Manufacturer boosts bandwidth with Silver Peak WAN optimisation

Symphony Group gets 50% bandwidth boost and cuts RPO from hours to seconds with Silver Peak VRX-4 WAN optimisation

UK furniture maker Symphony Group has deployed Silver Peak WAN VRX-4 acceleration software and reduced its recovery point objective (RPO) from hours to seconds. The move has also allowed the company to get its systems up and running in a disaster recovery scenario in six hours, down from 24 hours.

Symphony is the UK’s largest privately owned maker of kitchen, bathroom and bedroom furniture and has its primary datacentre at Barnsley, with a secondary location 90 miles south at an IBM site in Warwick.

Its primary datacentre infrastructure comprises 20 physical servers and around 160 VMware virtual machines running Oracle-based ERP applications, Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange email.

The need for WAN optimisation arose when a storage technology refresh saw Symphony’s existing IBM N-Series (re-badged NetApp) arrays replaced by IBM XIV storage.

Symphony’s IT team, led by group IT manager Ruth Rew, tried to implement replication between the two sites using Snap Mirror functionality on the N-Series. But that proved impossible, said the company's technical manager, Craig Monument.

“We tried to use SnapMirror as a replication tool but when the changes were written back to the volume it caused Novell GroupWise to lock up and we suffered email issues every hour. We never found out why.”

Having migrated to IBM XIV arrays, Rew’s team found no issues with its on-board asynchronous replication but found it was having issues with the sheer amount of data it needed to copy to the secondary site.

The company had looked at Riverbed WAN optimisation products, and although it passed proof of concept testing for function, it proved too costly.

Symphony also looked at Replify, which, said Monument, “used a protocol called WCCP that was not configured on our network. It would have been a considerable effort to configure it, especially if we had not eventually chosen to deploy Replify.”

Monument also said Symphony invited Bridgeworks in, but were told by the company’s CTO that the product was suited to much higher bandwidth use cases.

Symphony eventually settled on Silver Peak VRX-4 WAN optimisation software, which runs as a virtual machine in VMware and reduces the volume of traffic between the company’s sites. VRX-4 offers a maximum rate limit of 100Mbps and averages 250GB per hour throughput.

Silver Peak’ sVRX software products use its Virtual Acceleration Open Architecture (VXOA). VRX software runs on all standard hypervisors, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and KVM.

The VRX family ranges from the VRX-2 to the VRX-8, via the VRX-4 and VRX-6.

Performance scales from a maximum rate limit of 20 Mbps and 50 GB per hour of replication traffic on the VRX-2 to 1 Gbps and 2 TB per hour on the VRX-8.

Monument said the company has achieved data reduction of 90% on XIV array replication and between 40% to 60% on Oracle Data Guard backups. He said the 100Mbps connection between sites has effectively become 150Mbps.

Rew said recovery point objective times are down from around 24 hours to 20 seconds for data.

“Silver Peak means we can deliver a recovery point within seconds or minutes of a disaster," she said. 

"We’re not a financial institution so we don’t need fault tolerance but we are pretty advanced for a manufacturer. We’ve gone from 24 hour recovery to having the ability to be totally up and running at the secondary site within six hours with loss of only a few seconds’ data.”

Partly host-based replication but most is array-based asynchronous replication between identical IBM XIV arrays.

Read more on Data protection, backup and archiving