Champion Tech delivers SAN-based disaster recovery to dodge hurricanes

2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Awards: Roland Etcheverry

2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Awards

Roland Etcheverry

Champion Technologies

When he became CTO of petrochemical firm Champion Technologies, Roland Etcheverry walked into a disaster-recovery greenfield. There was no real disaster-recovery system in place, as fail-over technology was just starting to come into its own in 2004 and limited to "extraordinarily costly" multilocation backup systems outside his company's economic reach. When Hurricane Rita came close to the company's Houston headquarters in late 2005, all he could do was make tape backups and ship them elsewhere -- and mount the case for planning a real disaster-recovery system.

Today, Etcheverry has deployed a SAN-based disaster-recovery system built on much less expensive FalconStor technology that allows for fail-over to the backup site in weather-stable Arizona. The SAN was in place in 2005, but an AS/400-to-x86 SAP transition quickly took Etcheverry's resources, delaying the disaster recovery implementation to last year, covering 12TB of production systems' data. The system sends snapshots hourly to the backup datacenter, which can also function as the master storage system for all offices. (Switching everything to the backup datacenter takes about four hours, no longer days.) Applications can be restored to operational status at the backup site in about two hours -- versus two weeks from tape backups. Etcheverry expects both data and application restoration times to decrease this year as he further refines the system.

When Hurricane Ike threatened Houston in September 2008, Etcheverry got proof that his disaster recovery strategy worked; he was able to shift operations from the Houston datacenter to Arizona as expected, then switch back once the hurricane passed and employees returned to the job.

[ Discover how the lessons learned from the 2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Award winners can help your IT efforts. ]