Telematics firm builds datacentres on Compellent hybrid flash

Pan-European telematics firm Masternaut builds active-active datacentres on hybrid flash arrays with automated tiered storage from Dell Compellent to cope with a 5x growth in data

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Telematics provider Masternaut has built twin active-active datacentres on Dell Compellent hybrid flash arrays.

The project, which cost “multi-single-digit millions” of pounds, has allowed Masternaut to deal with a five times growth in data with no extra staff and has boosted disaster recovery capabilities to near real time.

Masternaut is a pan-European operation that operates on a software-as-a-service basis, in which its customers can access telematics information for a range of applications including: fleet vehicle data from gritting lorries to refrigerated transport, delivery services, and consumer car insurance vehicle monitoring.

Customers include G4S, Travis Perkins and Balfour Beatty. Masternaut operates around 300,000 devices on its own in-house developed Linux-based applications with customer access via a web portal.

Masternaut had run four datacentres with 200TB of data in Dell Compellent SC40 arrays, but a decision was made to consolidate to two active datacentres in the UK and France, said CTO Alex Rothwell.\

There was also a desire to improve disaster recovery provision with near real-time failover, but pushing the company towards the move was also the need to maintain acceptable latency figures in the face of huge data growth and a newly-developed telematics platform.

“We were seeing a large increase in the number of mobile assets and the volume of data; something like a five times increase over three years," said Rothwell. "With access times, to ensure good customer experience, we wanted to achieve sub-5µsec latency.”

Masternaut upgraded its Dell Compellent storage to four SC8000 arrays totalling around 400TB, which used the Storage Center 6.3 operating system (OS). About 5% of capacity comprises flash drives with SAS and SATA, making up the remaining tiers of fast disk and bulk storage respectively, with data moved between them according to policies based on age of data.

Storage Center 6.3 was announced in November 2012 and became available in March 2013. Its enhancements included 16Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity, 64-bit addressing and multi-processor, multi-threading capability. In June this year, Dell upgraded Storage Center further to version 6.4 in a move it claimed made the OS fully flash-ready.

Dell Compellent won out in large part because it was the incumbent storage array supplier to Masternaut, explained Rothwell, but a full market evaluation was carried out and, “there were no major gaps between Compellent and anyone else.”

The key benefits have been to enable better disaster recovery provision and to facilitate improved services to customers without the need to take on more staff, said Rothwell. 

“We’ve been able to expand across Europe without expanding our hosting support team," he added. "We’re supporting more customers with the same team down to datacentre consolidation, remote management and increased flexibility of the storage.”

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