Western Union
Moving money effectively with highly available file transfer for billion-dollar transaction volumes
Woman using a phone

Processing an average of 31 transactions per second in 2015, even a few minutes of unplanned downtime has a significant impact on Western Union's business. By implementing IBM Sterling Global Mailbox, Western Union will reduce its recovery time objective from hours to minutes, ensuring that critical files are always transferred on time.

Business challenge

Processing files worth several million dollars every single day, Western Union wanted to keep its business risk as low as possible. How could it ensure 24/7 file transfer no matter what?


By implementing IBM Sterling Global Mailbox in an active/active configuration, Western Union will enable automatic replication of files between its production and disaster recovery sites.

Results Instant failover
ensures maximum availability for critical file transfers
disaster recovery time objective, 95 percent faster than previously possible
Western Union to meet demanding SLAs even in the event of disaster
Business challenge story
Supporting round-the-clock operations

Businesses and private customers around the world rely on Western Union to transfer money quickly and reliably. A truly international company, Western Union processes payments 24/7—completing an average of 31 transactions each second in 2015. As a result, even a few minutes of unplanned downtime has a significant impact on business.

Brenda Gillespie, Senior Systems Analyst at Western Union, elaborates: “Our file transfer infrastructure supports money transfers, wires, settlements and more. When it comes to transferring files with high dollar values, downtime simply cannot occur. Availability is crucial to prevent any delay to client services.”

Like many leading enterprises, Western Union uses IBM B2B Integrator as a flexible gateway for trading communications. In addition, the company relies on IBM Secure Proxy to provide a perimeter to its internal network, and IBM Sterling Connect:Direct® for rapid transfers at speed and scale. To meet demanding SLAs, Western Union wanted to restore these B2B integration capabilities rapidly in the event of an unplanned outage in its production environment.

Brenda Gillespie comments: “We transmit around 20,000 files every day across an extensive network of 4,000 active users with 8,500 mailboxes. Any outage could expose us to risk as our clients and vendors depend on us to transmit our data in a timely manner. To meet our demanding service level agreements [SLAs], we looked for a way to switch from our production to our disaster recovery environment at the touch of a button.”

Global Mailbox will enable us to keep money moving all day, every day. Brenda Gillespie Senior Systems Analyst Western Union
Transformation story
Building a resilient platform

To improve business continuity, Western Union decided to architect a new active/active disaster recovery configuration, supported by IBM Sterling Global Mailbox. The new solution will run on the company’s existing production data center, and a new, state-of-the-art disaster recovery data center.

Brenda Gillespie says: “We have been using IBM B2B Integrator as our file gateway for almost a decade, and we continue to be very satisfied with our IBM solutions. Our information security team is a big fan of the validation and authentication capabilities in Secure Proxy, and many of our largest clients also use Connect:Direct. And crucially, IBM B2B Integrator makes it possible for our lean, two-person team to manage an enterprise trading network with minimal manual effort.

“By augmenting our existing B2B integration infrastructure with Sterling Global Mailbox, we realized we could create a low-latency active/active data center configuration, with file-transfer data synchronized between our production and disaster recovery sites in real time.”

When Western Union’s new disaster recovery site is complete, Sterling Global Mailbox will synchronously replicate file-transfer data between both the production and disaster recovery data centers, enabling rapid failover. As before, perimeter servers will serve in- and out-bound traffic at both sites, and IBM Secure Proxy will create a demilitarized zone between the internet and applications on the company’s internal network.

Brenda Gillespie comments: “We have a tremendous relationship with IBM, which reaches back many years. We meet on a cadence call every month, which gives us the opportunity to talk through any technical issues we have—and it’s very reassuring to know that expert guidance is only a phone call or email away if we need it.”

Results story
Delivering recovery in minutes

With Global Mailbox, Western Union hopes to accelerate and automate its disaster recovery processes and drive down its recovery time objective—ensuring file transfers run smoothly around the clock, no matter what.

Brenda Gillespie says: “We are very excited about the new capabilities that Global Mailbox will deliver. There will be no need to copy files and laboriously check what has or has not been sent. Global Mailbox will provide rock-solid availability for our file transfer services, ensuring that critical files are transferred on time, every time—reducing the risk of missing a key SLA.

“Since our files will be synchronously replicated, we will be able to switch to our disaster recovery site extremely quickly. In fact, we predict that it will take us just five minutes to switch from production to disaster recovery. And because we will be adopting an active/active rather than an active/passive configuration, we can maximize our investment in our disaster recovery data center.

“As an added bonus, the IBM solution will make patching and system maintenance much easier than in the past. If we need to perform maintenance in our production environment, we can move production over to the disaster recovery data center until the work is complete.”

Brenda Gillespie concludes: “We are confident that our new disaster recovery solution, supported by Global Mailbox, will be immensely valuable to the business—helping us to keep files moving smoothly 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Western Union

Western Union (link resides outside of ibm.com) is a leader in global payment services, transferring nearly USD 150 billion cross-border for consumer and business clients in 2015. With more than 550,000 agent locations in over 200 countries and territories as of the third quarter of 2016, the company offers one of the easiest ways for families, friends and businesses to send money and stay connected almost anywhere in the world.

Take the next step

To learn more about IBM B2B Integrator, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/products/b2b-integrator.

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