In the insurance business, the most critical moments are those immediately following a disaster. Customers who have been paying premiums for years count on their providers to be there for them and help them get back on their feet after a tornado, flood or hurricane. And so, for leaders at the Wisconsin-based insurance company Church Mutual, it was especially distressing to think that a natural disaster might wipe out their own company’s IT systems.
“We were having less-than-desirable results with our disaster recovery testing,” Craig Huss, Church Mutual’s assistant vice president and CISO, says of the company’s previous tape backup solution. “We were less than 50 percent successful in recovering data, and we were looking at 12 to 24 hours after a disaster just to get our tapes out of the library and get them shipped to a recovery center.”
The solution was slow and unreliable. And the tapes were backed up only once per day, meaning that they were often missing up to 12 hours of the company’s data. “In all, it was going to take up to four days us to get our company back up and running after a disaster,” Huss says. “We needed something with a lot more reliability and speed.”
Church Mutual wanted a solution that would replicate data to a secondary site in real time, but Huss knew that developing and testing such a solution would require extensive planning, expertise and manpower. So, the company deployed a Disaster Recovery as a Service engagement with CDW that would ensure business continuity during and after a disaster, while also reducing responsibilities of the IT staff.
Al Berman, president of the Disaster Recovery Institute Foundation and past president of Disaster Recovery Institute International, says that the popularity of DRaaS reflects a growing sense among IT leaders that antiquated backup solutions should be jettisoned in favor of more comprehensive disaster recovery strategies.
“The era where we talk about ‘backups’ is slowly but surely disappearing,” Berman says. “People talk about backups, but I look at data loss. It’s important to have clearly delineated objectives. What’s really important are things like customer satisfaction and regulatory compliance. If you use that as a guideline, you don’t get caught up in the technology. You get caught up in the business. And that has to be the focus.”
Church Mutual purchased the IBM Storwize V7000 storage area network for its primary data center and procured space at a colocation facility about 170 miles from the company’s headquarters. It then worked with CDW to replicate data from the primary site to the backup site in nearly real time.