Western Water avoids drowning in data with storage upgrade

Unified storage system holding 40 terabytes of data including customer information, aerial images and water metering project data

Victorian water authority, Western Water, has implemented a new 256TB capacity storage system to cope with 50 per cent year on year data growth, in part fuelled by a state-wide smart meter project aimed at better understanding water usage.

The authority, which is based in Sunbury, Victoria, on the outskirts of Melbourne, also needed to store data such as billing details of its 150,000 customers. In total, Western Water’s data is growing at 40 terabytes per year.

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Western Water will be using the Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) to store data it is currently gathering, along with the state’s 12 other water authorities, into customer water usage. The project is part of the Victorian government's Sustainable Water Strategies which includes water management. As part of the project, Western Water is collecting information from water meters installed at 150,000 customer's houses including the amount of water people are using and what purposes they are using it for--such as in washing machines.

“We plan to review these water usage results later in the year and try to educate people on best water usage practices because while Victoria has plenty of water at the moment, 12 months ago water was a real issue because of the Victorian droughts,” Western Water IT operations architect, Jeff Smith, told Computerworld Australia.

According to Smith, it looked at a number of storage systems before implementing the HUS offering in May 2012 because of its high density storage capability. The HUS replaced an adaptable modular storage (AMS) system it was using. Western Water has had a storage partnership with Hitachi for the past eight years.

“We wanted an offering that we could manage over time without having to constantly go back and purchase more storage,” he said.

“In the western districts of Melbourne there is a lot of housing development taking place so we need to prepare for that influx of customer information,” he said.

Smith added that the water authority looked at hosting data in a private Cloud but this proved to be too expensive. In addition, he could not get an uptime guarantee from Cloud vendors that Western Water’s data sets would be available 24/7.

“If you’re within the Melbourne central business district, you have the fantastic broadband infrastructure in the ground but we don’t have that in the remote locations we’re dealing with,” he said.

“We can’t store 40 terabytes [of data] in the Cloud because the reliability is not there,” he said.

However, once the National Broadband Network (NBN) was rolled out, and the authority could get a guaranteed reliability of service, Smith said it would re-examine hosting some data in a private Cloud.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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