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Storage on demand deal helps Barclays meet green storage targets

Antony Adshead, UK bureau chief, storage

Barclays Bank has boosted its efforts to achieve its green storage by signing a four-year storage on demand contract with Hitachi Data Systems which will allow the bank to sidestep power and space constraints, increase utilisation levels to around 70% with thin provisioning and provide projected cost savings three times higher than it could have gained on a per-project basis.

According to terms of the SLA-driven contract, HDS will supply a SAN subsystem based on its high-end USP V hardware at Barclays' to bring capacity to 1 petabyte at the new 28,000 sq ft Gloucester datacentre. The facility will come online next February and is an extension to existing premises at the site where a number of rooms are being consolidated. HDS is already engaged in a similar contract at the existing datacentre.

The storage on demand contract – which is in line with others Barclays has in place with vendors at other datacentres – will see the bank pay an undisclosed agreed sum per terabyte, with the price reducing on a quarterly basis. The contract also contains a money-back element where storage purchased earns credit which can be used to reinvest in products and services with HDS. The vendor is also subject to penalty clauses that gain in severity as downtime clocks up in a measure aimed at maximising availability for storage on demand.

Barclays has plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2010. Earlier this year the bank announced that it had struck a deal with HP for the vendor's Dynamic Smart Cooling technology – which uses sensors to direct cool air to where it is most needed -- at the Gloucester datacentre.

We were running out of power and space and the ability to back data up.
Neil Puddicombe
head of core systems, Barclays Bank

 According to Elaine Heyworth, Barclays' head of environmental management, the bank aims to cut power bills by using low power-usage processors, server virtualisation, automated lighting systems and 'free cooling,' which allows cooling systems to bypass power-hungry air conditioning chillers and use ambient air when outside temperatures are sufficiently low.

Key drivers for green storage
The key drivers for green storage were not only to meet the Barclays' environmental targets but also to ensure that the bank could continue to expand operations at the datacentre, said head of core systems Neil Puddicombe. "We were running out of power and space and the ability to back data up, so there were service risk issues with the existing setup," he said. "We have also eliminated long lead times on upgrading storage and enabled quicker product development. We're funding this through growth and are achieving more than three times the saving than would have been the case on a per-project basis."

The HDS USP V-based SAN subsystem will provide storage for the bank's Unix and mainframe systems, while an HDS AMS array with a NetApp NAS head will provide storage for Windows files.

HDS won the contract in competition with IBM, HP and EMC in a structured RFP process. The vendor won out when a number of key elements were considered, according to Puddicombe. He said, "The criteria were conformity to our requirements; price, and; the fact that HDS comes with a lot of virtualisation technology which has helped us consolidate legacy storage to new technology."

Key to Barclays' plans to increase the efficiency of its green storage assets is boosting utilisation rates. A continuing problem for the bank has been departments requesting capacity which then goes unused. Barclays will attempt to discourage this practice by charging departments for storage allocated as well as by agreeing with HDS that capacity is increased when utilisation reaches 70%.

"We're driving up utilisation rates hugely by forcing people to pay for what they need," said Puddicombe. "It is one of the challenges of storage that people constantly ask for far more than they actually use. So if you have a way of transferring the cost to them, they look to see what they can delete or offload to another form of storage."

 


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