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RECO Gains Peace of Mind with Cloud-Ready Storage

From the experts | Posted on November 25, 2013 by Lesley Morris

The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is a not-for-profit corporation responsible for administering the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 as well as associated regulations, on behalf of the Ontario provincial government. RECO was established in 1997 as a delegated administrative authority under the Safety and Consumer Statutes Administration Act, to enhance professionalism, increase consumer protection and provide an effective, efficient and responsive regulatory framework.

Increasing Storage Needs Drive Change

Mike Prime, Manager of Information Systems, having recently joined RECO, discovered that the organization was rapidly running out of storage space and that its existing storage technology was aging and approaching end of life.

As a regulatory body, RECO is responsible for storage and quick retrieval of a wide range of legal documents and multiple web services designed to meet the needs of its registrants and the public. It has an extensive repository housing consumer information, supports customer inquiry workflows and allows buyers and sellers to check the history and registration status of their real estate agents. In addition, the IT infrastructure serves as the foundation for web services during peak seasonal periods where the volume of transactions is high and mission critical to operations. Peak load periods are as a result of the renewal of real estate agents insurance and the registration process for continuing education courses for agents required by legislation.

As a new manager, Mr. Prime carefully reviewed storage issues with key IT staff and determined that it was rapidly becoming inadequate to manage existing requirements, based on growth as well as the needs for higher agility in the environment.

His team knew that increasing data growth was imminent as new services for real estate professionals were coming online shortly. In addition, it was discovered that disaster recovery technologies were out of date and when recovery was required, it was taking much too long.

With increasing pressures to provide “always on” reliable service and manage increasing data growth, Mr. Prime and his team had a dilemma on their hands. They could “band-aid” a solution, by renewing the existing storage technology and adding more servers or they could go in a new direction and recommend a completely new approach to achieve cloud-like agility in the environment.

A key decision factor was the concern that a “band-aid” solution might not be adequate should a disaster occur and could prove catastrophic if recovery took weeks instead of hours. Poor information recovery could result in damage to the organizations reputation and credibility and delays or problems accessing information or insurance renewals could impact real estate agents ability to conduct their businesses.

Softchoice Partnership

Working with Softchoice account manager Chris Gowans, Mr. Prime was introduced to the Softchoice architecture team who provided a consultative evaluation of the environment. They proposed a solution based on EMC VNX unified storage with Remote Protection Suite, an innovative virtual storage technology. Two arrays at separate sites with EMC’s “DVR-like” RecoverPoint software for array based replication addressed the recovery time objectives associated with the business needs and provided ease of expansion to scale as new services and load were required.

As an innovative manager, Mr, Prime’s long-term strategy was to build an infrastructure to be private cloud-ready to accommodate the organization’s needs as it grew. He realized his best option was to transition to the new EMC infrastructure to support the organization’s existing needs and position RECO for future growth and development.

Knowledge Transfer a Key Deliverable One of the main goals of the project was not only to implement two EMC VNX and RecoverPoint, but to ensure that Softchoice system consultants working on the project delivered knowledge transfer so that RECO’s technical resources could be self-sufficient after the engagement. Working intensively with RECO, the Softchoice team implemented a fully redundant SAN environment allowing complete failover to a Disaster Recovery site, if the primary location failed. Since implementing VNX unified storage, RECO has reduced operational costs, improved performance and enabled much improved business continuity resources associated with all mission critical web and core application services. A key highlight of the solution is its ability to meet new recovery objectives bringing the time line of recovery from days or potentially weeks to mere hours.

Business Benefits

“The VNX solution recommended by Softchoice allows me to sleep at night,” says Mr. Prime. “Knowing that our resources are continually up and available and able to manage data growth as well as having reliable disaster recovery is a huge relief.”

With a small IT team, Mr. Prime needed a “lean” approach to managing the storage infrastructure. The Softchoice recommendation to implement the EMC VNX solution ensures that RECO operates at the highest level of efficiency and reliability, and positions the organization for future private cloud readiness.

“Softchoice provided a “one-stop shop for us” says Mr. Prime. “We needed a quick solution and the partnership with Softchoice and EMC meant we could meet our very aggressive deadlines and implement a solution in record time. It has been an excellent collaboration resulting in very good results.”

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