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Business Continuity Planning - Is your business ready?

October 2007 by Marc Jacob

Asdon has selected Double-Take as a trusted partner to offer a high availability platform with disaster recovery options suitable for Northern Ireland S.M.E’s. Over the past few years Asdon has installed systems for its clients offering Disaster Recovery and High Availability built around current IT infrastructures.

When local company Scan Alarms approached Asdon with a specific need for high availability of its core IT Systems, Asdon identified Double-Take as the most suitable solution.

Scan Alarms was formed in 1980 by two brothers, David and Edward Allen, and is now one of the largest privately owned electronic security companies in Northern Ireland. Scan Alarms specialises in providing electronic security systems for commercial, industrial and domestic premises, including intruder alarms, fire alarms, CCTV, access control and other security solutions.

By November 2006, Scan Alarms’ business processes had become heavily reliant on its IT systems. In addition to administrative information, all customer records, such as quotes, installation schemes and service records were stored on a single RAID 5 configured Server of three hard drives. When one of the three hard drives failed, although no data was lost and the company was able to continue with just two functioning hard drives, concern was raised that if more than one drive failed the company’s operational ability would be severely compromised.

These concerns were fully realised when, just a few months later, the RAID controller board failed. With the server approaching its sixth year of service, the spare part was difficult to source and it took almost three days to complete the rebuild of the machine and restore it to working order due to this factor.

Following this event, David Allen, Managing Director of Scan Alarms, took steps to ensure the company’s operation would never be compromised by a Server fault again, “The loss of the server played havoc with our daily procedures, not only during the failure but afterwards while we caught up. I was also very aware that, as we could not electronically pass customer faults to our service engineers during this period, our reputation for excellent customer service could have been compromised. We immediately approached our IT Partner, Asdon, to propose a suitable technology solution.”

Asdon, suggested two possible solutions, replication of company data to a remote disaster recovery location or a high availability system located on the Scan Alarms premises. The high availability system required that Scan Alarms had two servers, one for primary use and the other as backup. Using a solution from Double-Take Software, data would be continuously replicated to the backup server and in the event of an issue with the primary server Double-Take would initiate failover to the backup machine.

The high availability solution offered all the functionality that Scan Alarms required and was considerably less expensive than backing up data at a remote disaster recovery site. As a result, Scan Alarms purchased two new servers and installed Double-Take.

Asdon implemented the system, with real-time replication and failover capabilities, within a few days. Numerous tests were undertaken to prove the capabilities of the technology. The tests conclusively demonstrated that Scan Alarms would never again experience a service black-out of the nature they had previously endured.

The new system now ensures that, should the primary server fail again, staff will still be able to access customer details, calls will still be logged and passed electronically to service engineers(allowing them to reach customers as quickly as possible) and access to all processing data will still be available, which is of utmost importance to Scan Alarms’ business.

In addition to solving the business continuity issue, Double-Take has enabled Scan to continue towards their vision of a paperless office by ensuring that all transactions, invoicing and other business tasks can be undertaken electronically, without the fear of data loss. This is of particular importance to the engineers, who traditionally had to fill out paperwork for each customer, only visiting head office on a weekly or fortnightly basis to return paperwork for processing. They now carry iPAQs and can undertake all administration duties remotely, ensuring maximum productivity. Now that the company is able to rely entirely on electronic methods, customers can be invoiced the same day and files can be kept completely up-to-date, increasing productivity and efficiency.

Company: Scan Alarms & Security Systems (UK) Ltd
Business: Scan Alarms is one of the largest privately owned
electronic security companies in Northern Ireland
Offices: Northern Ireland
Employees: 40
Needs: High availability of data

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