• Press Release

    May 20, 2008

    First Financial Banks On EMC For Its Business Critical Information Infrastructure

    Financial Reports and Check Images Available to Associates in Seconds Rather Than Days

    HOPKINTON, Mass. - May 20, 2008 -

    EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC), the world leader in information infrastructure solutions, today announced that First Financial Bancorp, an Ohio-based corporation that is the parent company of one of the oldest banks in the United States, has dramatically improved the performance and availability of critical business and client data with EMC® information storage, software and services. 

    Max Abelardo, First Financial Bank’s Vice President of IT Systems Services, said, “As a financial institution, we’re the custodian for our clients’ hard-earned money.  That means we must ensure the highest levels of availability for our core banking systems managing that money.  We also have to continually improve the quality and cost effectiveness of our banking services through improved efficiencies within our information infrastructure.  With EMC, we’ve achieved huge gains in speed and reliability of our data management and protection processes, resulting in higher client satisfaction and staff productivity as well as reduced operational costs.”

    After developing a proof-of-concept at the EMC E-Lab™, EMC Global Services designed and implemented a state-of-the-art information infrastructure that supports the company’s business strategy and backup, recovery and archiving objectives by tiering storage to classes of information according to their value and accessibility requirements.  For its most critical business applications, including Jack Henry core banking and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 for enterprise messaging, First Financial relies on EMC Symmetrix® DMX™ networked storage.  Additional applications, including departmental finance applications and reporting, as well as a large Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse, are supported with EMC CLARiiON® CX3 networked storage. And large volumes of information requiring long-term retention are archived on EMC Centera® content-addressed storage.

    Every day, First Financial’s SQL Server data warehouse generates large financial reports, which result from nightly processing of its core banking application and occupy significant electronic storage space.  Previously, reports were archived on optical media, requiring two full-time associates to manage requests, which often took days to fulfill.  The bank now archives these reports directly from the CLARiiON to Centera using EMC DiskXtender® software.   

    “With EMC archiving, our bank managers can directly access 200-plus types of reports throughout the day so they can monitor the productivity and effectiveness of their banking centers,” said Abelardo.  “They can track overdrafts, cash positions and staff productivity, which helps them make better decisions and improve the quality and efficiency of our bank services.”

    First Financial Bank also archives check images to Centera.  In the past, clients had very limited online access to check images.  Today, the last 90 days of check images are accessible online in seconds, improving client satisfaction significantly.  In addition, First Financial uses Centera to comply with strict government regulations requiring check images to be securely retained for seven years.  All information on the Centera is replicated to a second Centera at the bank’s disaster recovery site situated in a neighboring city using Centera asynchronous replication.

    By archiving, First Financial keeps the size of its backups more manageable, and further speeds backup cycles by using EMC NetWorker® software.  With NetWorker, the bank creates clones of each production database, which are backed up to tape.  At the time of deployment in 2006, NetWorker also consolidated the backup of file server data from 105 banking centers.  Rather than managing backups across multiple locations using a variety of backup solutions, First Financial uses NetWorker to provide a single, consolidated interface, which allows for consistent, reliable backups and simplified restores when a user needs to recover a lost file.

    “Completing backups within a narrow late-night window was becoming nearly impossible,” said Abelardo.  “With EMC, we can clone a one-terabyte database in about 30 minutes and then complete the backup offline with no impact on users.  The backup is also faster because we’ve eliminated any data contention—cutting the impact to users and external customers while speeding our backups by almost 95 percent.”

    To address availability for its most critical data, First Financial configured its core banking application as boot-from-SAN so that the operating system and application data all reside on fibre channel disk on the Symmetrix DMX.  First Financial uses EMC SRDF®/Synchronous (SRDF/S) software for real-time replication of Symmetrix storage from the bank’s primary data center to the recovery site, so that everything needed to recover the application is synchronized in two locations every second of the day.

    “Unlike other solutions that use journaling and require extensive hands-on support, EMC SRDF performs replication and restore functions automatically and allows our administrators to focus purely on our production environment,” said Abelardo.  “In tests, we have had our core applications back up and running in less than 30 minutes with zero data loss compared with the eight to ten hours it used to take to rebuild the systems and restore from tape.  This assures our clients and shareholders that their financial assets are well protected.”

    “I am very pleased with the solution and technical expertise presented by my EMC team,” added Abelardo.

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