The business challenges
First Commonwealth was founded as a community bank nearly 40 years ago.
Today the bank is big enough to deliver all of the services of a large bank,
yet small enough to allow for one-on-one, know-you-by-name relationships
The customer experience is critical for First Commonwealth. It’s critical for
all banks. According to analysis conducted by Kantar, banks that lead the
way in customer experience have a recommendation rate that is 1.9 times
higher than banks at the lower end of the index. Additionally, their share
of deposits is 1.9 times higher and their customers are 2.1 times more willing
to adopt new products and services. Therefore, banks can grow their share
of deposits up to 16.5% by improving customer experience.
For First Commonwealth, nearly all data related to customer experience is part
of a data warehouse system. It feeds other business-critical systems including
Synapsis (for customer relationship management) and the call center system.
The bank’s IT team makes sure every system can be recovered quickly
in a disaster situation to maintain business continuity. The team’s challenge
was replicating the data warehouse for disaster recovery (DR).
“We were using Arcserve to replicate, but it was inefficient,” said Eric
Kubla, IT Server Manager at First Commonwealth Financial Corporation.
“If replication was interrupted for any reason, Arcserve wouldn’t pick
up where it left off. Instead, it would replicate from the beginning, which
meant replication didn’t complete overnight and continued into the next
morning when our branches were opening. Employees experienced delays
when they accessed business-critical systems, and those delays could impact
their ability to serve customers. If customers visited our branches or phoned
our call center to ask questions about their accounts, employees sometimes
couldn’t provide answers quickly.”
Inefficient replication wasn’t the only challenge. DR testing was another.
Kubla said failover and failback were somewhat complex and timeconsuming,
which was frustrating during onsite compliance audits. First
Commonwealth complies with several regulations including Dodd-Frank, the
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and the Sarbanes-
Oxley Act (SOX).
“Replication should be a gateway to DR, but it was an obstacle for us,” Kubla said.
The Veeam solution
First Commonwealth replaced Arcserve with Veeam® Availability Suite™.
Veeam provides efficient, reliable replication and a robust DR solution.
Veeam simplifies and expedites DR testing with 1-click failover and rapid
recovery, and it supports compliance with Dodd-Frank, PCI-DSS and SOX.
“Veeam does what Arcserve failed to do,” Kubla said. “Veeam provides
a DR solution that helps us maintain business continuity so we can continue
Veeam replicates 40 TB across 200 virtual machines (VM) off-premises
to Pure Storage. If a VM supporting a business-critical system fails, the
IT team can immediately fail over to a standby replica and recover quickly
to avoid downtime.
“One of the things we like best about Veeam is knowing we can recover fast
anytime—not only in a DR situation,” Kubla said. “When there was a problem
with an FTP server in our production environment, we used Veeam
to recover from a replica rather than use our backup solution to recover
from a backup. Veeam is faster, and speed matters in banking. That FTP
server enables file transfer with customers for whom we provide automated
payroll services. Knowing we can recover it fast means their payroll
won’t be interrupted.”
Kubla used Veeam Instant VM Recovery® to recover the FTP server. He uses
Veeam Explorers™ for Microsoft Active Directory and SQL Server to recover
individual items and tables in other critical systems. He said granular
recovery during DR testing was slow and complicated before Veeam.
“Simplifying and expediting DR testing is another big benefit with Veeam.
“I recently did a DR test for our accounts payable department, and they
assumed failover and failback would take at least 30 minutes, but the entire
process took less than three minutes with Veeam. Upper management
is always impressed when they hear how fast and easy DR testing is, and
that’s good for the IT team.”
Veeam also provides advanced monitoring, alerting and reporting so the
team can proactively resolve issues affecting replicas before they become
problems that impact the business.
“It’s so great to be able to address high CPU and memory usage or low disk
space before the damage is done,” Kubla said. “This is one more way Veeam
helps us avoid downtime and protect critical data.”
The banking industry is heavily regulated to protect data. Dodd-Frank
and PCI-DSS require that transaction records be preserved for a sufficient
period of time so audits can be performed. SOX demands that data storage,
access and retrieval are strictly controlled and that transaction records
“Every year we go through internal IT audits to prove replication works,”
Kubla said. “We show the audit team Veeam emails and reports that confirm
replication completed successfully, and if we’re asked to demonstrate
recovery, that’s always fast and easy too.”
- Provides efficient, reliable replication and a robust DR solution
“Veeam offers a proven DR solution for business continuity, and it’s so easy
to use,” Kubla said. “We know our critical systems are replicated
successfully, and we know we can recover them in minutes.”
- Simplifies and expedites DR testing with 1-click failover and rapid
Veeam’s 1-click failover and assisted failback are simple to use and
efficient. If a VM fails, the IT team can immediately fail over to a standby
replica and recover from it fast to avoid downtime.
- Supports regulatory compliance with Dodd-Frank, PCI-DSS and SOX
“Banks operate in a highly regulated industry, but Veeam helps make
compliance easy,” Kubla said. “It’s an excellent solution.”