The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies Moves to Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery, Gaining Better Performance at Lower Cost

  • Disaster Recovery

Overview

The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies has a long-standing reputation of providing commercial real estate customers with innovation and excellence. That is why as soon as they determined that their disaster recovery (DR) strategy was inhibiting business enablement, they began seeking alternatives. Together with Hexaware Technologies, they deployed CloudEndure Disaster Recovery into AWS to meet their business and IT requirements at a fraction of the cost of their previous DR solution.

Company

The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, LLC. (Inland) is one of America’s largest commercial real estate and finance groups, with 50 years of expertise and integrity in the industry. Inland owns and manages hundreds of millions of square feet of commercial and residential property in 49 states. They are also a business incubator specializing in creating, developing, and supporting member companies that provide commercial real estate-related services and alternative investment funds.

Hexaware Technologies (Hexaware) is Inland’s managed service provider (MSP). Hexaware is the fastest-growing automation-led provider of IT, BPO, and consulting services. Hexaware’s vision is to automate and “cloudify” everything while transforming customer experience. With 33 global offices, Hexaware achieves annual revenues of over $600 million.

The Challenge

Prior to working with Hexaware, Inland had a large DR footprint, investing considerable technical and financial resources to attain business continuity. This limited their ability to invest in cutting-edge real estate technologies and to meet other business demands. Inland therefore decided to reevaluate their existing offline, cold standby DR strategy. Their costly solution was built on on-premises infrastructure in a colocation facility, and it had unreliable application and network performance due to the undersized equipment being used to save on DR expenses.

Rajesh Nair, Senior Systems Manager at Hexaware, summarized Inland’s main DR requirements: “One of the business objectives Inland provided was to improve value while reducing costs – doing more with less.” He added that “an additional business objective was to raise the bar significantly in meeting more challenging RPO and RTO targets… Live data would need to be available within minutes.” This was a significant departure from the strategy Inland had in place at the time, in which their Recovery Point Objective (RPO) was 24 hours, and their Recovery Time Objective (RTO) was five full working days.

Inland also designated effective testing as a DR requirement. Due to the difficulties their legacy storage and backup applications had with data replication and synchronization, they experienced a 20% failure rate when testing business failover availability. Moreover, testing could only be performed at the target site on non-production data running on an isolated network.

The Solution

The first step in Hexaware’s development of a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solution for Inland was to assess Inland’s IT landscape and create an application dependency matrix of their ecosystem. As Hexaware architected Inland’s hyperconverged (HCI) private cloud, they started evaluating DR solution providers that would help Inland achieve a significantly higher return on investment (ROI). The DR solution would also need to meet Inland’s requirement for high system availability and resilience, with vastly improved recovery objectives. As Nair explained: “We evaluated vendors that not only said they were able to meet Inland’s aggressive RPOs and RTOs, but backed it with their commitment. CloudEndure easily rose to the top of the list of solutions.”

The POC with CloudEndure was initially run on an isolated network in AWS, to ensure that all business and technical requirements would be met. This process also allowed validation of the anticipated cost savings of using a cloud-based DR strategy. After conducting POCs with various other DR vendors, Hexaware determined that CloudEndure Disaster Recovery was the most suitable to power their DRasS solution for Inland. “The CloudEndure team was very responsive and knowledgeable in providing the needed guidance and support to the Hexaware team during pre-test, full implementation, and disaster recovery testing. We are very grateful for CloudEndure’s commitment to quality,” shared Nair.

Results

Klint Price, VP of Information Technology and CISO at Inland, described the significant results of their new DR solution: “Hexaware’s DRaaS platform, which comprises CloudEndure and AWS, has allowed us to restore service in minutes, not days.” Inland is also no longer concerned about data loss in the event of a ransomware attack or a natural disaster, due to the sub-second RPOs and point-in-time recovery offered in the new solution.

During the implementation stage, Klint led testing of various disaster scenarios, from a localized disaster at Inland’s headquarters to a regional Chicagoland outage that could prevent end-users from leaving their homes. He explained that “The entire failover, validation, user testing, failback, and post-test validation occurred in less than five hours, with the vast majority of the time set aside for user testing.”

As a result, the unacceptably high failure rate that Inland experienced for DR business test cases is a thing of the past. Klint explained that with the new solution, “all business test cases have passed two years in a row.” Unlimited testing can now be performed on live production data without impeding performance or business operations. In addition, testing from various locations validated that complete workload recovery will be successful without requiring IT team members’ physical presence at the recovery site.

Recommendation

When it comes to overall satisfaction with the solution, Klint stated: “Reducing costs, reducing on-premises infrastructure, consolidating the sites, retiring aging technologies – all those boxes were checked with our experience.” Nair added that, “AWS, combined with CloudEndure, not only met our business objectives, but also exceeded our expectations.”

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