DBRS doubles up on data centre hosting strategy

Dominion Bond Rating Service, a Toronto-based global rating agency, said Wednesday it has turned to Fusepoint Managed Services to take over providing one of two live data centre sites to

support its corporate Web site.

Fusepoint will become part of a high-availability setup that spreads the operation of the site across data centres in downtown Toronto and neighbouring Mississauga, using load balancing software to allocate work to both sites and avoid a loss of service should one of the sites cease operating because of a disaster or other cause.

DBRS has relied on two mirrored data centres to run its Web site for some time, said Mike Burns, managing director of systems at the rating company. The other provider is Q9 Systems. DBRS recently chose to move one of its sites from another provider to Fusepoint, he explained.

Using two production sites gives a company more than the simple disaster-recovery capability that a traditional hot site – one that sits idle but ready to run until and unless the primary site goes down – would not, said Rob Lalonde, vice-president of sales and marketing at Fusepoint in Toronto. It allows for loads to be shared across both sites all the time, and means uninterrupted service if one site shuts down.

This approach is “the most sophisticated disaster recovery you can get to,” Lalonde maintained.

Burns said Dominion Bond Rating Service uses two separate service providers because “we’ve had occasions in the past where we’ve dealt with vendors who had bankruptcy issues or were failing, and we had to move our equipment rather rapidly out of their location and find another vendor.” This way, “it just means we’re not putting all our eggs in one basket.”

With two separate sites, DBRS gets faster service, and has the flexibility to take one of the sites down to make changes without interrupting service.

Outside service providers can provide the company with more than it would have the resources to provide through its own in-house operation, he said.

Burns liked the fact that while the Fusepoint site is somewhat removed from the Q9 one, it is still near enough DBRS’ Toronto offices that his staff can visit it easily. And, he added, DBRS liked the load-balancing software Fusepoint provides.

Burns said Q9’s downtown Toronto data centre and Fusepoint’s Mississauga data centre are on different power grids, so it is unlikely both would be affected by a typical power failure. The blackout that cut off power to a large swathe of eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. in the summer of 2003 would be a different matter, of course.

Lalonde said interest in business continuity has grown considerably in the past couple of years, a fact he attributed to events such as that blackout and the ice storm that hit parts of Quebec and eastern Ontario early in 1998, causing extensive power failures. Once those events raised awareness, it took some time for organizations to examine their business continuity needs and take action, he noted, so “I think we’re seeing more of a spike now.”

Concerns about tightened corporate compliance requirements, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, are also a factor, he added.

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Grant Buckler
Grant Buckler
Freelance journalist specializing in information technology, telecommunications, energy & clean tech. Theatre-lover & trainee hobby farmer.

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