Compliance a Key Challenge
Vision Super is an Industry Superannuation Fund, run only to profit members. With over 100,000 members and $4 billion in assets, Vision Super’s trustees have a responsibility to protect the information required for the business to operate.
A key challenge for the trustees of Vision Super is to comply with the standards and guidelines set by the Australian Prudential and Regulatory Authority (APRA), the governing body for Superannuation Funds. APRA ensures that Superannuation funds meet standards for business continuity and comply with guidelines for IT security, information protection and recovery.
Recovery and Testing, Key to Compliance
Whilst Vision Super had invested in infrastructure and processes for the backup of data, the recovery of data was a largely unknown factor and was difficult to quantify. As explained by Richard Crow, Manager Information Technology at Vision Super:
“Our IT team is responsible for providing both Backup and Recovery for our business. Organisations only do backup for the purpose of one day having to recover the data, so a sound recovery process is crucial.”
Regular testing of the business continuity plan is a key part of compliance with APRA guidelines. Testing is required to be carried out at least annually with the outcomes reported to the board. Vision Super have previously found disaster recovery testing to be time-consuming to plan and run and difficult to schedule outside of core IT activities. They have also found that trying to maintain procedures around Disaster Recovery testing is a complex and time-consuming job.
Business Outcomes for Backup and DR
The key business outcome required by Vision Super for Backup and Recovery was to meet regulatory obligations to protect and recover data. Vision Super required a comprehensive Business Continuity plan for all business activities to ensure that the business can recover the data that is needed to operate. As Richard explains:
“IT need to do what is necessary to meet regulatory requirements and be able to recover in the timeframe required by the business. We need to respond to the Business Impact Analysis outcomes that the business is up and running within the specified timeframe.”
An important business outcome required by Vision Super is the retention of its superannuation membership base. IT plays an important role in this process, providing information to the business units that are carrying out retention activities and campaigns. Vision Super recognised that by outsourcing backup and recovery, it would free up IT resources to support this strategic activity which is critical to the fund in retaining its members.
Data Growth Impacting Operations
In addition to regulatory requirements and strategic initiatives, the rapid growth of business information was also driving Vision Super to outsource backup and recovery. Vision Super had reached the limit for what their current infrastructure could cope with for backup and recovery and needed to invest more in hardware to support the data volumes.
Resource efficiency was a further consideration for Vision Super to outsource disaster recovery. They recognised that in the event of a disaster, the entire IT team would be required to work around the clock for approximately 5 days to be able to recover the IT environment. This was considered to be too risky, as people might not be available in a disaster and it wasn’t appropriate to have people working under that level of duress.
Outsource to Deliver Key Benefits
Vision Super selected Global Storage to deliver a fully managed Cloud Service for Disaster Recovery as it seemed to be simpler, easy to understand, easy to implement and easy to use.
“The Global Storage solution seemed to be the cleanest and simplest from a set up and ongoing maintenance point of view. Other solutions are more fragmented with different reporting tools for different system. If a disaster occurs, we want one central place to go to.” says Richard.
Vision Super looked at other outsourced concepts for disaster recovery but selected Global Storage on the basis that they had done more thinking on the importance of getting a business back up and running following a disaster and include it as a standard part of its services. Richard says:
“We had confidence that Global Storage truly understood the end to end process of Disaster Recovery including testing, and the invocation process including both failover and failback. No one else seemed to understand what is involved in failback and the importance of having this included in a Disaster Recovery Solution.”
Resource & Cost Efficiency in Outsourcing Disaster Recovery
Vision Super recognised that in the event of a disaster it would be far more efficient and expeditious to have a specialised outsourced provider responsible for bringing their environment back online. This enables IT resources to be utilised as the liaison point between the business trying to get back up to speed and the Disaster Recovery service provider. As Richard explains:
“IT knows what its customers need and it is far better to have IT focused on coordinating the process of getting the business up and running and being a liaison point for the business rather than doing the raw recovery. IT creates greater value by doing this role and leaving the recovery to an outsourced specialised team.”
Cost efficiency was also identified as a major contributing factor for outsourcing disaster recovery. Richard says,
“Global Storage not only offered a better technology solution but was more cost effective and affordable than the other options we explored.”
Compliance Obligations met with Managed Disaster Recovery
The Global Storage solution has enabled Vision Super trustees to meet their responsibilities with respect to APRA’s requirements for Business Continuity. With guaranteed SLAs for the recovery of data and a timeframe of less than 24 hours for recovery, the business has been able to quantify and guarantee recovery.
Disaster Recovery testing fully managed and documented
As part of this compliance, Vision super is now able to satisfy APRA’s requirements for disaster recovery testing. Whilst APRA requires annual testing, Vision Super now has the capability to conduct full testing every 6 months which is thoroughly documented. EnvironmentReady Disaster Recovery Cloud Service has made the testing process simple and efficient. The testing process is managed by Global Storage which ensures testing is completed without having to put on more resources or divert attention from core IT activities. Full results of the completed testing can now be reported back to the board to give Trustees and Auditors the peace of mind that compliance obligations have been met.
Outsourced Disaster Recovery provides scalability for Business Growth
At the time Vision Super was looking at a disaster recovery solution, they were looking to grow the business through a merger. This would mean that they could get bigger quite rapidly and they needed a solution that could provide the scalability to deal with this. The scalability of the Global Storage disaster recovery solution aligned well with the business strategy to expand through merger and now gives them the agility required to do this whenever necessary.