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LifeKeeper installed at Russian credit card processing centre

SteelEye Technology : 03 December, 2008  (Application Story)
Downtime minimisation achieved at credit card authorisation centre serving Russian banking community with LifeKeeper from Steeleye
Multicarta, a Russian credit card authorisation processor, has implemented SteelEye LifeKeeper for Linux to ensure that downtime of its transaction processing system is limited to less than fifteen minutes per year.

Multicarta authorises transactions by holders of cards issued by Visa International, MasterCard International, Diners Club International and American Express. Cardholders are customers of Russian banks and financial services companies. When a cardholder wishes to pay for goods or services with their card, the retailer sends an authorization request to the Multicarta authorization processing centre.

A database lookup ensues and the transaction is authorized or declined as the card holder's situation and credit terms dictate. These requests come in every second of every day of the year. If they can not be authorized, then they may fail unless another form of payment is possible. An authorization failure due to a technical fault can cause the loss of money by the retailer, disappointment and annoyance to the customer and a lessening of respect for the card issuer and bank.

The key IT elements at Multicarta's processing centre are the server and storage hardware and the database of credit card holders and their details. Two HP ProLiant DL580 G3 servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 4 and an IBM Informix database access an HP EVA 6000 shared storage array. If a server fails or the database crashes, then authorization stops. Server and database operations are protected by SteelEye LifeKeeper for Linux and the LifeKeeper Informix ARK respectively.

LifeKeeper monitors operation of the entire application stack including hardware and software. If the primary server fails, processing fails over automatically to the secondary server along with the database in such a way as to safeguard access to the information it contains. LifeKeeper preserves transaction authorization processing both in the event of an unexpected failure and in the situation of planned server downtime for software or hardware updates.

Mikhail Fedorov, IT Director at Multicarta, said: 'LifeKeeper made system and application updates considerably easier and reduced planned downtime to just a few minutes. Last year we had to update our Informix database. Before LifeKeeper it was a real headache but now we simply install the new version to the backup server and then make a quick and transparent failover - customers weren't aware of any changes to the system. And what we really appreciate is availability: It is now 99,997% which means 15 minutes max downtime per year'.

The integrated solution was deployed by Aflex Software, an authorized SteelEye partner in Russia. The system was configured by Aflex support and deployed by Multicarta's in-house IT officers to test and fine-tune the complete system. During and after the deployment, Aflex's engineers provided appropriate consulting, training and support needed to start the system on time and maintain its operation.

Vitaly Shpak, Chief Commercial Officer at Aflex Software, said: 'One cannot overrate the need for high availability of electronic commerce systems. IT infrastructures of processing centers are getting bigger and more complicated as the payload increases. By choosing LifeKeeper for its business continuity solution Multicarta is a proof-point for LifeKeeper and future customers in the Russian market.'

Aflex was supported by Nordicmind Ltd., SteelEye's Competence and Support Center for Northern EMEA and CIS.

Marko Lehtimaki, Director of Business Development, Nordicmind Ltd., said: 'We have seen a rapidly increasing interest in data protection and high availability especially in the financial sector here in Northern Europe and CIS. Ensuring the continuity of mission critical services is also governmentally regulated for financial institutions, and that's where SteelEye's comprehensive and robust solution family is seen as the perfect tool.'

Greg Ewald, VP Marketing, SteelEye Technology, said: 'With the turmoil in the global financial markets, companies like Multicarta see the true value in protecting their customer's transactional information while restoring confidence in financial institutions. With SteelEye LifeKeeper, Multicarta's customers can be assured their transactions will be quickly and accurately processed and fully protected as they move into another busy holiday shopping season.'

From now on those cardholders of the issuing banks that utilize Multicarta services are even safer when making purchases all over the globe any time of day and night. They may be absolutely unaware of LifeKeeper but are assured that their transactions will be authorized quickly and will never incur technical rejections.

'We are absolutely satisfied with LifeKeeper; it has significantly improved our system's overall availability and simplified IT procedures. In addition, Aflex Software's engineers have been very helpful during this process. They identified and acquired the best solution to meet our requirements, deployed it and provided all of the consulting and support necessary for this mission-critical software', concluded Mr. Fedorov.
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