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Isracard Group Devises Way to Verify its System Integrity Before Disaster Occurs

Mike Shorkend manager of central infrastructures, Isracard - Photo by David Vaaknin


Customer: Isracard Group
Headquarters: Tel Aviv, Israel
Business: Financial Services
Challenge: Ensuring its backup disaster recovery boxes would IPL if needed
Solution: Crafted a clever solution that takes daily snapshots of backups to ensure they’re not corrupted
Hardware: An IBM zEnterprise BC12, IBM zEnteprise 196 and two IBM System Storage DS8870s
Software: IBM DB2 for z/OS, IBM z/VM and BMC Software’s Control-M and Control-O

Most mainframe users conduct disaster recovery (DR) backups of some sort. Many do so within a machine-to-machine framework with, for example, a production system being supported by a mirrored off-site box—or a dedicated LPAR on a remote box.

That’s fine if everything is running well on the production system, but if something is amiss, such as a logical error, it will roll over to the backup system. When that system is needed in the event of an emergency, it may not function as intended and that replicated error will muck up the works if it’s not discovered in time.

Isracard’s Reach The largest issuer of credit cards in Israel, Isracard has about 2 million cardholders and 3.8 million active cards representing 49% of the market

This happened several years ago to a bank in Israel. When it rolled over to its backup box, a logical error that had been replicated to the DR site caused a glitch that kept both the primary and the backup boxes out of service for a number of nail-biting hours.

This cautionary tale wasn’t lost on Isracard Group. In fact, Isracard’s management urged the company’s IT team to develop a backup-verification system that would help it avoid a similar DR failure. Now, in addition to conducting common synchronous replication, Isracard also uses the space efficient FlashCopy* technology (FlashCopy SE), an IBM System Storage* DS8000* function, to copy its production data every business day and conduct an IPL against it. If that copy loads as expected and no corrupted files are found, Isracard can be assured that if an IPL is required at the primary site, it will succeed and its synchronous copy is sound. If an issue does arise in the verification process, it’s then quickly found and rectified in the live DR environment.

As a result of this clever backup-confirmation workaround, Mike Shorkend, Isracard’s manager of central infrastructures, was dubbed by some of his peers at a recent SHARE conference as “The Guy Who Does a DR Test Every Day.” “It’s a fun label,” he says, “but that’s in fact what we do—run a DR test every day.”

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at

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