Time and technology march forward hand-in-hand, which in most every aspect of daily business and personal life simplifies both common and complex processes and chores. In the home, technology breeds convenience, resulting in time and personal energy savings. Financial institutions are early adapters of technology with goals of increased employee efficiency, lowered costs and improved customer satisfaction. The prudent and effective application of synchronization and backup technology and processes within financial institutions is the crucial element to protecting and leveraging data.
Data backup systems and strategies are as ubiquitous as desktop telephones and personal computers. Tape has long been the traditional medium onto which IT personnel copy financial and other data at the end of the business day. Tape backup works, but adds a time-consuming and inefficient step to file recovery because tapes must first be located, then shipped and reloaded.
Perpetual technological improvements are fast transforming this tried-and-true data backup and retrieval process into an anachronism, one that hinders a bank's internal operations while placing it at a competitive disadvantage. To solve today's challenges, bank CIOs and CTOs must implement data synchronization solutions that can capture and deliver all types of data, while helping to form the basis of their disaster recovery plans.
Customers' demand for immediate data access combines with multi-location regional banks requiring simplified and uniform access to remote, up-to-date branch files. This combination makes it clear data synchronization is a critical component to managing and protecting data, financial institutions' most important asset.
Data synchronization on a global scale is one of the most-effective solutions to address data issues for the modern bank's e-workforce. Synchronization must rapidly back up applications and data, quickly get data backup online after a disruption, and be easily managed in-house or by an outside vendor. Within financial institutions, data synchronization enables enterprise-wide application integration, including up-to-date reports and business activity monitoring.
Data synchronization applications provide a streamlined vehicle to backup and synchronize employees' vital files automatically among servers, external drives, desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices. File synchronization is the process whereby employees have access to the same updated files across multiple storage locations, such as multi-state bank branch locations. If any user alters a file at a given location, the synchronization process will change data at all other locations.
In the event of a natural disaster or an act of terrorism, financial institutions' CTOs and other executives demand highly manageable and cost-effective disaster recovery plans for data. Physical tapes sitting in a warehouse don't cut it in today's e-business environment.
File backup is especially important in financial institutions where the loss of images, spreadsheets, MP3s and email correspondence can severely impact operations. Backup and synchronization programs can backup files to any location, external device, over the Internet or to a remote server.
There are three primary synchronization implementation strategies, each of which can be tailored to a bank's specific requirements:
In a multiple workstation, server and location environment, known as the star topology, a central switch, hub or computer serves as a conduit for the transmission of messages across the network. Software on each user workstation backs up data several times daily to a central server. For added protection, banks often (and should) maintain multiple backup copies of user data in disparate geographic locations. In a multiple branch environment, all workstations should be synchronized both to a local file server, which, in turn synchronizes to other local servers across the enterprise.
Data synchronization in a "multiple workstations in a single office environment" presents a less-daunting challenge, as it merely requires regular data backup to the local file server. For added protection, banks can purchase additional disk space or rent a server from an IT service provider, periodically synchronizing the local server with the third-party server through a secure connection.
In environments where remote users log into a network server using Citrix or another remote desktop connection, data synchronization and backup software should be configured to synchronize all user data on the remote access servers, with copies on a backup server.
It's imperative for banks and financial institutions of all sizes to have a reliable data synchronization and backup plan that is increasingly more affordable. Data synchronization enables banks to quickly and cost-effectively develop and implement a full-featured solution that ensures the safety and accessibility of even the most critical data, and is a great first step towards a full disaster recovery plan.
Bill Carey is the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Siber Systems Inc. (Fairfax, Va.).