Workwear firm standardises on 3PAR

Sunlight Service Group adds another 3PAR array at DR site; looks for archiving tools and cheaper forms of storage, such as SATA arrays to create tiered storage architecture.

Najeeb Ahmad, technical projects and support manager with Sunlight Service Group Ltd says his storage spending priorities this year are focused on building a disaster recovery site using a second 3PAR array.

Sunlight provides textile rental and laundering services to more than 70,000 UK customers in industries such as hospitality and healthcare, as well as to government, with more than one million people wearing its garments at work. Key to its business is on-time, accurate delivery to customers, so optimal logistics scheduling and adherence to service level targets are critical.

Last year the business implemented Microsoft Dynamics AX as its core business software, replacing a bespoke Unix application. To deliver data to those business critical applications it implemented a 3PAR InServ S400 Fibre Channel SAN with thin provisioning and 14.4 terabytes of capacity at its Basingstoke HQ. This replaces a distributed configuration of Compaq Proliant servers with direct attached storage at 55 UK sites- a horrible management and provisioning burden. What portion of your IT budget goes to storage?

Najeeb Ahmad: Storage is becoming an ever greater chunk of our budget. It is in a central position because we are reliant on it to run our core services, especially the new Microsoft Dynamics AX system, which allows us to be more dynamic in terms of response to the customer.

In terms of spending, what are your key storage priorities for the coming year?

Ahmad: We've just agreed to implement replication between the core site and our remote DR site, also in the south of England. This will be a second 3PAR-based SAN, an E200 with an additional 14.4TB connected to HP Proliant servers.

Later in the year we will also investigate implementing a tiered architecture so we can move data on onto more appropriate media through its lifecycle. At present we just back up to HP LTO3 tape drives. So, we'll be looking at archiving tools and cheaper forms of storage, such as SATA arrays, and possibly also virtual tape libraries.

Of your total storage budget, what proportion will be accounted for by a) hardware and software b) management and staffing?

Ahmad: The majority of the budget will be made up of hardware and software. We have just two IT administrators dedicated to servers and storage and less than 2% of their time is spent administering the storage system.

Our admin requirements have shrunk hugely since moving from the distributed DAS set up. Previously we backed up to tape at local sites and had to poll sites and extrapolate figures using Compaq Insight Manager before provisioning. Now things are all centrally managed and we can see capacities and make allocations centrally.

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