NCNB Buys Disaster Recovery System

NCNB Corp. has purchased software designed to keep track of disaster recovery plans at the expansion-minded banking company.

Many banks that are developing corporate-wide disaster recovery plans to meet regulatory requirements are turning to software packages that simplify the job of defining which business functions need to be restored first.

NCNB, based in Charlotte, N.C., recently chose personal-computer-based software from Arel Technologies Inc. of Brooklyn Park, Minn., to help it develop a corporate-wide plan that it will enable it to quickly expand if the bank merges with C&S/Sovran Corp.

Big Picture Ignored

Defining priorities after a disaster can be difficult because the person in charge of the corporate recovery plan - frequently a member of the operations staff - may not fully understand the activities of all of a bank's business units.

Conversely, if a line banker is put in charge, he or she may have trouble understanding recovery plans that involve computer operations.

Of the 30 or so vendors evaluated by NCNB, Arel was one of the few geared to financial institutions, according to Lou van Wunnik, vice president of contingency planning.

About 800 other banks are also using the software, called DPS-30 Disaster Planning System, which carries an entry-level price tag of $2,495. For institutions with assets under $10 million, Arel will also enter the data gathered together by business units as part of the package.

Other Vendors

A number of other vendors offer disaster recovery planning software, including SunGard Recovery Services Inc. and Comdisco Computing Services Corp.

Arel's product is designed to provide a standard structure for a multitude of individual disaster recovery plans from different business units.

The bank surveys employees, asking what tasks each individual performs and how critical they are to the organization.

The surveys are consolidated to generate reports that indicate the most vulnerable areas and the names, functions, and locations of all personnel.

DPS-30 also includes methods for recovering areas such as the teller line, foreign exchange trading, wire transfer, and back-office operations.

Alternatives Are Pricier

Competing products that are not specifically aimed at banks can cost four or five times what Arel's system costs, several bankers said.

"We were able to get a site license that we could use if we expanded" through a bank merger, Mr. van Wunnik said. "Other vendors were looking for a unit price at a high maintenance cost."

NCNB expects to develop about 1,000 different recovery plans in the coming months. Mr. van Wunnik said that the second reason the bank chose DPS-30 is that the data base management system it uses can accommodate close to 2,000 plans.

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