When Hurricane Maria struck, it revealed a need for Puerto Rico’s Department of the Treasury to minimize the impact of disasters on citizens and government finances and maximize availability of services.
The Treasury deployed a continuous availability solution based on IBM z14™ technology with help from IBM Business Partners Truenorth and PSR, ensuring it maximizes uptime and can resume operations quickly if disaster strikes.
100%of the Treasury’s applications and data is now protected in the event of a planned or unplanned outage
Raisescitizen satisfaction by enabling greater service continuity
Protectsgovernment revenues by minimizing disruption to tax collection processes and guarantees reliable operation of payroll for government employees
Business challenge story
Bouncing back from catastrophe
In 2017, Puerto Rico was devastated by two hurricanes, Irma and Maria, bringing the island’s economy to its knees. With a five-month hurricane season each year, the region must be prepared for more storms to come its way.
The Department of the Treasury of Puerto Rico, which manages the government’s income, collects taxes and manages funding for public services, recognized that it could do more to protect its operations from disruption.
Raúl Cruz Franqui, CIO of the Treasury, says: “If our systems go down, people cannot pay their taxes and ports cannot release merchandise, preventing us from collecting the vital tax income that the government needs to keep Puerto Rico going. When Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit in close succession, we learned a lot about the vulnerability of our systems.”
Previously, the department relied on daily backups to tape to protect some, but not all, data, and lacked a plan to restore systems if an outage affected its business-critical IBM Z server. As the Treasury’s application landscape grew in size and complexity and citizen expectations for availability and flexibility rose, the department saw that this approach was becoming untenable.
With the next hurricane season fast-approaching, the department sought the right partners and technology to better ensure continuous availability of its systems. Glorimar Ripoll, Chief Innovation & Information Officer at the Puerto Rico Innovation and Transformation Service (PRITS), says: “We issued a directive to all Puerto Rico government departments, including the Treasury. They need to look for technology vendors with which they can build meaningful relationships and truly innovative solutions.”
Preparing for an uncertain future
The Treasury called on IBM Business Partner Truenorth to help it recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and to evaluate its existing infrastructure. William Roman, CTO at Truenorth, comments: “We reacted quickly to the disaster and engaged our technical resources to make sure that the Treasury’s systems were available for use as soon as possible. We kept a direct line with IBM on the events that were happening after the hurricane hit the island.”
The department engaged Truenorth and PSR, another IBM Business Partner, to help it design and deploy a robust business continuity solution based on IBM Z technology.
“IBM Z solutions have been at the core of our operations for years, so we were excited to see what the latest generation of the technology would offer,” says Cruz Franqui. “The Truenorth team joined us on the ground from day one, helping to figure out how to manage the project within such tight deadlines. And once PSR was on board, we had daily brainstorming and troubleshooting meetings to help us evaluate, test and implement the proposed solution. Being able to rely on the constant support of both partners was very reassuring, especially as this kind of solution was new territory for us.”
With help from Truenorth, PSR and IBM, the Treasury replaced its existing production server with an IBM z14 server. Using IBM Global Mirror, the department replicates data asynchronously to a second IBM z14 at a separate site operated by another of the Treasury’s main contractors, Evertec. The Treasury also refreshed its storage environment with IBM DS8884 hybrid storage and IBM TS7760 tape systems.
“The team from PSR and True North are transferring knowledge about our new environment to us,” says Cruz Franqui. “They are helping us to get the most out of the powerful IBM Z technology. We’re also creating documentation that ensures that we know how to manage the solution long term and can communicate this information to new employees.”
Ramón Ríos, CTO of the Government of Puerto Rico and PRITS, adds: “Combining IBM Global Mirror technology, grid computing infrastructure and virtual tape systems offers an innovative approach to continuous availability. By delivering real value to the government and citizens of Puerto Rico, we’re fulfilling the goals of PRITS.”
Equipped with the IBM solutions, the Treasury can simulate an outage of the main site and test failover to the alternate site periodically. Using these insights, the team can identify and fix any problems, isolating applications and data to ensure that its entire environment is replicated accurately.
Making life easier for citizens and government
The Treasury can now face the upcoming hurricane season with confidence that its systems are much better protected against disaster, running on resilient IBM Z servers in a dual-site configuration. In the event of an incident affecting its primary data center, the Treasury can switch over to its secondary infrastructure and resume operations within hours.
Cruz Franqui comments: “Today, most of our application landscape is protected by IBM technology. With effective availability measures in place, it’s a huge weight off our minds at the Treasury. We never know when another hurricane may hit Puerto Rico, but at least we know that we’re now better prepared to absorb the impact and recover quickly. For our citizens, this means less disruption to public services and the ability to submit their tax information, while the government can return to business-as-usual sooner.”
Cruz Franqui says: “Deploying the newest IBM Z technology accelerated application performance, cutting response times for users. We also look to benefit in the future from new features such as pervasive encryption, which will help us to protect sensitive data from cyberattacks. This will allow us to reduce risk and simplify compliance with IRS directives for encryption. As a result, we will be able to focus more on delivering vital services to our citizens and collecting the necessary revenue to fund the government’s operations.”
As it continues to develop its business continuity capabilities, continuously reviewing and evolving the arrangements, the Treasury now plans to centralize other government services on its IBM Z infrastructure. The platform will provide a foundation for new, innovative services.
Cruz Franqui concludes: “We will bring other government services onto our infrastructure in the future, so they can also be protected by our cyber resiliency strategy. We’re taking the opportunity to explore new capabilities supported by leading-edge IBM technology. For example, we have been looking at applications for Blockchain to enhance, maybe sometime soon, the way we collect and distribute payments. With powerful, reliable and resilient IBM Z solutions, we ensure that we can weather almost any storm, making life easier for the citizens and government of Puerto Rico.”
About Department of the Treasury of Puerto Rico
The Department of the Treasury of Puerto Rico is responsible for auditing and collecting tax income, as well as planning and financing all services provided by the entire Government of Puerto Rico.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Z, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/it-infrastructure/z.
To learn more about IBM Z cyber resiliency, please visit: ibm.com/it-infrastructure/z/capabilities/resiliency.
To learn more about IBM Systems Lab Services: IBM Z, please visit: ibm.com/it-infrastructure/services/lab-services/z-linuxone
Truenorth serves private enterprise and government in their efforts to enhance or protect revenue and decrease costs with its creative and dynamic services methodologies and offerings, with three core competencies of Management, Software and Hardware.
PSR is an IBM Business Partner that focuses exclusively on IBM Z solutions and attached storage. Founded in 1981, PSR helps customers get the most out of their investment in IBM enterprise systems, delivering optimized performance at the best possible cost.