Case Study: First Trade Union Bank

First Trade Union Bank Adds Vault for LAN-Speed Restores and Robust Replication

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With assets at over $680 million, First Trade Union Bank is a well-capitalized, community bank offering a full complement of business and consumer products and services. First Trade has a long standing reputation for serving middle market, small business, unions and government entities as its core clients. First Trade, headquartered in Boston, has offices in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.

Its philosophy positions it to play a significant role in the business community by providing a comprehensive range of products and services with an emphasis on the highest level of personal service, whether in person, online or by phone. This practice has garnered First Trade the highest quality rating, Green from Veribanc Inc., a bank rating agency headquartered in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. These ratings are for the quarters ending June 30, 1997 through March 31, 2009.

Goals

Despite the economic downturn, First Trade is continuing to grow, and recently opened a new corporate headquarters in Boston to house all its non-branch personnel. When Rob Landstein joined the bank in late 2008 as Senior Vice President/Chief Information Officer, one of his major initiatives was to provide efficient systems for smooth data growth, including backup and recovery. It did not take long to determine that in the foreseeable future First Trade’s data protection needs would outgrow its current provision for them.

In addition to accommodating for the bank’s growth, Landstein and his team also knew they had to address their disaster recovery, privacy and security processes to comply with both regulatory requirements and First Trade’s stringent internal policies. Landstein wanted a solution that would:

  • Expand its data protection solutions to accommodate growth and provide for fully encrypted LAN-speed restores
  • Replicate primary backups to an offsite DR location and ensure protection of virtual environments
  • Scale seamlessly as the bank grew while meeting GLBA and other compliance regulations

Challenges

First Trade was an established user of EVault Software from EVault, A Seagate Company. The bank employed it to securely protect a dozen Windows servers, and Microsoft Exchange and SQL databases. So it already knew the advantages of EVault’s disk-based backup and recovery over the tape-based system it had used earlier. Over time, data growth—including an exponential amount of customer information—became a factor. “We weren’t at the point where the backup window was a network performance issue, but we projected that it wouldn’t be long before it became one,” says Landstein. First Trade also dealt with the fact that restoring large amounts of data, when needed, was too slow over its WAN connection.

In addition to the need to protect more data and minimize the impact of backup on the network, the bank’s organic growth was a looming issue. “We planned to bring more applications online, including new general ledger and document management applications, and we could see it would be too much to back up across our wide area network,” says Landstein.

First Trade had an aggressive schedule for deploying its new applications. A central challenge would be to implement and test (in the spring of 2009) additional backup capacity to protect them before they launched. Timing was tight: “The general ledger application was scheduled as a July 1 event, and document management possibly by the end of June,” says Landstein. Another challenge in parallel with the application deployment was First Trade planned to bring online a VMware environment to consolidate servers. It wouldn’t necessarily add new data, but the bank needed a secure, streamlined way to protect its virtualized information and applications.

Solutions

First Trade was confident that EVault could help it structure the additional capacity and capability it needed, and sought its input. EVault and First Trade worked together to devise an expanded configuration that would put a new, primary backup vault at the bank’s headquarters. “With the new scheme we’re doing our primary backup here, to a local vault, at much faster speeds across the LAN. With that in place, we can take the time to replicate the data offsite to our DR vault.”

Since EVault was already familiar with First Trade’s network configuration, planning for the required new hardware and software was straightforward. Calculations were done to ensure sufficient capacity for the foreseeable future, and because EVault’s solutions scale readily to accommodate multiple terabytes of data, the bank has a “future-proof” system. The expanded configuration included the new primary vault, EVault’s VMware plug-in and Replication software, which provides secure, bandwidth-optimized replication to the bank’s off-site DR site. The total implementation took three days, including a planning meeting, a day of onsite installation, and training.

Results

First Trade Union Bank is now ideally configured to quickly handle backups and restores of any size, with very low network impact and continued regulatory compliance. This is true for both its physical and virtual environments. A robust replication scheme provides the peace of mind that First Trade can recover readily should a disaster strike. Performance of large restores is probably the most visible improvement. Rob Landstein offers this comparison of the old and new configurations: “We had a file-and-print server that went down, and we took data off it while it was being repaired. With the amount of data it had, it took most of a day to restore from our DR site in Rhode Island. Performing the same restore now would probably take 30 minutes or less.”

Landstein is impressed with the high level of professionalism his team enjoyed in the entire expansion process. “EVault has been great. You don’t have to pay anything until the system is up and working. That gives me a lot of confidence. That goes with the peace of mind we already have—every time we’ve needed to bring data back, it’s worked.” Customer service has been a confidence builder as well, says Landstein. “I’m not the one who deals directly with customer support, but my staff is very happy with the product and thinks it’s easy to use. They tell me they always get great support— they can call and get help without having to wait.”