Eliminate Migration Hassles With Scalable Storage
A minor upgrade turned into a major installation when this systems integrator showed a business supplies company the benefits of magnetic disk storage.
Small jobs can lead to large installations if a systems integrator listens closely to its customers' needs. In April, a national business supplies company contacted Dimension Data (Atlanta), an IT services provider and systems integrator, to add capacity to its optical library. The business supplies company planned to upgrade capacity by adding a couple of drives to the company's optical storage system. But when Gary Brown, solutions architect at Dimension Data, visited the company, he realized adding the drives would only be a short-term fix. He found out the company's optical disk drives were unreliable and sometimes crashed.
Furthermore, the business supplies company had been upgrading to new drives and media every few years to address its storage needs. Those upgrades required data migrations that took several weeks, and Brown told the company it would likely have to do another migration in a couple of years even if two new drives were installed. The company did not relish that prospect, since previous data migrations had been so time consuming.
Due to the multiple driver upgrades the company had implemented in the past, it ran the risk of not being able to recover old data. "The problem with upgrading optical is that if you need to recover data from optical media that's seven years old, you may no longer have a drive that can read that kind of platter because you've upgraded to newer drive technology," says Andy Stallworth, an account manager at Dimension Data.
Dimension Data, which had previously implemented servers and other systems for the business supplies company, informed executives that a Centera magnetic disk system from EMC Corp. (Hopkinton, MA) would eliminate the need to migrate data when adding capacity. He also noted that the system would improve the company's ability to recover data since it would no longer have to upgrade its drive technology every few years. "Initially, we were just going to add two more optical drives," says Brown. "That's how this whole thing started."
Demonstrate Content Addressed Storage To Ease Implementation
Dimension Data installed two Centera 40U storage cabinets, one at the business supplies company's data center and another at its disaster recovery site 30 miles away, to store the electronic invoices the company generates. The system includes Centera's Compliance Edition software, which provides access to documents online. This software includes a Content Addressed Storage (CAS) system that attaches a C-Clip to each file. A C-Clip, the software's term for the unique identifier assigned to each file, enables users to retrieve a file by inputting its content address information. Before installing the system, Dimension Data provided a demonstration of the system at EMC's offices. This demonstration served two purposes - it showed the benefits of CAS to the employees who retrieve electronic documents, and it informed IT staff about integration issues. "We mitigated the risk and fear out of the installation," says Brown. "We educated the end users about the concept of Content Addressed Storage."
Since the company uses IXOS software to produce the electronic documents that are stored, the CAS system needed to be integrated with that document capture program. IXOS representatives were called in to provide the content addresses for the IXOS system. Due to the scalability of the Centera storage system, the company will no longer have to invest in new systems that require data migration. The storage architecture is based on RAIN (redundant arrays of independent nodes) that will enable the company to plug in additional storage nodes to add capacity. The system automatically configures data when new capacity is added.
Install Replication System To Reduce Manual Tasks
In the company's previous disaster recovery system, data was copied to optical platters and then transported to an off-site storage facility. To retrieve data, the company would have to call the storage facility and have the platters delivered to its data center, where the platters were loaded into the jukebox. In the new disaster recovery system, replication software transfers data from the Centera cabinet in the data center to a second Centera cabinet at the disaster recovery site via a LAN.
"We eliminate media handling. We've taken manual tasks out of the mix," says Brown. "The company wanted to get away from its labor-intensive retrieval efforts. All the company has to do to retrieve data in a disaster recovery procedure is rebuild its IXOS system and plug it into the Centera, and they're back online with an entire archive." With the reduction in manual labor, the business will be able to reassign IT personnel to duties that better support the business.
Now that Dimension Data has implemented this storage platform for electronic invoices, the systems integrator has begun talking to the client about leveraging the technology for other applications such as e-mail documents and unstructured data. "This is probably phase one of many," says Brown. "The company will be leveraging the system as its archive tank in the future."