Netherlands-headquartered Rabobank was founded as a cooperative over onehundred years ago by rural Dutch farmers. With little or no access to city-based capital markets, they decided to help each other. Since then, the bank has expanded well beyond its roots in agricultural financing. Rabobank Nederland is the umbrella organization for more than 140 local, independent Rabobanks. Rabobank International satisfies the demands of Rabobank business customers for services abroad. Today, Rabobank offers almost ten million customers in forty-four countries a wide range of financial products, all based on the cooperative banking principles upon which the company originally was formed.
Within the Netherlands, two data centers support Rabobank activities. The facilities, one of them an award-winning green data center, are located eighteen fiberkilometers apart to support high-speed, low-latency communication between the two. Several years ago, the bank committed itself to an enterprise-wide virtual tape strategy in order to reduce recovery times following system failures and to eliminate the risk of loss or corruption of physical backup media.
Rabobank Loves NonStop
Rabobank is a prominent user of HP NonStop servers, and thirty-two NonStops are distributed throughout the two data centers. Twelve are configured as six
active/active systems. Applications run simultaneously in both data centers, and each copy of the application shares the processing load. Should one server fail, its
load is picked up without interruption by its companion application running in the other data center.
Another twelve NonStop servers run as six active/hot-backup pairs. One data center is designated the production data center, and the other serves as the disaster recovery site. The hot-backup systems are maintained in tight synchronization with their production systems via NonStop RDF/ZLT (Remote Data Facility/Zero Lost Transactions) replication. Once every six months, Rabobank switches the roles of the production and backup sites to ensure that failovers, if necessary, will be successful. It accomplishes a complete data center switchover in one hour followed by three hours of testing before the new production center is placed into service.
The remaining eight NonStop systems include a data warehouse, a housekeeping system, and six systems dedicated to development and testing.
Mission-Critical NonStop Did Not Support Rabobank’s Hitachi Corporate SAN
Rabobank’s investment in NonStop servers for its mission-critical applications presented the financial institution with a challenge. The bank’s Hitachi corporate storage area network (SAN) provided the storage and retrieval of virtual tape backup images for the bank’s other IT systems, but it was not supported by NonStop. As a result, the bank had resorted to a NonStop-specific virtual tape backup solution. As Rabobank expanded its NonStop presence to thirty-two servers, so grew the necessity for more NonStop virtual tape appliances – eleven in one data center, nine in the other – with the accompanying demand for additional power and space.
Rabobank prides itself on its commitment to sustainable business operations. To that end, the bank promotes energy efficiency, smaller physical footprints, and staff optimization. As the number of NonStop systems increased, Rabobank sought a virtual tape backup/restore solution that allowed the NonStops to interface with the Hitachi SAN. The bank selected ETI-NET’s BackBox, thereby eliminating the need for NonStop-specific virtual tape storage equipment and enabling in the process a bank-wide shared storage infrastructure.
BackBox Integrates NonStop Servers with Otherwise Incompatible Corporate Storage Subsystems
BackBox uses Windows-based servers as virtual tape appliances that integrate a wide variety of corporate storage subsystems with standard NonStop backup and recovery utilities. Virtual volumes are managed by unmodified Guardian media manager software. BackBox can be configured to be fault-tolerant, with backup load shared by the two BackBox Virtual Tape Controllers (VTCs). A NonStop tape mount can be executed by either of the VTCs, which then handles the associated backup. A backup can be restored from either VTC, not just the one that wrote it. Should one fail, the other VTC can take over all backup activities without the need for manual intervention.
A two-VTC redundant configuration supports thirty-two fiber ports, sixteen per VTC. Rabobank placed a redundant pair of VTCs in each of its two data centers. The six active/active and the six active/hot-backup NonStop servers in each data center are connected to both VTCs of the redundant pair. The remaining eight available ports per data center are more than sufficient to handle single connections to the remaining noncritical NonStop systems. For future growth of NonStop systems, additional VTCs can be added, with up to sixteen fiber ports per VTC.
Rabobank Achieves Sustainable Savings and Gains a Shared Backup Infrastructure
Within six weeks of replacing the twenty NonStop-specific HP virtual tape appliances with two BackBox VTC redundant pairs, Rabobank had migrated twenty-two terabytes of backup data to the Hitachi corporate SAN. Accompanying the migration was a significant savings in equipment, space, energy, and administration. Rabobank estimates that staff time needed to manage NonStop backup processes has been reduced by a factor of four, and BackBox’s improved handling of scratch tapes and its superior compression capabilities have decreased the bank’s NonStop disk storage requirements from 62 terabytes to 28 terabytes.
Equally important, all systems in the bank’s two data centers now use the Hitachi corporate SAN; and backup procedures are common across all systems. The shared infrastructure serves to enhance Rabobank’s strategy for sustainable business operations and was achieved in cooperation with the seamless, cost-effective features of ETI-NET’s BackBox product.