Business Continuity Incident: UPS failure hits 2nd insurance service provider



A document leaked to Insurance Age reveals that Acturis suffered a major power failure in June due to a National Grid lightning strike.

Titled: Acturis System Resilience and Disaster Recovery it stated that a lightning strike impacted power supply to its main production data centre at Global Switch in London at 17:04 on 23 June.

Initially, the emergency back-up generators kicked in as planned but, after several minutes of operation, two of the back-up generators in one of the power stations failed at 17:14.

The report continued: “At this point the power source was transferred back to the mains supply, but in order for this to take effect, a momentary (300 milliseconds) loss of power was required at 17:15. The result of this momentary loss of power to the Acturis System was a complete system shut down.”

The Acturis System was restored to full operation in 2 hours.

The document, authored by co-CEOs David McDonald and Theo Duchen and dated 5 September, read: “We were obviously very disappointed and concerned by the interruption to your service and in order to further reduce the likelihood of re-occurrence of this combination of power failures we have worked with Global Switch to increase the number of backup generators to be N+2 rather than N+1.”

Data loss
The software specialists wrote that they were releasing the report, which only went to broker customers and insurers, following the events at SSP over the past 10 days, having “understandably had a number of questions” from clients.

In a question and answer series it addressed Acturis System’s resilience and disaster recovery plans.

The report noted that the average monthly availability of the entire Acturis System since 2010 has been in excess of 99.95%.

It also highlighted that from the outset, the Acturis System was designed to be a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) platform arguing this gave it resilience and recovery advantages over retrofitted designs.

Data loss
Addressing the issue of potential data loss the presentation listed the qualities of its Storage Area Networks, Network Array Storage, disk failure protection and configuration as well as the shutdown procedures, which it has experienced, in order to deliver early resumption of service.

Acturis pledged: “Protection against data loss is a key element of the Acturis SaaS Platform design,” adding that it operated on a 2-tier data backup strategy to ensure multiple copies of the data are kept including near-real time replication in its Amsterdam Data Centre.

Along with weekly full back-ups, daily incremental back-ups and periodic testing it summed up: “The combination of these protections means that it is very unlikely that any data will be lost as a result of a power failure or a hardware failure of the SAN.”

One question posed in the document asked whether there “would be a faster failover than appears to be the case with SSP?”

It listed a data centre in London, a disaster recovery site in Amsterdam and a third Manchester network point of presence.

“The Amsterdam Data Centre also holds all our development, testing, QA and UAT systems which ensures that it is in daily use and is not a theoretical data centre which may fail to operate when it is most needed,” detailed the document.

Brokers interest
Another question asked how well was Acturis aligned to the interest of brokers.

“Were we to have suffered an issue of the scale and duration of the current SSP issue then all of our clients would automatically receive significant Service Level Credits and would have an immediate right to terminate their contract with Acturis,” the document read.

“And finally we have invested, and we continue to invest, in enterprise scale equipment and processes to minimise data loss and service interruption in the event of such a situation.”