|By Josh Mazgelis||
|April 2, 2014 01:36 PM EDT||
As a curious, social person at heart, the best part of my job is undoubtedly meeting customers and hearing at first hand what issues and challenges they grapple with on a daily basis, especially those that keep them awake at night. I’m also a bit of a magpie because I love to steal their best ideas and reflect these back into our product roadmap. Everyone wins when we deliver what customers really need.
So I had a very enjoyable day out of the office yesterday to meet with the head of infrastructure and operations at one of the UK’s leading mutual financial services providers. With assets of £7bn, it is one of the largest mortgage providers in the UK, serving clients through the internet and telephone as well as at around 100 high street branches. Since I can’t reveal their identity here, I will simply refer to them as The Bank.
The Bank has invested significantly in information technology, with all core banking systems developed in-house using Windows and .NET and deployed on around 350 production VMs, managed via SCOM. Including dev and test, they have 500-600 VMs overall and are a poster child for VMware with only 15 physical file servers yet to be virtualised. Critical systems are protected using a combination of Veeam backup, Microsoft DPM backup (for SQL & Exchange only), virtual clustering for HA, and VMware Site Recovery Manager with vSphere Replication for disaster recovery.
The Bank has an obligation to demonstrate to their auditors that critical banking systems are protected from local and site disasters. Moreover, their IT Ops team have an internal obligation to report compliance status monthly to executive management, meaning that they must be in a position to demonstrate that key systems are appropriately backed up and replicated across to their DR site within service level targets. The problem they face is that it is currently too resource intensive to produce either report. For example, it takes 4 hours for IT Ops to run through daily backup reporting looking for failed Veeam and DPM jobs. They estimate that to produce the monthly internal compliance reports would require one full-time equivalent (FTE) head dedicated continuously to the task. With a team of just 12 ops professionals running all system across The Bank and its subsidiaries, the manual effort to product compliance reporting simply cannot be justified. Instead, they talk through their procedures to protect key systems with executive management and auditors, but they are in no position today to prove that these systems are protected as envisaged.
The reason why The Bank purchased Architect is simply that it automates the production of compliance reporting so that they can prove compliance at the press of a button. Specifically, they will be able to see at a glance where data protection technologies (Veeam, virtual clustering, SRM/vSphere replication) have been deployed, how they have been configured, and whether they will meet service level targets or not. The business case for Architect was simple insofar as it automates the production of compliance reporting and, in the process, saves one FTE head. Although I can’t get into the specific numbers here, The Bank’s ROI will be less than six months.
I also heard some great ideas on enhancements that will make Architect uniquely valuable to The Bank and, by extension, enable Neverfail to offer a world-class compliance solution to the broader banking market. For example, we plan to extend Architect’s behavior from being fundamentally passive to one where Architect takes on an active role. Today, customers use Architect to identify exceptional cases within their technology resiliency strategy and then they go on to manually tweak the protection configuration of those exceptional items to bring them back into compliance. Since Architect’s ROI is driven by eliminating cost from the IT Ops budget, it is a no-brainer to take the next step and use the REST APIs that we integrate with to action the insights coming out of Architect by offering automated configuration updating. So think about automating the restart of failed Veeam backup jobs, or changing the config of Veeam or vSphere backup/replication RPOs to bring protection back into compliance, all at the press of a button within Architect. That, as they say, is the future!
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