Bon voyage to storage silos

Project includes SAN, DR plan and VoIP

Creating a centralized SAN network for its 26 sites scattered across the country from Uluru to the Kimberley, the Great Barrier Reef and Tasmania, was no small feat for eco-tourism operator Voyages Hotels and Resorts.

The SAN replaced its previous system, which required night staff in remote locations, to back up client data to tape.

Voyages now has a centralized SAN network and three Sydney-based data centres.

It follows a review of storage operations across its 26 sites and was the operator's biggest IT project in 2006, according to Voyages general manager of IT and telecommunications, Gregory Hucker.

He said the review also led to the introduction of a disaster recovery plan, and a VoIP network.

"Every one of the 26 points into the WAN had its own local devices on site," Hucker said. "Every application had a server and localized storage attached, which is obviously poor visibility for IT and management."

Hucker said the nature of the project meant he had to prove the "inherent risk of the current solution," rather than sell ROI figures to the board.

"We avoided selling ROIs to the board because we wanted to show that we were relying on night staff to change tapes and ensure backups were successful," he said.

"Running a full day of business on our largest property, which houses 1000 rooms, meant we couldn't afford to back up the next day."

After six months of planning, funds were made available for the company to issue a "very unique and heavy" tender to nut-out details and choose a vender.

Hucker said the deal went to Hitachi who requested details about Voyager's storage capacity requirements.

"We couldn't provide the details or answer with any accuracy; wehad so much storage spread so far that it was uncontrollable," Hucker said.

Most sites are now live. Sydney has been operational for almost 12 months and Cairns will be operational by February 15, 2007.

"We aren't fully centralized even though we are heading down that path because not all of our communications equipment can support the SAN. This means a few sites run a local Network Access Server, hard drives and servers," he said.

According to Hucker, administrative over-heads are now 30 to 40 per cent lower, which he attributes to thorough planning, intelligent software and professional partnerships.

"You can blow out your project if you don't do your homework," he added.

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