Expert Advice

Bird & Bird keeps IT flying high with Neverfail

Bird & Bird is an international law firm, established in London in 1846, and it now has 21 offices across Europe and Asia. The business has an excellent reputation for its extensive knowledge of various industry sectors and legal practice, with some 850 lawyers globally.

IT business continuity is high on our priority list.

Jon Spencer, infrastructure manager at Bird & Bird,

Like most organisations of this size and stature, technology underpins most of what Bird & Bird does as a business. As the infrastructure manager, one of my responsibilities is to ensure our key applications are always up and running.

Similarly to other businesses, email is an integral part of our business. It keeps different locations in touch with one another and ensures that we can communicate with clients at all times. We addressed the growing demands of remote working in 2006 and invested in BlackBerry devices to provide our lawyers and other support staff with access to mobile email and other important business applications on the move. BlackBerry devices provide our organisation with more flexibility and continuous client contact, and their importance to employees has grown dramatically over the last few years, particularly because law firms rarely operate on eight-hour days.

Additionally, we have an internal document management system (DMS) that is essentially the lifeblood of the business, housing more than 6 terabytes (TB) of case matter-related documents and correspondence from our lawyers and clients.

Our lawyers bill clients by the hour; if, for whatever, reason they cannot access these crucial case documents, they will be unable to perform billable work, which would be damaging to our business both in terms of revenue and reputation.

Business continuity required
Fast-forward to 2008. After numerous discussions within our IT team, it became clear that the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) required an extra layer of protection, as mobile working was no longer a luxury for employees but a real business necessity.

We looked at various business continuity solutions to ensure the uptime of the BES and decided that software from Neverfail could protect BES from downtime and keep our employees connected on-the-move. The solution gives us two copies of BES; one on a server in our primary data centre and the other at our disaster recovery site. If the primary server fails, all of our BlackBerry users can continue to send and receive email using the secondary server with minimal disruption to service.

Organisations need to be aware that blanket business continuity solutions are not always necessary.

Jon Spencer, infrastructure manager at Bird & Bird,

With this successful implementation behind us, we also decided to protect our DMS against disaster, IT failure or other problems. Prior to this decision, we used clustering technology and enterprise storage to safeguard the DMS documents. Eventually, however, we required something that would go a step further and protect against SAN failure or disruption to the data centre as well. As a result, we then deployed Neverfail's ClusterProtector technology, which ensured the continuous availability of the DMS regardless of potential interruptions.

We are now satisfied that the BES and DMS will not be affected by any IT downtime moving forward. By averting any future outages, the software installed pays for itself by keeping lawyers connected and performing billable work.

At Bird & Bird, IT business continuity is high on our priority list, mainly because of the losses we would incur if we had nothing in place. Organisations need to be aware that blanket business continuity solutions are not always necessary, especially if the initial costs of these solutions are very high.

One way of approaching this is to take a more granular approach and prioritise the applications you cannot afford to incur any downtime on. Keeping these applications available will contribute to the daily success of your business as well as the reassurance of having a system in place designed to avert future problems.

Jon Spencer, is the infrastructure manager at Bird & Bird and a contributor to SearchVirtualDataCentre.co.uk.

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This was first published in September 2010

 

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