Ahmad M Almulla, Vice President: I.T
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A comprehensive exercise conducted on Friday 15 March 2013 by Dubai Aluminium, DUBAL, the entirely state-owned corporation that operates the world’s largest single-site primary aluminium smelter using pre-baked anode technology, has confirmed its readiness to recover and protect its information systems infrastructure in the event of a disaster. So says Ahmad M Almulla (Vice President: I.T.), who advises that DUBAL’s dependency on I.T. to run its operations underscores the importance of a well-developed disaster recovery plan embracing the recovery of I.T. data, assets and facilities.
With this in mind, the scope of the disaster recovery exercise included the design and implementation of an offsite Disaster Recovery Solution for DUBAL’s SAP Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP, applications, e-mail services and back-up repository of all other services/applications, with due consideration for future scalability to host additional systems/services with a managed services contract to manage the hosted Disaster Recovery Solution in the UAE. According to Almulla, the elements of the disaster recovery plan include:
Availability of DUBAL’s e-mail system to its employees, as this is one of the major channels of communication [access to all e-mail users].
Availability of DUBAL’s Business Information systems for business continuity purposes such as:
Human Resources Management Systems.
Sales & Distribution Systems.
Logistics Management Systems.
Engineering and Plant Maintenance Systems.
Finance Management Systems.
Comprehensive back-up of all commercial and manufacturing data and all other applications.
Almulla advises that the disaster recovery exercise was preceded by extensive planning. “At the highest level, this included identifying an off-site Datacenter service provider that could host and manage DUBAL’s Disaster Recovery Solution; ensuring that foundational services would be in place for DUBAL’s e-mail solutions and SAP ERP applications; and relocating back-up repository hardware and software components to a site remote from DUBAL. Strategic thought also went into the solution design, hosting, implementation, testing, go-live and managing the off-site Disaster Recovery Solution,” he says.
Naturally, implementing DUBAL’s off-site Disaster Recovery Solution also required extensive detailed planning and preliminary preparations. These included purchasing the hardware, software and services required to establish the off-site Disaster Recovery Solution; designing, installing, configuring, testing, reconciling and releasing replication services for the complete disaster recovery stack (that is operating system, database, application server, applications, and front-end services) including reverse replication, synchronization and switch back; establishing back-up replication services by configuring the required communication and moving existing components with a high volume of storage space; and configuring a sufficient number of users’ access to SAP applications via a secured Virtual Private Network.
“The off-site disaster recovery exercise was very successful,” says Almulla. “DUBAL’s I.T. department along with representatives from DUBAL’s Business Units participated in the exercise. This allowed DUBAL to test all aspects of its off-site Disaster Recovery Solution. Overall, DUBAL’s ability to respond to future events was strengthened by the exercise, effectively enhancing our business continuity and reducing the enterprise risk.”