The network storage infrastructure at TVS Motor Co., India's third-largest two-wheeler manufacturer, provides many noteworthy examples to emulate. An ideal implementation on this front is TVS Motor's initiative to consolidate its storage infrastructure (which includes legacy storage) with a storage area network (SAN). Storage virtualization has also been used as part of this project.
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Storage consolidation to reach higher goals
Before 2001, TVS Motor relied largely on legacy storage systems. In 2001, the company made the decision to implement ERP. The need for storage consolidation arose at this point, and a SAN implementation also came into the picture.
TVS Motor conducts its storage sizing exercise based on business and its application requirements. The company has a per-day data growth of 1 GB. As T G Dhandapani, the corporate chief information officer at TVS Motor, explains, "Before the SAN came in, legacy systems were in place. There was no independent SAN as such. Since we were about to opt for a SAP ERP implementation, we chose to go for SAN at the same time."
After extensive evaluation, TVS Motor chose a SAN solution from Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) to consolidate its storage infrastructure. Commenting on the selection aspects, Dhandapani says, "During a SAN solution's evaluation, scalability should be the biggest concern. Next comes adaptability and reliability. The solution should be robust enough to meet requirements. Also, every SAN solution should be able to do segment-wise data backup."
TVS Motor's SAN went live in 2001. TVS Motor made it a priority to source SAP servers and storage from the same vendor so as part of the selection exercise, the IT team evaluated solutions from Sun Microsystems Inc., IBM and HP. "After evaluating these three vendors, we decided to go for HP purely due to the price-performance ratio. All these vendors are established when it comes to technology. However, India is a price-sensitive market, so the price point is what made HP different," Dhandapani explains. The SAN has been deployed at TVS Motor's on-premise data center in Hosur. The in-house IT team handled the SAN implementation.
According to Dhandapani, it is necessary to measure each application's importance and its data backup needs when provisioning applications on the SAN. TVS Motor's data center has 60 servers, out of which 20 HP servers are connected to the SAN. At the time of implementation, the SAN had a storage capacity of approximately 12 terabytes (TB). The SAN has been configured to Raid 1 and 5. The company uses HP's proprietary storage management tools.
During the implementation, TVS Motor's biggest concern was data integrity. "Data migration is the typical challenge with such SAN implementations. Luckily, data migration did not pose any problems since we had a new ERP implementation. Since the data was sorted from day one itself, there was no question of migrating data," Dhandapani says.
Going the virtualization way
Over the years, TVS Motor's executives felt the need to scale up the company's SAN to meet system stability and business requirements. Hence, they decided to upgrade the SAN storage in July 2008. With this upgrade, the SAN's storage capacity has been increased to 24TB.
According to Dhandapani, storage virtualization reduces CapEx costs made on the investment. "It also makes the system available in case of hardware or operating system failures. This made us opt for storage virtualization. We used HP's proprietary virtualization solution during the SAN upgrade." TVS Motor virtualized its storage using hybrid appliances.
Apart from fulfilling its business objectives in terms of data storage, TVS is reaping additional benefits. Storage virtualization has made storage administration simpler due to backup automation.