Suffolk university dumps failing IBM DS SAN and gets Fujitsu DX-80s

University Campus Suffolk couldn’t go on when IBM “washed its hands” of a failing DS4700. After disastrous pitches from numerous storage suppliers it went with Fujitsu

University Campus Suffolk (UCS) dumped a failing IBM DS4700 SAN and replaced it with a pair of Fujitsu DX-80s. The organisation made the £140,000 move after IBM “washed its hands” of the troublesome DS4700 and it needed reliable storage for its virtualisation project.

UCS – with its main site in Ipswich – has 9,000 students and 850 staff that access the organisations IT systems via smartphones, laptops and desktops.

It is currently part way through a project to deliver apps that range from office productivity to specialised departmental applications from a virtualised infrastructure and is currently at the 35% mark.

A prerequisite for a successful virtualisation project is reliable shared storage, but UCS had long suffered from performance and availability problems with an IBM DS4700 SAN that often failed, said John Herd, head of IT at UCS.

He said: “The previous SAN, an IBM DS4700, fell over a lot. We spent 18 months trying to get things right until IBM washed its hands of it. We suffered catastrophic data losses that included a two-week rebuild from backups of all data and another occasion where all email was lost.”

He added: “One problem was that backups were staged to disk on the IBM SAN and it wasn’t performant enough to cope. We asked around the channel for a generic, simple, scalable system and were recommended Fujitsu.”

In the end IBM “washed its hands” of the issues with the DS SAN and UCS’ IT department decided it wouldn’t try to keep it going without supplier support.

Herd’s team began to look around for a new SAN to support the virtualisation project and eventually settled on Fujitsu DX-80, but not after a lot of other storage suppliers had tried and failed to sell them inappropriate or expensive solutions.

UCS Director of IT Peter O’Rourke reeled off a list of storage suppliers that offered systems that were too costly or inappropriately specified for the organisation’s needs.

HP said: “'You need an EVA’ and showed the price tag of £750,000. When I got back onto my chair, I said we didn’t need all those features,” said O’Rourke.

IBM offered a successor system, said O’Rourke, also with an “eye-watering” price tag while Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) offered “the wrong system at the wrong price”. Meanwhile, “Dell seemed to be at year end and keen to dump anything onto us,” said the director of IT.

Finally there was EMC. “The price was laughable,” said O’Rourke. “They seemed to have no comprehension of the financial or technical capabilities we possessed in relation to the systems they wanted to sell to us.”

Finally, Fujitsu offered “a reasonable system at a reasonable price,” said head of IT, Herd.

Herd added: “Fujitsu is boringly reliable and as a technical person I will take that every time. I don’t want exciting or unpredictable; I want it to do the same thing every time. We didn’t want snapshots or replication or lots of features but a simple, affordable storage system.”

What UCS eventually settled on was two Fujitsu DX80s with SAS (circa 44TB) and SATA (128TB) drives with no snapshots and no replication. It is split into A and B SANs. Each stores some of the university’s key application data and each backs up to the other and then to IBM tape.

The key benefit for UCS is that it has shared storage that works reliably to support its virtualisation project, said O’Rourke.

“We’ve got a 100% increase in storage reliability,” he said “We’d got to the point with the IBM SAN that our technical staff wouldn’t define, expand or contract LUNs on the DS because they knew it would go bang.”

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and it's more reliable - shock horror - who would have thought it?

Seriously, is this newsworthy? Only if no one else is buying DX80s..........

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Don't believe that for a minute

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I'd like to read more stories like this....

Please can we have one about a customer that has recently moved away from IBM Networking as they "washed their hands of" a troublesome 16/4 Token Ring network?

I can provide the quote if it helps the work experience person that turns vapid press releases into articles - how about something like..... "we did all we could, but no matter what, we couldn't get the Gigabit speeds were looking for from the old IBM Token Ring technology...."

What's next?

"Ancient failing HP Dot Matrix printer replaced by *pick low tier laser printer vendor brand*. Users amazed at print quality improvement and wish they'd done it weeks earlier".

Customers dumping OS2 and moving to Windows 8? (actually, that last one might not be such a great idea)

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Fill Disclosure: Have I seen some nasty issues with the 4700? Absolutely. YEARS ago. Have I noticed a reduction in the quality of support from IBM ever since NetApp gobbled up Engenio? You bet.

That said:

Shame on you Fujitsu, shame on you UCS and shame on you Computer Weekly for approving and publishing such an obvious pile of sensationalist IT drivel. Not even Chris Mellor would stoop this low. There is more about IBM's shortcomings than there than there is about the quality of Fujitsu's DX product line.

Lumping the other vendors nto this ridiculous article? Your shocking price tags (UCS) was clearly an indication that you are not a desirable customer. It says a considerable amount more about Fujitsu's desperation to win your business than it does about everyone else's pricing strategy.

"Washed it's hands?" That box is dead. You needed a refresh. Fair enough, buy some Fujitsu if it meets your requirements and comes in on budget. But IBM "Washed it's hands?". Of course they washed their hands! Look at your behaviour! Look at this article! It reeks of sour grapes!

If I were IBM, I would be seriously considering a slander case against the lot of you. They do some very silly things commercially at that level (usually involving giving in to the ridiculous bile that has been written here), but I do no believe for a second that anyone involved in this situation has left it with the benefit of "washed hands".

Pete O'Rourke - good luck getting a favourable deal on your next refresh.

UCS procurement - congrats, you are now a risk to every IT hardware vendor in the game. Enjoy a long lasting period of high prices and half-baked tender responses loaded with margin and not fit for purpose. Blame the guy above, call the dean and get him sacked. Immediately.

Fujitsu - Seriously? You've got some well performing, well priced kit. Do you really have to stoop to this? Here's a pound, spend it on proper marketing and a decent sales guy that can actually translate value.

Computer Weekly - I will find it difficult to take any future article you post here seriously. May your advertising revenue suffer as a result this incredibly ill-advised decision to publish this bog roll of an article

Antony Adshead - News International not hiring at the moment?

Get a grip the lot of you

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UCS don’t want replication or snapshots
but the two sans backup to each other...errrrr am I missing something?

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Why is the article top news again according to Computer Weekly - has nothing else happened in the past 3 weeks or do the author/editor want to get lampooned in the comments even more?

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This story is so clearly a plant paid for by Fujitsu. DS4700 is an old IBM SAN. The V7000 is the modern replacement. Fujitsu has appx 1% storage market share.

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