Storage upgrade goes beyond liquid assets at Barwon

Barwon Water's $500,000 storage solution

With only 320 employees, Barwon Water provides quality water and sewerage services to a permanent population of 250,000 people across an area of more than 8100 square kilometres, while managing 10 major water storage units, 10 water treatment plants and nine sewerage treatment facilities.

This makes the organization the largest regional urban water authority in Victoria and one with significant storage needs.

Escalating storage management costs and a need for improved application availability resulted in Barwon Water's decision to implement a centralised storage solution.

The cost of managing separate islands of storage in a Windows and Solaris environment was growing and downtime in core applications, such as customer billing, was becoming harder to tackle.

In response to this growing problem, Barwon Water selected a solution from Hitachi Data Systems to alleviate the risk of downtime and enable rapid deployment of new applications.

These included document management, which Hitachi Data Systems promised would be assisted by the heterogenous platform support, performance and scalability of the solution.

Implementation began in February this year and has just reached completion with Barwon Water executive manager of strategy and technology Joe Adanski estimating the project cost nearly half a million dollars.

The performance increase and system stability has been significant, Adanski said.

"In terms of our clients and computer users, they haven't noticed the difference, but from an IT perspective, the ease of migration to the system made life a lot easier."

And as for implementation problems, Adanski simply says there wasn't any.

"I think with good planning and the solution itself, we were able to migrate to Hitachi without any significant difficulties," Adanski said.

Hitachi won the contract in a tender against two server vendors, claiming its combined data recovery experience and ability to offer service and support in regional Victoria made the bid successful.

"We were impressed with Hitachi Data System's ability to demonstrate the value of their storage software and how it could solve our business challenges,' Adanski said.

The solution includes two Thunder 9500V Modular storage arrays separated by 2kms of fibre optic cable, Brocade fibre channel switches, JNI host bus adaptors and Hitachi Data System's TrueCopy synchronous replication software for real-time disaster recovery.

Meta Group senior analyst technology research services Brian Prentice said the Barwon Water implementation is further proof that SMEs face very similar problems to the enterprise.

"When we're looking at the SME space and business value, the value is essentially the same. The challenges that SMEs have to face in the IT world are similar because they often have similar needs," Prentice said.

"And vendors are paying attention to this now. Almost every vendor out there has an SME strategy, and that strategy is 'how do we get a solution out to SMEs at a lower rate?'

"There are more offerings out there. Some of these vendor solutions are good, they make sense. But others are just a reaction to having to provide for the SME market now."

And as for storage requirements and SMEs? Prentice believes that compliance requirements are going to make everyone sit up and consider their storage needs - SMEs included.

"The only people that get a free ride with compliance requirements are the smallest of companies," Prentice said.

"I think all oragnizations now have more data. The problem is that large organizations can throw warm bodies at the problem. You're going to face more constraints however if you're a mid-size company.

"Eventually an SME manager is going to have to make the choice - someone to manage the storage problem, or a bought solution."

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