GlaxoSmithKline upgrades storage to cut back-up time and save £1.3m

Pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline is undertaking a major storage upgrade with the aim of reducing back-up times by nearly...

Last year, the firm signed a £1.1m deal with storage giant EMC to provide storage management for its UK sales and marketing business. The move is expected to save £1.3m in operational costs over the next three years.

Under the terms of the deal, GlaxoSmithKline is consolidating its existing direct attached storage and server infrastructure into a networked storage architecture. It will also use remote mirroring software to maintain mirrored copies of its data at its remote datacentre.

The agreement was signed following a six-week analysis by financial services firm KPMG which showed that GlaxoSmithKline's direct attached storage infrastructure - where storage devices are attached directly to servers - made information management difficult, and was struggling to support the company's growth.

Arif Devji, director of UK IT infrastructure services at GlaxoSmithKline, said the networked storage architecture has already helped to slash the company's five-hour back-up window.

"We have already eliminated outages from back-up across all systems migrated onto the new environment and cut back-up time to 10 minutes," he said.

"Now that we have the capability to provide additional disc capacity on demand, our data-related projects are delivered earlier and cheaper - this storage strategy has directly helped us generate profit using IT."

Devji said the data volumes generated by the company's 1,000-strong sales and marketing team had been escalating at "an alarming rate".

"By managing the storage better we can help reduce cost and realise benefits of projects faster, because deployment is accelerated by using storage effectively," he said.

As part of the deal, EMC has built a storage area network that connects to both Unix and NT servers. GlaxoSmithKline is also using the storage firm's Controlcenter and Powerpath software to centralise management of its storage. In a first for Microsoft, the next version of SQL Server, codenamed Yukon, will include built-in reporting for end-users, writes Cliff Saran.

Microsoft aims to evolve the business intelligence features within its relational database product to provide a set of web services and programming interfaces to allow database administrators to create reports for end-users.

Cassandra Nuttall, server and solutions marketing manager at Microsoft, said reports in the next release of SQL Server could be distributed to end-users either over the web or within Excel spreadsheets or Word documents.

Helena Schwenk, senior analyst at Ovum, believes Microsoft's move into end-user business reporting could change the landscape for third-party reporting tools dramatically. "There is a move within the industry for consolidation, away from best-of-breed reporting tools to complete database platforms," she said.

However, IDC's research director Rob Hailstone said that while Microsoft would provide out-of-the-box reporting, there would still be demand from users for products that focus specifically on reporting tools that fit their industry sectors.

A beta release of the next version of SQL Server is expected to appear by the end of 2003.

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