News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Oregon gives old storage the boot, consolidates SANs

To consolidate 11 data centers into one to save money and energy, the state of Oregon revamped every piece of its storage infrastructure.

A massive storage overhaul played a key role in Oregon's statewide data center consolidation that demonstrates how a large IT initiative can save money and serve as a model for green computing.

Back in 2003, when the state decided to consolidate 11 data centers into one, the goal was to save more than $10 million a year in power and equipment. Oregon set out to virtualize storage, servers and applications, and standardize its technologies, rather than having a mismatch of products and vendors for each state agency. By the time the project is completed in 2009, it will likely reduce the carbon footprint by 30% as well.

More on green storage
Special Report: Green storage

Companies try green storage strategies to reduce power consumption

Green storage gains ground

IBM chief engineer talks green storage
"Originally in 2003, the goal was to provide the same service, but at a much lower price," said Mark Reyer, administrator for the state's data center. "It was also an opportune time because the data centers were old and facing a major capital upgrade. But as time went on and we hit 2005, like everybody else, our governor had a major green initiative throughout the state. Since then, the primary drivers have been saving power and reduced cooling -- a great example of a green data center."

Construction of the new 45,000-square-foot building housing the data center was completed in late 2005. In 2006, Oregon's IT staff moved all the network and storage components into the data center. "This year we started architecture design and standardization, and virtualization of storage," Reyer said. Although that part of the initiative won't be completed until 2009, Reyer's team has had to keep everything running during the transition.

Reyer said the state estimates the consolidation reduced power by 30% to 35%, while improving compute efficiencies. And there may be more to come. "We're confident we could hit another 30% to 35% reduction by going even greener with blades, SANs and consolidating our footprint on mainframes and unit boxes," he said.

The building and project costs came to around $43 million, but Reyer estimates the state will hit its savings goal after the project is completed. "We're locked in on our target to save $10 million to $12 million a year," he said.

The state had more than 11 SANs, each designed around specific applications before the consolidation. Reyer said the data center consisted of "quite the array of everything. We had several flavors of architectures -- SANs, NAS, every brand you could possibly think of on the disk side. On the tape side, we had seven different media for tapes and 20 different backup and recovery programs." He called it "quite the Noah's ark of everything that's ever come out."

Oregon still uses some of its legacy platforms to keep the data center running during the transition. But it is standardizing across the board as it adds equipment and migrates data off old systems. Oregon uses Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) storage arrays with Cisco Systems SAN switches, QLogic host bus adapters (HBAs) and blade servers, tape libraries and virtual tape libraries (VTLs) from IBM, as well as IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for backup.

In some cases, Oregon stuck with one of the vendors it was using and eliminated others. Before the consolidation, it had SAN arrays from HDS, EMC Corp., IBM and NetApp. Reyer thought the HDS Universal Storage Platform was the best for a large infrastructure and liked its virtualization capabilities and the way it handled the boot from the SAN strategy that the state had implemented.

Oregon replaced a few switches from McData Corp. and Brocade Communication Systems Inc. devices with Cisco MDS9513 directors. Reyer said he was unsure of the roadmap for McData switches after Brocade acquired its rival, and Oregon already used Cisco networking switches. "We're not sure what the future of the McData business is, and single vendor strategies are important for us," he said. He also found the virtual SANs (VSAN) that Cisco uses are handy for segregating services inside the SAN for specific agencies.

Reyer said switching to LTO-4 tape drives next year with larger capacity will help consolidate his tape library. "We'll be out of the cassette and archive business," he said. "We have enough capacity on our automatic library."

The ability to boot off the SAN was another key piece of the consolidation strategy. It was also one that concerned Reyer until implementation. "Booting from the SAN wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought," he said. "The only problem was, we had issues with HBAs not finding the SANs if there was a hard crash. There was a problem with the QLogic HBA on the IBM blade centers. But we got that straightened out, and it was amazingly smooth."

Reyer said he found one other tool that he wouldn't want to live without. "Tivoli License Compliance Manager has been a godsend ," he said. "When you inherit everything, you don't know what you have."

Dig Deeper on SAN technology and arrays

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.