Many IT people are on the fence about automated storage management, but at Allegra Systems in Piscataway, NJ, there's no doubt that automatic file migration software has cut down on the IT staff's workload.
Allegra is a reseller and applications service provider (ASP) that offers the legal, financial services and construction industries Internet-based access to industry- specific applications such as project and content management software. "These are expensive applications that companies are sometimes reluctant to buy outright," says George Farrall, Allegra's executive vice president of business development. Then after about a year using the hosted service, most subscribers bring the application in-house.
In the meantime, Allegra's customers accumulate a lot of files. Already, Allegra has 1.8TB of data, stored largely on network-attached storage (NAS) devices from Compaq and Maxtor, as well as on high-performance Windows 2000 and soon, Solaris servers.
All along, one of Allegra's challenges has been moving infrequently accessed files off of its servers and onto large, slow NAS boxes, "our dead-end storage area." Until last August, when Allegra went live with automatic file migration software Auto-stor from Arkivio, that was a manual process. "Before, [moving files around] was a lot of guess work, but even worse, we had to remember where we put things," says Farrall.
Things got especially problematic at times when a client would request a file that hadn't been accessed in a while--for example, because a lawyer reopened a long-closed case. To ensure good performance, Allegra staff would manually restore it to a high-performance server. But since installing Auto-stor, "we really don't have to do anything anymore," Farrall says, because the software automatically migrates data back based on predetermined policies.
Another thing Allegra's staff doesn't have to do anymore is field pages from TeamQuest, a performance and capacity management package that Allegra used to keep abreast of file systems that were running out of space. With Auto-stor monitoring capacity metrics, file systems rarely get overloaded, even though Allegra has an almost reckless storage utilization rate of 90%.
Sooner rather than later, Allegra will have to purchase more storage, and here too, Auto-stor comes into play. Allegra runs the software's reporting and needs assessments utilities monthly to help it plan its hardware acquisitions. According to Farrell, it was these reporting features that "were really the slam dunk that led us to buy the system."