Cisco MDS 9500 Series Multilayer Directors

Jack Henry Associates Improves Business Continuity

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Jack Henry & Associates used MDS 9500 Directors to migrate workload using PPRC.

Business Challenge

Founded in 1976, Jack Henry & Associates, Inc. (JHA) provides a wide variety of products and services for financial institutions, including processing ATM and debit card transactions, automating business processes, and managing mission-critical information. The company has more than 11,200 financial institution customers.
After acquiring the transaction processing workload from another company in Seattle, Washington, JHA needed to move the 3 TB database to its own data center in Houston, Texas. "Our goal was to accomplish the cutover safely and in the least amount of time to avoid inconveniencing customers of 300 financial institutions who would not be able to use their debit cards," says Larry Fitch, senior manager of data center operations for JHA.
After moving the workload to Houston, the IT team would need to integrate it into JHA's industry-leading business continuity architecture, which uses data replication to a disaster recovery facility in Allen, Texas, approximately 260 miles away. JHA has invested in the Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS) architecture, the highest standard for IBM System z customers with the most stringent availability requirements. One element of GDPS is IBM z/OS Global Mirror, also known as extended remote copy or XRC technology.

Solution and Results

JHA met both goals with a single capital investment, the Cisco ® MDS 9500 Series Director Switch and Cisco MDS 9000 XRC Acceleration Package. The acceleration package is a business-continuance solution for the IBM System z.
The company engaged PSR, Inc., an IBM business partner, for planning and implementation. In the first phase, PSR implemented Cisco MDS 9500 Director Switches in the Houston and Seattle data centers to accelerate PPRC of the 3 TB database. "After several months of preparation, the JHA IT teams were able to transition the workload from Seattle to Houston and restore connectivity to major credit card companies and regional networks in less than three hours," says Keith Kaszak, vice president of PSR.
Next, JHA began replicating the new workload from Houston to the Allen disaster recovery facility. The data travels over a pair of OC-3 lines using Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP), and XRC Acceleration operates atop FCIP. In the final phase, JHA will begin using the same Cisco MDS 9500 Director to replicate another workload between Houston and Allen, decommissioning an older channel extender previously used for this purpose. In all cases, the Cisco MDS switch connected to the OC-router through a single Gigabit Ethernet interface.
Text Box: "By moving the workload to Houston and using the Cisco MDS 9500 Director with XRC Acceleration, we improved RPO and RTO from hours to minutes."-Larry Fitch, Senior Manager for Data Center Operations, Jack Henry & Associates
The main benefits of the Cisco MDS 9000 Directors with the XRC Acceleration Package for JHA include:

Rapid workload migration: On the day of cutover, the IT team followed a simple script to move the 3 TB database in two hours and 40 minutes, minimizing service unavailability for customers. The alternative, transporting the files to Houston by private jet, would have taken eight hours or more.

Immediate return on investment: After acquiring the workload from the Seattle-based company, JHA had to pay a significant monthly charge until it moved the workload to its own data center. "The savings from moving out earlier completely offset the capital expenditure for the Cisco MDS director," Fitch says. Furthermore, replacing the older channel extender in the Allen data center with the Cisco MDS director lowered maintenance contract costs, eliminated the need for service fees for configuration changes, and reduced power and space requirements.

Business risk mitigation: "By moving the workload to Houston and using the Cisco MDS 9500 Director with XRC Acceleration, we improved the recovery point objective and recovery time objective from hours to minutes," says Fitch. Kaszak adds, "XRC Acceleration is one of the final architectural stepping stones to implementing GDPS and XRC, and the Cisco MDS enabled JHA to implement it cost-effectively."

Internal control of critical system: In Fitch's previous experience with workload migration, the vendor's technician had to configure the director and make any subsequent changes. "Our culture at JHA is to be self-sufficient," Fitch says. "Cisco came on site to show us how to install, configure, and support the system internally. Now we can make changes without waiting for the vendor and paying a fee."

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