The Linux High Availability Life Preserver for Business Continuity: SteelEye LifeKeeper

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SteelEye Technology provides Linux high availability solution to protect critical operations and business continuity for web retailer, I Want One of Those.

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 team's life easier.

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 Linux high availability business continuity solution based on SteelEye Technology's (steeleye.com) 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, Vadher 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 Linux 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 Vadher.

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 an MSA500 SAN Storage array, running Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise Server. For software protection, Vadher turned to Open Minds, a specialist disaster recovery and high-availability solutions supplier and SteelEye reseller to assist. According to Vadher, "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. Vadher 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 Vadher is delighted with the SteelEye LifeKeeper Linux high availability solution. "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 team's life easier."

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

About I Want One of Those
I Want One of Those Ltd is one of the UK's leading multi-channel retailers selling 'stuff you don't need... but you really, really want'. Having successfully expanded from on-line into catalogue inspired and business sales, the company has grown rapidly. Launched in January 2000 with just £10,000, the company has grown quickly with turnover last year over £12mn.

The Company is now part of the Findel Plc Group. For more information, visit iwantoneofthose.com.

About the Linux High Availability and Business Continuity Solutions Provider: SteelEye Technology

SteelEye, a subsidiary of SIOS Technology, Inc., (sios.com) is a leading provider of data and application availability management solutions for business continuity and disaster recovery.

The SteelEye LifeKeeper family of application-focused data replication, high availability clustering and disaster recovery solutions are easy to deploy and operate, and enable enterprises of all sizes to ensure continuous availability of business-critical applications, servers and data. SteelEye's products operate across any combination of physical and virtual servers. To learn more about SteelEye, visit steeleye.com or contact Bob Williamson at 843-532-0355. We are the High Availability Experts.

Trademark notice
SteelEye Technology, SteelEye and LifeKeeper are registered trademarks of SteelEye Technology, Inc. All 3rd party trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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