Summary:\nWhen a fire breaks out in DHFL\u2019s headquarters, head-IT, Satish Kotian\u2019s disaster recovery strategy keeps the business afloat.\nDewan Housing Finance (DHFL), India\u2019s second-largest private housing finance company, isn\u2019t readying for a slowdown. According to market researcher RNCOS, the market for \u2018medium-housing\u2019 (as opposed to high-end and low-cost) will grow at 26 percent CAGR between 2011 and 2013\u2014and Mumbai-headquartered DHFL is determined to piggyback on that wave.\nThe Business case: Satish Kotian, head-IT, DHFL, has been with the company since 1992 and has witnessed the evolution of the housing sector from close quarters. As business mushroomed\u2014DHFL has consistently grown at a CAGR of 35 percent\u2014Kotian anticipated the need for reliable, resilient and secure IT infrastructure. "Having a DR is like investing in insurance. It prepares you for all eventualities. I deemed it necessary to bolster our emergency preparedness so that business operations are not stalled in the face of a crisis," says Kotian.\nWe add new customers per month and our installment collection is about Rs 200 crore from existing customers. These would have been impaired if the systems were not functional during this disaster.\nFirst Steps: In the third quarter of 2009-10, Kotian appointed IBM to assess DHFL\u2019s infrastructure security. They came up with a number of suggestions, the sum of which Kotian knew would be very difficult to implement in-house.\nConventional wisdom pointed to hosting their own primary datacenter and outsourcing their DR to a service provider. But, DHFL had different plans. \u201cWe did not want to build our own datacenter because it would involve prohibitive investment in terms of hiring skilled personnel for maintenance and security. And we needed an IT infrastructure which could withstand the ravages of a disaster,\u201d says Kotian.\nHe resolved to invest in managed services. The strategy would help him avoid frequent operational fire-fighting and ensure proactive monitoring. Once he had identified a partner, Kotian also ensured that his staff was not intimidated with the outsourcing move, he says. The project was executed within four months and in July 11, 2010, DHFL\u2019s hosted datacenter was up and running.\nWe add new customers per month and our installment collection is about Rs 200 crore from existing customers. These would have been impaired if the systems were not functional during this disaster.\nThe Benefits: The move brought operational ease, flexibility, scalability as well as cost effectiveness while allowing DHFL to execute business demands faster because instead of fighting fires DHFL\u2019s IT team can work on business projects.\nBut it was in November 2010 that Kotian\u2019s DR strategy really paid off. That month a fire broke out at DHFL\u2019s corporate office rendering the facility non-operational for a month. But that didn\u2019t affect the business. \u201cWith a centralized architecture and our browser-based application, it was easier for us to meet our customers\u2019 requirements during this period. Top management heaved a sigh of relief because customer information and transaction records were completely safe,\u201d says Kotian.\nA lack of foresight on Kotian\u2019s part would have affected the company\u2019s bottom line directly. \u201cEvery month, we add between 7,000-8,000 new customers and our installment collection is to the tune of Rs 200 crore from existing customers. These would have been impaired if the systems were not functional during this disaster,\u201d he says.\nBeing a financial institute, DHFL needs to submit various reports to its regulator the National Housing Bank and its lenders. Thanks to the DR, system support was available during the crises and the company was able to comply with all these requirements.