Logistics firm chooses EMC VNX for virtualisation storage

Logistics firm Crossflight has implemented an EMC VNX storage array to support a virtual server environment and cut power and cooling bills

Slough-based logistics company Crossflight has implemented an EMC VNX mid-range storage array to support its virtual server environment and has reaped savings of 50% on power and cooling costs.

The company chose EMC over HP, IBM and Hitachi Data Systems products following a try-before-you-buy test of the VNX unified storage array.

Crossflight deals with 90% of customer orders via its website. It runs 35 virtual machines on VMware ESX 4.1 for all its core applications – customer relationship management (CRM), operations, internal databases, web booking system and email.

By 2011, the company’s existing SAN – an EMC CX300 – was at the end of life. It was no longer under hardware support and is not supported in VMware’s Vsphere environment.

Following evaluations of products from several storage suppliers, Crossflight deployed an EMC VNX 5100 with 4TB of capacity in 25 300GB and 600GB serial attached SCSI (SAS) drives on a Fibre Channel fabric. The CX300 has been retained as a secondary storage area network (SAN), to which data is replicated.

EMC’s VNX 5100 is the entry-level system in EMC’s mid-range storage device range. It can house up to 75 drives and scale to 150TB with SAN and NAS protocols supported.

We’re betting the company on this system, so we wanted something that would work and that is well supported

Guy Dawson, IT operations manager, Crossflight

Crossflight IT operations manager Guy Dawson said the EMC hardware impressed him in terms of value for money and that his decision was swung by being able to test the device at Crossflight’s premises.

“We’re betting the company on this system, so we wanted something that would work and that is well supported," he said. "EMC was prepared to offer try-before-you-buy, which is good for a small company like ours. We wrote up an acceptance agreement; if conditions X, Y and Z were fulfilled we would accept the product. We put it in, migrated virtual machines (VMs) to it, and it worked.”

Key benefits for Dawson have been reduced power and cooling costs of 50% compared with the old SAN.

“We can see what we’re using in terms of power and cooling from our uninterruptible power supply (UPS). The old SAN had 30 146GB and 300GB 5.5in drives, and now we have 25 2.5in drives, and that accounts for us using half the power and cooling we were previously,” he said.

Storage integration with Vsphere is another key benefit, said Dawson. “The old CX300 didn’t know what it was being used for, but now we can see virtual machines from the EMC management screen and can see the storage from the vSphere screen,” he said.

Read more on SAN, NAS, solid state, RAID