Case study

German manufacturer Sigel boosts efficiency with storage hypervisor

Archana Venkatraman

German office supplies manufacturer Sigel GmbH used storage virtualisation to improve the performance of its VMware-based virtual servers and its Oracle database systems.

Sigel also cut costs with its storage hypervisor technology.

Sigel GmbH, uses the Electronic Data Industry EDIFACT standard system for sales and business processes, such as ordering and invoicing. A continuous high availability of the system is critical because a disruption or downtime in the sales and business processes system could bring a complete stop to its operations.

This requires the IT department to prevent downtime and ensure stability and optimisation of its datacentre systems at all times, says Hans Wiedemann, head of IT at Sigel.

The team decided to virtualise its servers and consolidate them to improve systems’ efficiency, reduce downtime and cut datacentre running costs. With server virtualisation, Sigel transformed its legacy physical infrastructure of 15 Linux and 12 Windows systems into a single VMware’s vSphere virtualisation platform running on four Fujitsu Primergy RX300 servers.

While server virtualisation helped it reduce downtime, the IT team wanted to improve its storage systems for continuous high availability. It then decided to invest in a storage hypervisor to add storage hardware for more performance enhancements.

The team implemented a storage system based on Datacore’s SANsymphony-V Storage Hypervisor. The tool helped Sigel’s IT team to cache and automate tiered storage, which in turn optimised the mix of SSD flash storage and SAS disk drives to provide highly available storage infrastructure for its VMware vSphere and Oracle database systems. This has helped Sigel improve IT performance and flexibility significantly.

The storage virtualisation project also helped the company save 30% of upfront costs in storage hardware and yield long-term power savings, Wiedemann says.

“We don’t have to rely on expensive storage manufacturers anymore and we can easily expand capacity and performance flexibly to support our critical applications and databases,” he says.

The storage virtualisation project also means the IT team does not need to manually administer the system.

“Our storage is more efficient and faster than before. In addition, we know we would have paid 30% or more if we had gone with a hardware-only solution," Wiedemann says.

IT also enables Sigel to integrate the existing storage investments and new storage hardware – comprising different models and different manufacturers – into a virtual shared storage resource pool.

Benefits of storage hypervisor’s auto-tiering capabilities

The IT team can now quickly create, assign and provision virtual drives with automated tiering and auto-failover data protection features to virtual or physical machines.

There were other benefits of the storage hypervisor too. Sigel reports a measurable and noticeable acceleration of the overall performance of its virtual machine environment, Wiedemann says.

Compared to the old infrastructure, the frequent "night upgrades and installations" – where the IT team had to perform jobs such as software updates – now takes a quarter of the time.

The storage hypervisor’s auto-tiering function also helped Sigel’s team to become more strategic. The department can move higher performance workloads and data – such as the Oracle databases that require faster response times and more demanding I/O – to the faster SSD drives; while keeping less-used and active data on the lower cost SAS disks, improving systems efficiency.


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