As part of its ongoing efforts to improve the robustness and availability of the CBA’s core systems and services, the IT department embarked on a comprehensive, multi-year failover program.
As well as creating full system redundancy at CBA HQ in Baku, the IT department was responsible for replicating around 30 business-critical systems in real time at two remote sites to provide complete disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities.
For all key systems, CBA’s IT team followed a common process, covering user requirements, type of replication needed, number of operational staff required at remote site, length of time to complete replication of hardware, database, application software and interfaces, and testing scenarios. But they faced a particular problem in replicating WSS functionality at the remote sites. While version 7.4 supports real-time load-balancing at the application level, CBA had deployed an earlier version (7.3.8), which does not include this capability.
In short, this meant the IT team had to develop a workaround solution to ensure no loss of data or functionality during a switchover from use of modules at the central bank’s main site to the remote facilities so that all instances of the system remain fully synchronized. Not being experts in the system, the IT team needed third party verification that its solution would be effective and that any changes to the system implemented during the previous three years would be replicated accurately at the remote sites.
Due to our tight schedule, we needed a consultant who could get up to speed with the project very quickly, understanding our requirements, infrastructure and technology. SkySparc was able to supply the support we required.
Farid Osmanov, Chief Information Officer, Central Bank of Azerbaijan
The CBA started its selection process by researching feedback from central banks about consultants offering in WSS support services and found SkySparc to be the most highly rated.
The bank then conducted extensive faceto- face discussions with SkySparc on its requirements during the failover program and agreed a package of onsite and offsite support. SkySparc promptly placed a consultant onsite in Azerbaijan for two weeks to provide ‘hands-on’ support for the testing processes required before yearend, as well as a further three months of offsite support, in case of teething troubles following the testing phase.
“Due to our tight schedule, we needed a consultant who could get up to speed with the project very quickly, understanding our requirements, infrastructure and technology. SkySparc was able to supply the support we required,” says Farid Osmanov, the central bank’s Chief Information Office .
To migrate application software to new hardware in a remote facility – replicating existing functionality, configuration and integration – is an extremely complex task that can result in data losses with serious consequences if gaps arise between the primary and back-up systems. SkySparc’s consultant used his knowledge of WSS to ensure any previously implemented fixes were reflected at the remote site, by conducting a comprehensive audit of the initial installation that enabled him to quickly identify missing code or discrepancies that in-house staff may have taken longer to find.
The onsite support provided by SkySparc at the technical and user-acceptance testing stages were invaluable in identifying and addressing any problems in a timely manner that helped keep the project on schedule.
Emin Ismayilzada, Project Manager, Central Bank of Azerbaijan
The project to replicate CBA’s implementation of WSS at its remote facility was delivered on time, on budget and to requirements, thanks in no small part to a smooth testing stage. “SkySparc’s support was fast, dedicated and comprehensive,” says Emin Ismayilzada, Project Manager, CBA. “As well as the onsite support, it was always reassuring to be able call on a range of offsite resources. SkySparc integrated well with our team and we received very good feedback from users. As a result, we were able to meet our challenge of delivering the project before year-end.”
In addition, having successfully replicated its installation at the first remote site, CBA’s IT team now have practical proof of the soundness of their approach and have confidence in their ability to implement the solution at the second remote site, using their own internal resources. SkySparc also helped the bank to establish common processes to implement and document patches in a consistent manner.