Alaskan Credit Union Mirrors 10x More Data in Half the Time

denali-map-dell-compellentWhen more than 18 feet of snow can bury a whole town, a strong disaster recovery (DR) and business strategy is a must. Especially if you are a financial institution like Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union (Denali) that is looking to expand its online banking services.

However, Denali’s wide area network (WAN) was insufficient for moving large amounts of data between the company’s main site in Anchorage and the DR facility in Fairbanks. It was taking over 11 hours to replicate more than 50 gigabytes (GB) of data over the WAN–far too long for Denali’s IT team. Adding additional DR features with up to 1o times the data of the existing system would be impossible.

Denali’s IT team addressed part of the problem by storing the online banking system on Dell Compellent arrays, but they still needed a solution to overcome the WAN bottleneck. Dell recommended Silver Peak, Dell’s preferred partner for WAN optimization. The Silver Peak software deployed in minutes and automatically compensated for network limitations, accelerating the movement of large amounts of data over long distances. The IT staff saw Dell Compellent replication bandwidth reduced by over 66 percent, with a 10-fold increase in replication throughput.

According to Travis Rupp, associate vice president of project management in IT for Denali, “Silver Peak’s software is really simple to set up. We met our recovery point objectives (RPO) without doing any special tweaks to the network or data sets, which really makes Silver Peak stand out from the competition.”

Denali’s primary challenge involved replicating the company’s core banking application. With over 50 GB of data, it was consuming most of the company’s three megabit-per-second (Mbps) WAN and taking over 11 hours— three hours too long for Rupp and his team. There was no way they could also replicate several hundred gigabytes of data for the online banking system and still meet an eight-hour RPO.

For Denali, buying additional bandwidth was not a viable option. Bandwidth pricing in Anchorage is high in part because of the limited competition, says Rupp, who was already spending $350 a month on a 3Mbps connection. In fact, Anchorage has the highest bandwidth prices of any US city at $65.50 per Mbps, according to

Despite the efficiencies of Dell’s replication solution, Denali Alaskan was still missing its RPO due to network conditions. Rupp and team knew they needed an affordable, easily deployable solution to solve these network challenges, and thus shorten replication times. With Dell’s recommendation, Rupp and team chose to test Silver Peak, Dell’s preferred partner for WAN optimization.

“Ease of deployment really made Silver Peak stand out from Riverbed and the competition,” adds Rupp. “For Silver Peak’s software to be up and running the day after we spoke with [the Silver Peak team], with quantitative data to prove the solution worked, was one of the biggest selling points.”