The Queensland Government employee superannuation fund, QSuper, has implemented technology to ensure more high-availability and resilience to unexpected or planned downtime.
QSuper claims more than half a million members and $21 billion in funds under management, but if IT staff needed to take a critical server off-line for maintenance, it would take minutes to cut over to a backup machine and allow the business to keep running.
QSuper’s executive manager for business change, Baden Sharples, said with an increase in QSuper members using the Internet to access their superannuation account details, the need for 24 by 7 availability for backend systems became critical.
Changes to applications and other data are now replicated in real time to a secondary server.
“Also, in an increasingly regulated business environment, we needed to reduce risk exposure by making sure our disaster recovery (DR) setup was working effectively,” Sharples said.
During the 2006 technology upgrade at QSuper, IBM introduced Vision Solutions’ Orion software to keep business-critical information protected and contracted Mid-Comp International to supply the solution (via Vision Solutions in the US), the services and support.
“We were looking to improve the availability to the business of our core administration systems,” Sharples said. “The capability to have up-to-date information on a secondary server and at our disaster recovery site reduces our business risks significantly in the event of server downtime, or should we have to rely on the remote DR site.”
QSuper’s System i servers are located at the its Brisbane headquarters and at a separate disaster recovery site.
About 150 Windows systems also run business applications which are used by some 450 staff.
Mid-Comp director Denis Vaughan said since QSuper implemented Orion, IBM has also introduced Mid-Comp/Vision Solutions into the Commonwealth Bank and the NSW Department of Education and Training.
Sharples said the QSuper technology evaluation team found Orion to be the “best fit” for the organisation’s requirements.
The team conducted a technical assessment and reference-checking "to make sure that on the rare occasions when we might need it, high availability and disaster recovery will work".
"Orion allows the systems to keep running during testing so we can ensure the integrity of our systems with no transactions lost," Baden said. "It has delivered greater availability, reduced risk for the business and improved service delivery for customers. Orion has supported us in moving towards 24x 7 availability for our core systems."
Instead of having to restore from backup tapes, which took from 24 to 48 hours, system administrators can now switch over to a second IBM System i machine in minutes.
QSuper senior enterprise systems administrator, Hector McMillan, said Orion is reliable and needs some maintenance occasionally for upgrades and patches, “but you don’t mess with something that works so effectively”.
He sayid that as QSuper’s systems grow to accommodate business expansion, the technology will remain within the Series i Orion platform.