Energy trader rolls out three-tier storage infrastructure to improve performance

Energy trading firm EDF Trading was last weekend (27 May) set to switch to a new, tiered storage infrastructure, developed by BT....

Energy trading firm EDF Trading was last weekend (27 May) set to switch to a new, tiered storage infrastructure, developed by BT.

EDF said the system would enable it to deal with its data more efficiently, achieve better application performance, and provide a future-proofed storage network.

EDF Trading, whose parent company distributes electricity to London and the South East, has grown from a 14-person firm in 2000 to employ 250 staff worldwide. Managing information efficiently is essential to the company, which relies on up-to-the- minute trading information for its daily business.

The expansion has caused data volumes to grow from 60Gbytes to tens of terabytes in three years. To handle further growth, EDF signed a deal to work with BT over the next five-years to develop, maintain and expand the three-tier storage system. 

EDF's storage infrastructure is based around Cisco switches and EMC storage devices, all of which are mirrored at a disaster recovery centre. The top tier consists of mirrored EMC DMX 1000 high-speed disc arrays for storing essential daily data.

Resilient, but expensive, the DMX 1000s give EDF the highest availability of all its data platforms, said Shane Turner, technical support and infrastructure manager at EDF Trading. 

The middle tier is based on EMC Clariion storage products. It includes fibre channel discs, with flat file data served by an EMC Celera file server, which is also mirrored at the disaster recovery site. 

At the lowest tier, EDF is using archiving ATA discs on an EMC Clariion array. "We take the production data that has become stale, and move it down through an automated process using Legato Diskxtender and Emailxtender, auto-scavenging for flat files and archiving. This keeps our expensive disc ready and available," said Turner.  

EDF uses a client-server architecture based on HP servers running Microsoft Windows Server 2005 with Active Directory, an Oracle database, and Biztalk. It is also using VMWare's virtual server technology. 


Virtual servers save space and money

EDF Trading has made further efficiencies through server consolidation using VMWare emulation software. In the past it had up to five servers per application, including test, development and disaster recovery servers.

“VMWare brings on files as they are required, and we do not lose any rack space. Space is a premium for us," said Turner. "In some instances we have brought 40 test servers down to four. Cost savings are brought about by the uptime that has been given back to the company, and the fact that applications are working 24x7.”

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