Roi Bruchim, Direct Finance infrastructure manager tells why MedOne was selected to host his company’s DRP site
Who Are We
Direct Finance is a consumer credit company belonging to the Direct Insurance – Financial investments Ltd. Group. It specializes in a comprehensive solution for consumer credit for financing purchases of vehicles in Israel, and in providing loans to individuals for any purpose.
Direct Finance’s information systems serve about 160 users, and operate on about 120 servers. The virtual servers environment, which is run on VMware infrastructure, is supplied with the most advanced technological solutions for information security, communications and storage.
Roi Bruchim, Direct Finance infrastructure manager talks about the process which ultimately led to the selection of MedOne as the site on which its DRP facilities would be hosted.
Why is DRP necessary?
Bruchim explains that the continual growth in the volume of information and the general interdependence of Direct Finance’s various information systems have created major challenges in ensuring business continuity. Direct Finance wanted to ensure that its information systems would operate properly at all times. Therefore, an alternate DRP system was needed to enable rapid recovery from a shutdown or disaster in the mainframe and to resume regular efficient operations.
The fact that Direct Finance provides large amounts of credit, adds Bruchim, has created a situation where we cannot risk a system shutdown that would prevent repayment of the credit provided. “The principal challenge facing us was therefore to establish a DRP facility that could be used, when necessary, as an immediate solution for internal and external emergencies”, he said.
“Because Direct Finance conducts thousands of business transactions every day involving large sums of money, there is a real need for a hot DR system that can go back and retrieve information at any time. Until we contacted MedOne, the existing DR system was based on recording backups, a solution which requires a relatively long recovery period.”
Assessments by Direct Finance led to the conclusion that in the event of a disaster or a major shutdown of the system due to flooding, fire, a cyber attack, or damage to the building, it would take weeks to restore the system to full working capacity.
We must understand that a systems shutdown and a halt in their regular work, even if the shutdown is “only” for 24 hours, means a loss of millions of shekels. We cannot allow such a situation. Accordingly, Direct Finance’s management made an uncompromising commitment to set up an alternate site in order to attain certain and stable business continuity.
“Given the array of risks,” Bruchim says, “it became clear that we had to establish a remote DRP system, which would include emphasis on the ability to continue operating the company at a distance, even in the event of damage to the existing servers farm on the main site.”
After exploring the options available to the company, Bruchim explains, Direct Finance’s management decided to select the solution of setting up a DRP site at MedOne’s facilities. MedOne facilities were chosen with the realization that this environment provided the highest level of secure hosting services, with 99.9% guaranteed survivability.
“Among the additional advantages motivating our selection were the geographic deployment of MedOne’s facilities, which made it possible to choose sites not in the center of Israel, the security system at the facility, considered the most stringent and advanced of its kind in Israel, and of course the array of infrastructure, which contains all the most advanced tools for attaining an optimal advantage.
“The decision-making process was thorough and complex, with quite a few proposals on the table. Among other things, we examined a number of possibilities for establishing a DR site, and some even proposed continuing to work with recordings and transferring them to a safe site. The option of using cloud computing for DR purposes was raised, and even of setting up a site of our own. “It should be noted, says Bruchim, “we very quickly rejected the option of setting up the site by ourselves, after concluding that building and operating such a computer center would mean dealing with a range of operating problems involving construction, floor space, air-conditioning, electricity, generators, physical security, communications, etc. It was clear that such processes would require major management resources and a great deal of time, and would contribute nothing to our core business. Therefore, outsourcing the DRP site using facilities and infrastructure of the type provided by MedOne was therefore revealed to be a more economic and safer option, with significant business and technological advantages.”
Other considerations that led to choosing the MedOne solution
- The physical security system at MedOne facilities is among the strictest in the world, featuring the highest standards in both the systems installed and the security procedures practiced there.
- The ICT facilities provide a solution to a wide array of threats and risks.
- The facilities are protected by a massive envelope of reinforced concrete (double layer) and a security system (access control and CCTV) and the facility’s security team guarding the facility 24 hours a day.
- The system is comprised of a total of eight security layers, both internal and external.
- High levels of compartmentalization within the various parts of the facility.
- Hand-picked team of security guards following a battery of comprehensive reliability tests.
- All doors and entryways are monitored by the access monitoring system which includes proximity cards, biometric palm readers and secure access portals which provide optimal compartmentalization between the different parts of the facility, and are situated in the access path of each visitor. The facility is video-recorded at all times by a closed-circuit surveillance and recording system, including all external and internal aspects.
The Situation Today
According to Bruchim’s description, the new server farm built includes a complete DRP site that provides a complete comprehensive solution for Direct Insurance’s survivability and business continuity. Even if the main server farm is completely wiped out, business activity can be resumed immediately.
The system that was set up is located in a special cage containing servers and communications equipment fully-owned by Direct Insurance, to which its personnel has exclusive access. The equipment installed in this cage includes VMware ESX servers, NetApp storage servers, a DR server, and an additional robot for an extra backup on recordings. The system is also supplied with Cisco communications switches and advanced information security solutions.
“Setting up the DR site in MedOne facilities has enabled us to achieve the business continuity goals which we set. Implementing the solution in these secure facilities at the highest standard in the world lets us sleep peacefully, knowing with certainty that even in an extreme case of a complete shutdown of the main site, we will be able to resume full operations within a matter of hours, without any disruption of business continuity.
“You have to see this impressive underground site in order to understand the standards of security and survivability,” Bruchim adds. “There is no doubt that in order to independently obtain a similar level, this would call for huge investments which few companies can afford.
“Furthermore, linking the main server system to MedOne’s hosting server farm has enabled us to benefit from DRP services, while achieving optimal levels of survivability and availability at low and completely predictable costs. Using this solution for the DRP site allows for flexible growth according to the company’s needs in terms of space, power, air-conditioning, and other infrastructure required, if necessary.
“At the end of the day,” Bruchim continues, “implementing the DR solution at the MedOne site allowed us to progress from a situation in which our recovery capability would have taken several weeks to a situation in which recovery takes several hours. That’s a real revolution in our business continuity and survivability capability. This has a major impact on the way we operate and our readiness to meet the stringent standards typical of financial systems.
“In our business world, a system shutdown means losing working relations with the car dealers, leading to a loss of business and profits. This situation is a substantial business threat that we cannot afford. Setting up the DR site and implementing it in the secure facilities of MedOne has put an end to this fear, and created a new era of business continuity in the organization.
“I cannot conclude without mentioning the broad professional backing we received from MedOne’s staff of experts during the entire process, and now, too, of course,” Bruchim sums up with a smile. “The dozens of projects in which MedOne is involved enables them to lead the process safely and surely, and to implement it glitch-free.”
Other Benefits of the Project
- An enormous saving in physical infrastructure investments
- Maximum flexibility and the capability for growth at the highest survivability levels obtainable.
- Potential savings of millions of shekels owing to the ability to prevent servers from crashing and the resulting shutdown of the system for several days.
- Ensuring continuity and the prevention of loss of income and information needed for financial reporting.
“There is no doubt that setting up the DR in MedOne’s facilities has proved to be extremely successfully from both the financial and the quality standpoints,” Bruchim concludes. “Implementing the solution has enabled us to take significant technological strides with an end-to-end solution, including business continuity. Once a real threat, the risks of shutdowns are reduced today to zero. Today, we can definitely sleep peacefully at night.”