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SteelEye LifeKeeper: The E-Business Life Preserver
SteelEye Technology protects critical business operations on Linux for web retailer, I Want One of Those.

Stuff you don't need ... but you really, really want is the theme of I Want One of Those, a web-based gift retailer headquartered in the UK. Ensuring that web shoppers can find and buy things they want around-the-clock is a top IWOOT priority and recently led to the implementation of a new business continuity solution based on SteelEye Technologys LifeKeeper Protection Suite for Linux.

IWOOT, as it is colloquially known, has an enormous selection of constantly updated gifts with sales in 2006 surpassing $20 Million. There is a substantial IT component to its business. Sagar Vadher Head of IT at IWOOT, explains that he uses industry standard X86 servers running a mix of Windows and Linux with PC workstations for development, management and monitoring.

As expected, the busiest time of the year is the Christmas period which puts an increasing strain on the core Postgres database system handling online transactions and its continued availability is of great concern.

In the Christmas 2006 trading season, Sagar commented, "the systems were really straining when sales ran up the wall. It was pretty hair-raising. We had people working all hours just to make sure that the systems worked. We don't want to do Christmas like that anymore."

IWOOT decided to redesign its infrastructure for business continuity and choose to migrate to a new ERP system running on two servers in a high-availability configuration. For the ERP software, they moved away from a proprietary system based on Uniface to a Java/open source solution, selecting the web-based OfBiz from the Apache Foundation. The application was customized to fit the needs of the business and rechristened jWOOT3. Why did they choose to go an open source route? "We're looking to reduce costs by moving to open source and avoiding ongoing license fees," stated Sagar.

A jWOOT3 server outage could cost over $10,000 per hour of lost revenue as well as affecting customers' perception of the IWOOT brand. Business continuity is a must. For server hardware, Vadher and his team decided to use a high-availability dual HP DL380 server cluster with a MSA500 SAN Storage array, running Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise Server. For software protection, Sagar turned to Open Minds, a specialist disaster recovery and high-availability solutions supplier and SteelEye reseller to assist. "We spoke to Open Minds and they recommended LifeKeeper from SteelEye Technology. It manages the system and, if the active node crashes, automatically fails over to the second node."

SteelEye Technology's LifeKeeper software constantly monitors the health of critical applications, including the database and servers. On detection of any problem, a recovery process is automatically launched. Typically, this involves restarting the application on another server within the cluster. Because all data associated with the jWOOT3 application resides on shared storage, it is immediately available to the newly active server. LifeKeeper also takes care of switching over all IP addresses, so that current connections are seamlessly moved to the new server

The LifeKeeper business continuity software has increased IT department productivity in general as well as safeguarding ERP server availability. Sagar explains that they operate in three modes: the production environment; a test environment and a QA mode: "We are continually developing the system. Now we can make a deployment to a live system during business hours if needed. We would have to have done this out of hours before. Now we don't have to worry so much. From October onwards we will have to stop development but we now have the means to deploy to the inactive node and test out system changes. It certainly helps us in the testing process."

Sagar is delighted with SteelEye LifeKeeper: "LifeKeeper has made life so much easier. Developing with Linux is hard at the best of times. LifeKeeper made it better. It's just absolutely brilliant and makes my teams life easier."

Unlike the gifts highlighted on the IWOOT web site, LifeKeeper is both stuff you need ... and really, really want!

Published Monday, October 15, 2007 11:08 PM by David Marshall
business » SteelEye LifeKeeper: The E-Business Life Preserver - (Author's Link) - October 18, 2007 2:31 AM
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