Peter Borich had a classic IT situation on his hands.
“We wanted to move from storage management to data management,” says Borich,
Associate Director - ITS at New Zealand’s Victoria University.
“About three and a half years ago we knew that to meet ongoing demand we could not go on with the way we were managing storage.”
Borich’s problems were caused by what he calls “the classic windows based file servers with local direct-attach. Demand [for storage] was outstripping our capacity to manage it and going forward we did not want to continue with that architecture. We had a few failures and it just was not scalable.”
The University had no tools conduct capacity planning and also lacked storage professionals. “Storage administration was done by classic sysadmins who dabbled in storage,” Borich recalls. New Zealand’s Public Records Act was another impetus, as it requires long-term archiving of data and emails. The nature of modern research a further reason for better storage management, as many academics now create large quantities of data that must be preserved.
Yet the scattered storage infrastructure provided by the University’s various departments was not always robust enough to safeguard that data, leading Borich to conceive a plan to offer centralised storage services. “We knew we had a lot of storage we wanted to bring in house [to the IT team] to manage better,” he says. “We had a silo mentality and there was some lack of trust in the IT group,” but central storage would, he hoped, turn users around with better service.
“We had a build it and they will come” approach, he says.
Borich assessed several vendors’ wares and eventually settled on EMC as the University’s preferred vendor, as he felt its information lifecycle management approach met the institution’s needs.
The University therefore invested in a CLARiiON DX380 SAN storage area network plus a Celerra NAS and a disk library. Production data resides on the SAN or NAS, the disk library is used for backups. Clones of the disk library are eventually made to tape for long-term archives. A Centerra appliance is also used for some archives.
A disaster recovery site – Borich says the city of Wellington sits on a significant fault line – contains another Celerra and CLARiiON, with realtime replication between the two sites.
Borich’s plans have since borne fruit: users from around the University have come to appreciate the superior storage services and his team has gone from managing 20 terabytes of storage to 100 terabytes.
“We had a value offering,” he says. “We would go to departments and say: ‘Why are you doing this? We can do it for you!’”
Borich and his team are now planning a revision of the University’s storage systems. Despite the fact it operates a central shared service, chargeback is not on the agenda. But Borich is considering data deduplication to get data growth under control.