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Archiving project saves Motorola big bucks

OuterBay gets past black belt Six Sigma experts at Motorola to win an archiving contract that will save the telecom equipment giant a ton of cash.

Two years ago, Motorola Inc., one of the world's largest telecom equipment suppliers, gave its IT organization strict instructions: Reduce future purchases of production storage, and reduce the cost of managing data.

No mean feat when data volumes keep growing and so does the cost of managing it. Bill Brewer, PCS global IT configuration manager, was part of a team responsible for making this happen. The PCS (personal communications services) division includes all of Motorola's GSM devices worldwide and reaches over 100 million customers.

Cutting a long story short, Brewer had to collapse three data centers -- in China, Scotland and Brazil -- into a single data center in Chicago and migrate the data from each of these to the central location. He went from managing 60 servers down to 16 and from using Sun Microsystems Inc. storage to consolidating everything on EMC Corp.'s Symmetrix arrays.

Consolidating the hardware saved the company a ton of money -- so much that he wasn't permitted to reveal the figure. This centralized approach helped reduce the cost of managing the data, as it was no longer sprawled out all over the world. But it didn't address the issue of how to lower the amount of storage Motorola would need to buy in the future. Its data rate would continue to grow at the same pace, with or without a centralized approach to management.

Pieces of the puzzle

To tackle this piece of the puzzle, the company researched archiving solutions. Over the next six years, Motorola projected it would need to increase its production capacity by approximately 23 TB. Then it found that by using archiving software, it would be able to reduce that amount to around 10 TB. "That 13 TB was all overhead," Brewer noted. Instead of leaving this non-production data on primary storage, Motorola archived it to another set of disks and was subsequently able to reduce its indexing overhead. "We have hundreds and hundreds of indexes that cause a major hit on the machines each time we run a search," Brewer said.

By archiving 75% of its data, Brewer said the company has seen up to a 68% increase in the throughput of its database application. "When reaching capacity, it's better to archive or put data on a cheaper disk. Otherwise, we're permanently swapping out EMC DMX arrays for bigger ones ... we're trying to get away from that and into better data management," Brewer explained.

Down the road, Motorola plans to move to Oracle 11i, which will mean additional modules and more data. The company is looking at eventually bringing in EMC's Centera and Clariion for archival data and low-cost storage, respectively.

Integration challenges

Motorola's IT operations are outsourced to Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC), which made it more challenging for Brewer to get the job done. "Procuring time with DBAs was difficult," he said. He also ran into some problems with the way disks had been configured in the past. "Disks were six-way striped or three-way striped, and concatenated, which made it much longer to archive than we planned." The striping problem relates to the way the DBAs added more space to the system. According to Brewer, their system should have been four-way striped across the board.

The problem forced Motorola to take its ERP application offline while the archive took place. In the future, he said both the database and the application will be up and running while the archive occurs. "We won't be doing three years' worth of data; just one to two months, which will make a big difference," he noted.

The company evaluated a few firms selling archiving wares, including Princeton Softech Inc., which was "too mainframe-orientated" for its needs and Applimation Inc., which was "too customizable and offered nothing that actually plugged in," according to Brewer. The product it did end up purchasing was Cupertino, Calif.-based OuterBay Technologies Inc.'s Application Data Management software.

Michael Howard, CEO of OuterBay, is particularly chuffed about this win as Motorola are the inventors of Six Sigma, an initiative to drive cost and efficiency within an organization. GE uses it among other global corporations. "It means they really put our product through its paces before buying it," Howard said, noting that experts at Six Sigma are called black belts. "You don't mess with these people," he said. Hiyah!

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