Small uni team tackles big storage demands

Andrew Crow, chief information officer of University of Notre Dame in Western Australia, says readying his team for a major storage implementation was a big consideration.

The university has just completed a large backup and information lifecycle project.

"Ideally, if there was one thing I could do differently with these types of projects it would be more preparation; the pressures on the team are big, so I would love to give them the heads-up in capabilities before these projects begin.

"We have a small team, it's hard to be technology gurus and advocates in all the different areas that we have to cover," Crow said.

Crow and his small band of IT professionals have just reorganized server and network architectures, which involved improving back-up and archiving capabilities.

The university has some 5000 students and operates campuses in Fremantle, Broome and from 2006 in Sydney.

"It doesn't take many students to suddenly have a requirement for several terabytes of disk," Crow said.

"Also, one of the things we have been keen to do is to migrate inactive data off our network, because staff and students typically have data with varying access lifecycles.

Crow realized that any new systems chosen to help solve this problem had to integrate with the existing disk infrastructure.

"The university infrastructure had a fragmented history, with a series of point solutions that were all different, so there wasn't a lot of scalability; the goal was to take control of this environment," Crow said.

After considering several vendors the university selected StorageTek's SL500 technology, now sold by Sun Microsystems as the Sun StorEdge L500 tape library.

"We needed something that had significant scalability but would let us get started within our current budget," Crow said adding that the solution is a standard 19-inch rack solution.

Implementation started in March this year, and the university is already using three of the L500's 18 possible drives, which provide access to a total storage capacity of more than 60TB for backup and archiving, more than four times its former disk capacity.

"At current expansion rates, we envisage our disk capacity doubling on almost an annual basis," Crow said.

"Today, we have about two and a half years of automated tape capacity."

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