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Case study: Vocalink storage migration project driven by support concerns

Karl Flinders

Payments-clearing firm Vocalink future-proofed its business-critical storage systems and is now saving £10,000 per terabyte stored after completing a project to replace systems as its support contract finished.

The storage systems used by Vocalink contain some of the most sensitive data the average person has, but in 2008 the payments processing company was forced to replace these systems. Vocalink runs the systems that clear UK salaries and payments. The project moved data related to the Bacs, Faster Payments and the Euro Clearing and Settlement Mechanism Service systems.

The supplier of the previous storage systems it had used since 2003, Hitachi, was ending the support contract for the systems at Vocalink. "We had to move off the systems before this," says Martin Hargreaves, systems architect at Vocalink. After a tendering process, the company selected an EMC Symmetrix Array.

Hargreaves said Vocalink does not want to have to migrate its data across systems very often, so the lifespan of systems and support are vital considerations.

"What really sold it to us was longevity. We looked at supplier support roadmaps and the EMC VMAX array had only been around a few months. Also looking at EMCs past products, it supports them for 10 to 11 years whereas competitors were usually 5 to 7 years," said Martin Hargreaves.

The decision to select EMC was also helped by the fact that Vocalink already had a relationship with EMC through a previous project. That began a year earlier in 2007, when Vocalink introduced tiered storage system and selected EMC to introduce the new tier.

Due to the sensitivity of the data contained on the systems, it could not afford any downtime or loss of data. Hargreaves said in 40 years Vocalink had never lost a transaction.

Vocalink decided to use the professional services of EMC to support an in-house team of 7 IT staff dedicated to the migration. The migration was done in stages to reduce risk and learn through experience. "We started with the less important servers so by the time we got to the more important servers, we had done it a few times."

He said this paid off and Vocalink was able to do the project for less money than originally estimated. "We had budgeted for the EMC professional services but didn't need as much as we expected."


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