Munich Re Automation Solutions Ltd – Hybrid Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution
Munich Re Automation Solutions Ltd, is the world leading software provider of new business underwriting solutions to the life insurance industry. Headquartered in Dublin, the Automation Solutions division of Munich Re has offices in Japan, Singapore, Australia, Germany and the U.S. Its client base includes world leading insurance companies. Munich Re Automation Solutions Ltd is a division of the Munich Re Group.
The major business requirement for Munich Re Automation Solutions Ltd is the ability to react very quickly to requests from their client base around the world, meeting product and project delivery deadlines and stringent support SLAs.
To ensure no loss of service to the wider organisation on a 24 x 7 basis, Munich Re had to have a backup and DR infrastructure that could support the critical nature of their business.
Technically, the environment consisted of thirteen x86 servers running in a mixed physical and virtual infrastructure, backing up to tape using CA ArcServe. In storage capacity terms, the environment was approximately 10TB of data.
The company previously used an external provider to store tapes offsite on a weekly basis. They also had a DR site where they were renting forty “hot seats” to allow the most critical users access to the primary systems in the event of having to invoke a full DR scenario.
While the system operated adequately, it was not ideal as it was dependent on tape, a secondary physical site, and people having to manually re-build servers and restore data in the event of a serious failure. The Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and the Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) could be improved upon for the business to be better able to guarantee uninterrupted service to the global customers in the event of a system failure in Dublin. On top of that, DR testing was a major undertaking for the company to carry out.
Faced with meeting the increasing demands of a global business looking for 24 x 7 support, Munich Re were faced with either a further expensive investment in a traditional DR solution – with dual sites and all the replication required in terms of hardware and software etc, or looking at a cloud based alternative.
The Hybrid Cloud Backup Solution
After a detailed evaluation process, Munich Re chose Savenet to design and implement a new hybrid cloud backup and DR solution. The solution consisted of two primary elements – one cloud based, to cover major disasters / system failures, the other was based on-site, to cover smaller localised failures / disruptions.
Onsite solution: A Backup and Data Recovery appliance was installed on site built using FalconStor Continuous Data Protection technology. This is connected to all the servers and provides disk based continuous data protection. It enables any point in time recovery for local DR. Using this BDR appliance allows new versions of the existing servers to be spun up and served to the network within minutes in the event that any of the existing servers develop a problem.
Snapshots of each server are sent to the cloud based DR environment every hour so that the cloud system is replicating what is happening locally. There is real time replication for mission critical applications.
Cloud solution: The entire server environment is replicated in Savenet’s secure cloud hosting environment, based in a Dublin data centre. Asigra Cloud Backup was used to backup Munich Re’s data and removes the need for tapes and Arc Serve in the environment. All the files and databases are guaranteed to be available within minutes in the event that a data loss, audit or some other request to access old files should arise. Asigra Cloud backup was used to achieve this in a very cost effective way.
The cloud solution Savenet built for Munich Re allows that in the event of a full disaster, where the servers are all out of action due to a catastrophic failure like fire or a flood, the business can roll over to the cloud servers easily and extremely quickly. There is provision for seventy users to have immediate access to the critical business applications. All these users have to do is use an existing hyperlink to login securely via an SSL VPN and access a hosted desktop over the web. The users can be based anywhere with a broadband connection which is extremely important for the company and its overseas users.
This system gives Munich Re the assurance that their critical application updates, patches and build versions continue to be available to their users and customers, and can withstand any form of disaster; from a locally based minor system interruption or server failure, to a major disaster where their computer room is destroyed.
Solution Benefits and Ongoing Development
• Recover Point Objective (RPO) reduced from twenty four hours – to one hour.
• Recovery Time Objective (RTO) reduced from three days – to two hours.
• 95% of their data is de-duped before being sent to the DR site. This results in massive bandwidth savings and the cloud based DR solution does not require any additional bandwidth capacity, even with ½ TB of data being replicated each day.
• Global IT teams have guaranteed access to critical software versions and file data regardless of any kind of disaster or system failure in Dublin.
• Very significant risk reduction for the business.
• Very significant savings on long term costs.
• Simplified and reduced the cost of running the IT environment
Traditionally, Munich Re would have to keep renting their own DR facilities in a hosting provider, including the cost of 70 hot seats in DR facility. They would have to hire a services company to design the architecture, then evaluate and buy the necessary technology and then administer it over the long term. All the while they would have to factor in the cost of depreciating hardware, hardware maintenance costs, recurring software licensing costs. Then, you have the internal IT management cost of all this, which is non-core activity.
Due to the success of the hybrid cloud backup and DR solution in Dublin, Munich Re decided to Implement this same Asigra based hybrid cloud backup solution for the Tokyo and Sydney offices in late 2014.
In China Munich Re are currently delivering a complex web application financial system to customers across all of china from data centres in Shanghai and Beijing. Savenet were tasked to design, build, implement and manage a complex onsite and remote disaster recovery and backup solution for both data centres.
Savenet had to compete against Chinese IT companies to win the business.
In the end no Chinese company could be found that could deliver a fully managed hybrid cloud backup and disaster recovery solution to the same level as Savenet. The solution was implemented late last year and in March 2015 we successfully completed a DR test for the two data centres in China as well as the Dublin office.
These global solutions were designed, implemented and managed by the Savenet team in Dublin.
All this was done without anyone from Savenet having to travel to the customer’s sites – all done remotely, with the obvious savings in costs and time to the client.
Fausto Teghillo IT Manager said, “The hybrid cloud backup and DR system got the opportunity to prove its worth when the hardware on legacy system failed recently at the time it was needed to deliver an important patch for a client. Rebuilding this system would have proven extremely lengthy and difficult. Instead Savenet were able to restore it as a virtual machine within twenty minutes with no data loss. The service has already more than paid for itself, as the financial loss to the business of this critical server being unavailable for even a few hours would be in six figure sums.”
“Thanks to the top quality service from Savenet we can continue to provide our own customers with the high quality, high availability service they have come to expect. Meeting the needs of our ever expanding global customer base is a challenge we know we can meet in a way that is not only robust and resilient but is also highly cost effective, thanks to the expertise provided by the Savenet team.”
“It is always a concern putting something as important as our disaster recovery facility into someone else’s hands but our experiences so far have proved, both to the people at the desks and to the executive management team, that we have a great partner in Savenet. Right from the proposal and design phases we had the confidence that Savenet understood our needs, proposed solutions that met them in a way that matched seamlessly with our own processes and had the technical ability to deliver them,” he said.