How global companies are consolidating storage.


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Whirlpool built one central storage area network (SAN) based on IBM Shark technology and simultaneously put in an integrated global frame/relay network, yanking the hodgepodge of networks previously used. The upgrades let the company run its applications centrally, giving users a larger bandwidth for accessing and using data. At the same time, storage data was moved off the network and onto a SAN big enough to handle a little more than 40TB of data.

Haney is contemplating building a remote site that would mirror his central data center in real time. The big sticking point is connectivity. Haney is examining his options--including dark fiber--but is still daunted by the costs. "We will need a heck of a lot more connectivity than we do between business locations because we'll be moving vast truckloads of data in real time," he says.

While it's taken the company seven years to build its centralized infrastructure, Haney says that the cost savings have made the effort worthwhile. The company took $8 million out of its budget just by consolidating its four data centers, and another $12 million was saved with the network consolidation. "It was an easy decision," says Haney. "And oh, by the way, now we can buy the newest technology rather than having to wait."

MasterCard: the hybrid
MasterCard has been busy: Its 300TB data center in St. Louis is only a couple years old. The credit card giant

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is moving and rebuilding its disaster recovery site, as well as moving its Australian and European data centers, which comprise another 150TB of storage. This activity is part of a global storage management strategy put together by MasterCard's Global IT operations. By standardizing policies, procedures and technologies across data centers, MasterCard will have taken the first step to global storage management. 2

Since 1999, MasterCard has been adding 100TB of storage yearly. Jim Hall, vice president of engineering services, realized that they needed to articulate a global storage policy. So, the company built the St. Louis center, with its multiple SANs running EMC storage devices, and is now concentrating on disseminating the strategy company wide. The reasoning? "We get a much better deal through volume buying," says Hall. Secondly, by using standard technologies and implementing them in a uniform manner, the company increases interoperability amongst its data centers. This is particularly important in light of the fact that all three of the global data centers will eventually back up to the one disaster recovery data center being built at an undisclosed site in New York.

It also means it's easier to implement storage management tools globally because the underlying technology is similar. Hall plans to use a storage resource management tool to do resource allocation between the primary site and the disaster recovery data center. He doesn't do that in Europe and Australia yet, but could if the decision is made. "As we're building out in Europe, the network architecture will be standardized so that if we need to do remote operations from St. Louis we could," he says.

The next step is to analyze the company's storage to see whether they're keeping the right data for the right amount of time. "We're looking at things like what we're storing, for how long, who has access, how many copies of it there are," says Hall. "We need to analyze what we've done and make sure that past practices are valid and what kind of improvements we need to make."

Evans & Sutherland: local works best
For employees at Evans & Sutherland (E&S), Salt Lake City, UT, being close to their data is more than just a wish--it's a business imperative. That's because they create customized, 3-D computer graphics for simulation, training, engineering and other applications throughout the world. E&S' complex computer graphics are used for military and commercial training, including systems for air, sea and land simulation, for example.

Each project generates a ton of data, says Derek Brawdy, senior systems administrator. Projects can range in size from 300GB to 3TB of data--small wonder that this $500 million company has almost 25TB of storage.

The sheer bulk of the applications under development mean that Brawdy must eschew a centralized storage plan in favor of more localized storage. "We just cannot do some of these things over distance," he says. "The projects are too large to think about storing remotely."

So Brawdy runs three separate data centers--one in Salt Lake City, UT, one in Horsham, England, and one in Orlando, FL, where E&S does a lot of work. All three centers run HP-based SANs, but aren't interlinked as far as replication goes. "We don't have a reason to remotely replicate back and forth," says Brawdy. Instead, each data center backs up to a tape library. In fact, remote backup could hinder the work being done. Brawdy gives the example of a 3-D simulation graphic of a system used to train pilots for desert flying. "The data being used to stitch together the final product is in use 24 x 7 as we build the product, and it's a long and intensive process to back up remotely," he points out.

Brawdy likes the balance SANs give him--he can place the storage close to users who need to access it, but at the same time gives him the ability to remotely administer the data with some ease.

Interestingly, his Salt Lake City SAN is decentralized. The E&S campus had a lot of pre-laid dark fiber and small raised floor spaces scattered amongst the buildings, so Brawdy took advantage of the setup. He interconnected 16 SAN switches into the existing fiber, allowing him to distribute his storage infrastructure across the campus.

This was first published in April 2003

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