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Stock exchange bullish on SAN

Editor's note: This is the last in a series of five articles highlighting the recent Storage Innovator award winners. Archipelago took home honorable mention accolades, April 10 at the Storage Management 2003 conference in Chicago.

At seven years old, Archipelago is the new kid on the stock exchange block. The kid has quickly mastered the game the older kids, like the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq, have played for more than a hundred years. Archipelago is now the second largest stock exchange in the world. To get to that level of the game, however, Archipelago had to dump its direct-attached storage (DAS).

Chicago-based Archipelago has prospered by playing the old stock exchange game under new rules: creating the first open, all-electronic stock exchange. Eliminating the stock trader on the floor has streamlined the trading process for Archipelago's customers, both sellers and buyers. However, retaining those customers and complying with national regulatory requirements demands an enterprise system that breaks some of the old rules for data storage. Steve Rubinow, Archipelago's chief technology officer, thinks his new storage area network (SAN) does just that.

Archipelago relied on DAS for the first six years of its existence. It wasn't long after joining the company that Rubinow realized the old storage strategy wasted money and lacked manageability and scalability.

In the original strategy, islands of dedicated storage arrays handled applications

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and server groups. Rubinow quickly suspected that this "island" approach delivered low, uneven storage utilization. That architecture also made the system hard to manage.

"The approach had been to buy a little bit of storage for each application," said Rubinow. The company constantly ordered new disks, "but the disks we had were not being fully utilized."

Rubinow scheduled a system analysis by EMC Corp., one of Archipelago's storage vendors. EMC discovered that the firm was only utilizing 30% of its disk space.

With that report in hand, Rubinow decided that storage had to be viewed as a single resource, rather than as islands of resources. "We needed to leverage storage across vendors and across applications," he said.

In designing the company's new storage architecture, Rubinow identified three major challenges. First of all, key applications needed very high levels of service, particularly in the areas of reliability, security and disaster recovery. The second challenge was planning for and supporting the dynamic, and sometimes unpredictable, growth of applications. Finally, Rubinow had to find a storage solution that was innovative and effective enough to maintain Archipelago's technology-driven competitive edge -- without breaking its budget.

In designing the new system, Rubinow tied together software from Veritas Software and Hitachi Data Systems; linked new hardware from Hitachi with legacy EMC and Hewlett-Packard machines; and connectivity tools from Brocade.

Using tools from Veritas, Rubinow gets automatic reports on allocation levels, which allows him to purchase additional storage on a "just-in-time" basis.

Archipelago needs high-performance and high-capacity storage capabilities for its stock exchange processes. After evaluations, Rubinow chose and implemented Hitachi Data Systems Lightning 9900 storage arrays. The Hitachi system added 8 terabytes (TB) of storage capacity to the existing base of HP and EMC arrays.

The new SAN utilizes a private wide network (WAN). Rubinow added Brocade SilkWorm 12000 core fabric switches to the design, providing 128-port switch capacity across the Chicago and New York sites. For resiliency, all hosts have dual Fibre Channel connection.

With SAN replication of data between sites now possible, Rubinow created the flexibility to add disaster recovery capabilities, replication of critical data and speed enhancements without any downtime while the exchange is online.

Measuring return on investment (ROI) for the new SAN hasn't been a top priority for a company that's always pushing on to the challenge. "Because we are such an entrepreneurial company, we like to move quickly," said Rubinow. "We're certain if we stopped to measure ROI, it would be in the triple digits."

Thanks to the SAN, however, it's been easy to gauge utilization improvements. Rubinow believes that the results -- storage utilization levels of 85% on the Hitachi array -- validate the decision to dump DAS.

For more information on Archipelago, visit its Web site.

Additional information on Veritas can be found here.

Read the rest of the articles on this Spring's Storage Innovator award winners.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC:

>> Seven steps for building and scaling storage networks

>> Networked storage to oust DAS, tape to thrive

>> The benefits of SAN


This was first published in May 2003

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