Gill Industries, Inc., a major supplier of engineered mechanical assemblies for the automotive and other industries, can certainly vouch for the fact that one failure or disaster would more than pay for its high availability (HA) solution. In 2002, Gill Industries had a hard drive fail on its iSeries, which triggered additional hardware problems. By the time the problems were repaired, the applications were reinstalled, and all data was restored from tapes, over four days of downtime had elapsed. During this downtime period, nearly 600 employees had to revert to manual procedures, which slowed down manufacturing and created enormous amounts of confusion, backtracking, and overtime. At the end of this stressful (and very expensive) period, the company vowed that it would never again risk an extended downtime period, and the search for a reliable, yet affordable HA solution began.
Says John Flick, Director of Information Technology at Gill Industries, "Because of the nature of our business, if we can't get shipping information out of our system and transmit it via EDI within 30 minutes from the time a shipment leaves the dock, we can be fined as much as $5,000 per instance by our customers. For us, the entire purpose of high availability is to give us the peace of mind that we won't ever again have to face the cost of several days of downtime."
During the search for an HA solution, Gill Industries learned that IBM's remote journaling functionality was an essential component because of it's unparalleled efficiency at keeping objects synchronized, and the company soon found an HA solution with remote journaling at a reasonable price. However, soon after installation, a major problem arose: The chosen HA software wouldn't reliably replicate certain types of objects in the MAPICS application (Gill's ERP software). Says system analyst, Jennifer Comden,, "I was on the phone with their HA support people nearly every day working to resolve this issue, but finally got to a point where I just had to shut down the product and go find another solution."
Comden learned about iTera and the Echo² High Availability product and was pleasantly surprised to discover that Echo² was widely and successfully installed in many MAPICS environments. This clinched the decision to purchase Echo², and just three days after installation began, the product was fully configured, all operators were trained, and both systems were in full synchronization.
"Right away, we could tell the difference between how well Echo² runs as opposed to our previous HA software," asserts a very pleased Comden. "It was clear that all of the problems we had with our previous HA product were immediately solved." Not long after installation, Comden and her coworkers did their first test of the role-swap process (switching users and processes to the mirrored backup system). "The rollover training and testing was so smooth that the trainer was actually able to leave early,"Comden relates. "The entire role swap test was performed in about two hours--the actual swapping of systems taking only a few minutes--with most of the time spent to simply verify the replication of data both before and after the process. While running on our backup system, we signed on, performed several test transactions, printed labels, ran queries, and more. Everything worked smoothly."
As for the day-to-day use of the product, Gill Industries finds it easy to use and reliable. Adds Comden, "I spend five minutes a day to monitor the product, usually first thing in the morning. In addition, there is rarely any latency [data on the production system waiting to be sent to the backup system]." Comden concludes, "Now that we have the right HA installed, I know that in a crisis situation we will have our systems back online within 15 to 30 minutes, instead of four days, like our last failure."
Check out iTera's offerings in the MC Showcase Buyer's Guide.
iTera, Inc. is an award-winning developer of high availability and disaster recovery solutions for IBM iSeries. For more information, visit www.iterainc.com, or call 800.957.4511.