Infinity recommended that the open solution be enhanced by employing a complete failover resilience and business continuity solution. SteelEye´s LifeKeeper from Open Minds High Availability Solutions had been successfully deployed in other Infinity customer sites and was the most appropriate solution for Interlink in order to give the required level of resilience.

“The IT systems are at the heart of our business. If we lost the server for a couple of hours things would be uncomfortable, and if it went down for a day it would be business critical,” added Kennedy.

Open Minds’ Director, Shobana Patel commented: “We set up two things for Interlink. The first is the data replication facility, so that changes on the main database are immediately copied to the backup server. Secondly, we implemented SteelEye LifeKeeper for Linux. This monitors the status of the database on the live server. If it detects a problem, for example a system crash or a hardware problem, LifeKeeper recognises this and starts running the database from the second server. It automatically reconfigures the network so anyone who was connected to the live machine is connected to the second server. This happens seamlessly and users don’t notice any disruption. LifeKeeper then notifies Colin and his team by email, so they can investigate the problem.”

During all this users are unaware of any problems with the servers, they continue using their systems as normal. This means that the IT department can concentrate on fixing the problem rather than fielding user calls,” remarked Shobana. Both data replication and LifeKeeper were installed at the head office in Athlone over a weekend in November 2005.

Colin concluded, “We chose LifeKeeper because we liked the fact that recovery takes place in under 5 minutes. We did a lot of testing at the time of installation, and so far so good – everything is running really well. LifeKeeper does exactly what it says on the tin. I am impressed with the results and particularly with the way Infinity and Open Minds worked together to provide us with this solution. Having the data replication and the LifeKeeper system provides us with peace of mind and business continuity,”

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