Flight Centre backs up for growth strategy

Travel agency The Flight Centre has completed a two-phase project in which it completely redesigned its storage infrastructure.

Undertaken to meet the company's rapid growth, the project started in April 2003.

Flight Centre technical services manager Geoff Tyerman said that because it was the company's single largest IT purchase, staff researched storage area networks (SANs) well before tenders were called for.

The contract was awarded to Hitachi Data Systems which completed the infrastructure redesign and partnered with Cisco, Quantum and CommVault.

Tyerman said Hitachi won ahead of bids from IBM and EMC.

He said the centre needed an integrated solution for its AIX, Windows and Red Hat environments.

"Hitachi understood our business goals which is to accommodate high levels of customer service," he said. Without capital costs, Tyerman estimates the project cost $150,000 to $200,000 in people resources alone.

However, he said it was an ideal opportunity to review the agency's disaster recovery strategy.

“We haven’t had any problems yet in this area, but we need to run at a very high uptime with some of our new applications and felt we needed to act on this,” Tyerman said.

He said the organization decided to synchronously replicate business-critical data using Hitachi TrueCopy to Hitachi Data Systems' purpose-built data centre in Queensland.

Flight Centre also took a recovery centric approach to its backup, implementing the Hitachi Thunder 9500V and CommVault Galaxy Backup & Recovery Software allowing Flight Centre to recover deleted files in minutes instead of hours.

For the storage network, Tyerman said the company wanted a single-vendor strategy so it could leverage its existing skill sets. Working with Hitachi, Flight Centre selected the Cisco Systems MDS 9509 fibre channel director to reduce storage management overheads.

Hitachi Data Systems Australia general manager Michael Cremen said the solution had to be bullet-proof because the Flight Centre is adding a new retail outlet somewhere in the world every 20 working hours and this rate of growth isn't expected to change in the near future.

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