Wolseley UK, which operates plumbing and building outlets including Plumb Centre, Build Centre and Bathstore, is investing in disaster recovery arrangements for critical business IT systems.
The company has signed a three-year contract with disaster recovery specialist NDR to provide back-up computer systems, and it has begun work on building redundancy into its own datacentres.
The work forms part of a wider review by the firm of its business continuity plans designed to ensure that the company's supply chain continues to function in the event of an emergency.
"It has basically given us the ability to recover our systems in the event of a major outage and added to our existing disaster recovery facilities," said Richard Rowe, technical infrastructure manager.
The contract, which costs the equivalent of Wolseley's gross margin for one day, will pay for itself after one business interruption, said Rowe.
The company is investing in back-up systems, supplied by Northgate, for 11 high-powered Sun servers running the firm's Unix-based branch management system.
The servers will operate in duplicate pairs across two adjacent datacentres. If one server fails, users will automatically be switched over to its twin.
NDR will provide back-up for other critical systems that Wolseley is not able to duplicate economically, including the company's PeopleSoft enterprise resource planning system, which runs on an HP Superdome server.
Wolseley plans to install a 100mbps communications link between the Superdome server and NDR's disaster recovery centre in Birmingham, to provide real-time back-up of data.
In the event of a disaster, Wolseley staff will transfer data back-up tapes from its major facilities at Ripon to the Birmingham centre, while NDR technicians will load the operating systems and applications onto servers.
The contract also includes an option to rebuild critical systems in a mobile datacentre, which could be quickly driven from the Birmingham back-up centre to Wolseley's head office in Leamington Spa.
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