City financial player guarded on deduplication

CMC markets is evaluating data deduplication but it's not just the technical characteristics of particular solutions it needs to look at but the spin-off effects on its processes.

CMC Markets is a financial services provider, offering real-time Internet-based trading of more than 3,500 different products. It has 20 offices worldwide and its core application is its homegrown global trading platform, Marketmaker. The regulatory obligations incumbent on the financial sector mean that it has to store several terabytes of data a day according to guidelines set out by the Sarbanes Oxley and Basel II financial regulations.

Greg Gawthorpe is technical operations team leader at CMC Markets. The technical operations department is primarily responsible for disk-to-disk-to-tape operations which provide nearline storage for speedy restores to Marketmaker from a 40 terabyte Nexsan SATAbeast SAN using Bakbone Netvault, as well as longer-term archiving. What portion of your overall IT budget is accounted for by storage?

Greg Gawthorpe: Since I joined 18 months ago we have spent a lot of time simply getting storage sorted – finding out what's there, getting backup into shape and developing consistent processes. At the same time the business has been growing at rates of up to 50% per year and IT has to rise to match that because we are an IT-intensive business. About half of our budget in technical operations is storage related.

What technologies will you invest in over the coming year?

Gawthorpe: We are working out whether to invest in data deduplication technologies. We've carried out some assessment of products already and the results have been encouraging. In the next couple of months we will make a decision but it's not just the technical characteristics of particular solutions we need to look at but the spin-off effects on our processes.

Data deduplication offers the possibility of such a high degree of compression that it could really change the way we deal with storage and do backups, perhaps even being able to do away with them on a daily basis and move to replication. There are lots of ideas floating around at the moment so currently we are weighing up our options.

As our production site expends we are also developing our DR site and planning a second one. Key investments here will mostly consist of extra tape and robots, but this will be simply a process of expansion.

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