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Orion role-swap eases Bank South Pacific’s migration to new data centre

  • 23 April, 2009 11:05

<p>When Bank South Pacific (BSP) expanded to the point where its information technology staff needed to add new protected servers and relocate the data centre, they were able to migrate systems software and business information seamlessly from the old hardware in only five hours.</p>
<p>Key to this achievement was careful planning and testing by the bank’s IT team, helped by Mid-Comp International, plus the use of Vision Solutions’ Orion high availability (HA) solution for role-swapping between old and new servers. Then in February 2009, Orion’s role-swap capability enabled BSP to recover quickly after a server crash that affected banking in PNG and Fiji.</p>
<p>Bank South Pacific is Papua New Guinea's largest and 100 per cent nationally owned commercial bank, operating 36 branches in PNG and overseas branches in Niue, Fiji and Solomon Islands. A Standard &amp; Poor’s Report in December 2008 spoke of the bank’s ‘strong operating efficiency’.</p>
<p>By 2008, earlier acquisitions of Habib Bank Ltd, Fiji, and National Bank of Solomon Islands, augmented by growing business in PNG, were pushing Bank South Pacific’s four existing IBM 825 (formerly AS400) servers to their limits. After acquiring new IBM i5 (model 570) servers, IT staff faced the complex task of transferring systems and data from the old servers with minimal disruption to banking business. A decision to move simultaneously to a new data centre, intensified the problem.</p>
<p>The decision to use Orion was made in light of the operation’s complexity. Moving the systems software, third-party communications and transaction processing for all branch tellers, ATMs, Internet and phone banking, required careful planning and testing. Mid-Comp’s Systems Engineer Greg Gilmour spent two weeks on-site before the switchover, helping to co-ordinate planning and testing.</p>
<p>Vision Solutions’ Orion high availability (HA) application for IBM i Systems provides continuous availability of mission-critical applications in the event of planned or unplanned downtime. Mid-Comp is the sole distributor in Australia for Vision Solutions’ products.</p>
<p>Orion is a flexible and scalable solution designed for the transaction-heavy, multi-system and clustered IBM i environments, typically in large and global organisations. Its high-throughput architecture supports millions of transactions per minute. Data accuracy is protected with multi-layered integrity checking and correcting.</p>
<p>Orion’s role-swapping capabilities allowed Bank of South Pacific to cut over the bank’s entire operations from old infrastructure to a pair of new, protected servers sitting in a new computer centre, with minimum disruption and no data loss. This migration technique was preferred to the traditional tape save/restore method, a seemingly simple task that – more often than not – is fraught with perils. With such a complex infrastructure to switch, it was absolutely essential that the bank get it right first time on migration day.</p>
<p>Bank of South Pacific’s Information Technology Manager, Avis Vila, and her team spent some months duplicating and testing all elements of the move. Ultimately the cutover took just five hours on a Saturday afternoon, freeing the rest of the weekend for the inevitable post-move end-to-end testing and quality control tasks.</p>
<p>“It went perfectly, without a hitch because of the way in which Greg and our people planned the whole project,” said Avis Vila. “Setting up software on the new box and ensuring data replication and protection to the disaster recovery (DR) box is working perfectly. We lost no business tasks, nor any data from our 640,000 accounts in PNG and Fiji.”</p>
<p>She said that all operations on the old hardware was transferred successfully to the two new i5 platforms – a production server and a disaster recovery platform. During this process the existing DR server acted as a fallback platform, ensuring constant protection. Each new machine has five logical partitions. To date, Papua New Guinea and Fiji operations are running on the production machine, while Solomon Islands business is being converted at present. When conversion and testing of Solomons business data is complete, it will be moved across to the new hardware. So will new functionality such as EFTPOS for Fiji.</p>
<p>“At this stage it’s just a matter of switching over,” said Avis Vila. “Some things need testing and fine-tuning and may not work first time, but Orion has fulfilled all our expectations. We are all happy with it. We trusted Mid-Comp’s ability to use a role-swapping methodology rather than the traditional migration path, and the results have more than justified that decision. It has saved us time and simplified what might have been a complex and difficult process.”</p>
<p>As more international banking business is taken on board, Avis and her team are working with Mid-Comp towards configuring the production server so that if it should fail, all systems and business data can be switched to the disaster recovery server. “We will have five partitions on the i5 and five on the DR box, and if one goes down, we won’t lose those branches – all we have to do is switch,” says Avis. “With Mid-Comp’s help, we are confident that this can be achieved.” Mid-Comp Director Denis Vaughan replied that Avis’s professionalism and that of the bank’s Project Manager, Cliff Young, contributed significantly to the project’s success.</p>
<p>Bank South Pacific’s role-swapping capabilities yielded added value in early February 2009 when the i5 production server failed while IT staff were inserting a new card. Although they lost management control, they able to switch the critical environment over to the DR platform in a controlled manner. Some bank processing time was lost after a hitch with licensing and access to control codes, but it was soon business as usual .</p>
<p>“The incident presented us with an opportunity to make procedural changes and get our Fiji business right,” said Avis Vila. “It also proved the added-value of Orion and Mid-Comp.”</p>
<p>About Mid-Comp International</p>
<p>Mid-Comp International Pty Ltd ( is an Australian developer and supplier of business software solutions that encompass intelligent supply chain, managed availability and IBM systems management. Recently Elders Ltd chose the firm’s Odyssey intelligent supply chain solution in preference to systems from 100-plus vendors including SAP AG and Lawson Software. Odyssey is believed to be the world’s largest pure Java system. Stockman, Mid-Comp’s scaled down version of Odyssey, is targeted at SME supply chain customers. Both solutions are based on Internet delivered technology. Mid-Comp enjoys a strategic relationship with IBM, and supplies products and services to a client list that includes dominant Australian commercial enterprises. The company also supplies product to organisations in 26 countries, including many Fortune 500 companies.</p>
<p>For more information</p>
<p>Steve Bridges,
CEO, Mid-Comp International Pty Ltd
Phone: (03) 9915 5200 or 0407 498 400
<p>David Frost
PR Deadlines Pty Ltd
Phone: (02) 4341 5021

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