Jeff Gorball, senior vice president of operations at Kingland Systems Corp., will tell you: Your availability guarantee is only as good as your execution.
Kingland develops software products and operates mission-critical data centers for the financial industry, government agencies and audit services. The company prides itself on its disaster recovery record and high-availability data centers.
The Clear Lake, Iowa-based company, which was recently honored by IBM for its innovative use of the iSeries, makes a regular practice of switching its data center operations to a backup system at a remote site during peak business hours.
While Gorball admits application service providers have gotten a bad name of late, Kingland can boast customers in over 80 countries that rely on the company's continued service. Downtime is not an option, considering service level agreements that have penalties of up to several hundreds of thousands of dollars should Kingland fail to meet them.
Gorball explains that the key to success is replicating data real time between the sites. That's why his team performs these redundancy tests during the day, as opposed to off hours.
"In reality, if you can't make a switch in a reasonable timeframe, you're not high availability. We intentionally switch to the alternate system during peak times," Gorball said. "With the practice we've developed, we can virtually guarantee that our availability will perform at a business day load. Our staff is very well versed in what it takes."
According to Gorball, if you want to address the challenge of availability, you need hardware that provides its own capability to deal with failure. He attributes the reliability, power and performance of the iSeries with Kingland's ability to successfully handle backup workloads during peak hours.
"The iSeries hardware is very strong," Gorball said. "You want equipment engineered to employ redundancies."
In the first of what was promised to be an ongoing annual awards ceremony, IBM and COMMON jointly honored Kingland and four other companies with iSeries Innovation Awards at the recent users conference in Chicago.
Kingland won the Insurance Award for its backup and recovery policies. Success in this category is measured by the amount of planned and unplanned downtime incurred, as well as having a successful high availability plan.
Other winners include U-Bix Konica Minolta, winner of the Industry Solution Award; GHY International, winner of the Infrastructure Simplification Award; ScottKlement.com, winner of the Intellectual Award; and the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, winner of the Inventive Award.
"We regularly have to replicate 40 million to 50 million systems transactions a day between our primary and alternate systems," said Gorball, who credits Mimix data replication tools from Lakeview Technology with this ability. "If any unplanned outage occurs, such as a power failure or a natural disaster, we need our hardware and networking infrastructure well protected."
Kingland has a data center in Clear Lake, Iowa, and an alternate in Lake Mills, Iowa. According to Gorball, the data centers are on separate power grids, but he said that with a caveat.
"A separate power grid is only separate to a certain point, but it would take a catastrophic power loss throughout the Midwest to hit both of our systems," he said . "And even then, we have back up generators."
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