Suncorp overhauls storage

New NetApp set up will reduce storage TCO by 40 per cent, improve back up and recovery

Suncorp has overhauled its storage strategy rolling out a new consolidated its storage environment in conjunction with partner NetApp.

The implementation will see the company reduce its data centres from three locations to two, with the pre-production and production data centres linked by IP-SAN.

The implementation has also seen Suncorp virtualise its core and aggregation layers with Cisco Nexus 7000 switches.

The overhaul has seen the company rip out product from EMC, Hitachi, HDS and IBM and replaced it with a Netapp Flexible Storage platform, which also includes some IBM product.

The rollout is part of the integration of the Promina Group which the company acquired in 2007 and was largely a response to ballooning data growth, according to Paul Cameron, executive general manager for business technology infrastructure at Suncorp.

“Storage [requirements] were doubling every year, but happening in the business units so it was a bit disguised and the cost was owned by the business units,” he said. “Allocating a provisioning storage was slow and cumbersome and there was an enormous amount of wastage and white space.”

According to Cameron the company had just 22 per cent utilisation on average on its fibre channel connected network. With the flexible storage platform it is expected to be 60-65 per cent utilisation. Storage provisioning is expect to be reduced from weeks down to days, or even hours depending on the complexity of the set up.

On top of about a 40 per cent reduction in total cost of ownership, according to Cameron, the new storage set up was already deliver noticeable benefits.

“Last week we had a major database failure which would have taken probably 48 hours to restore, but we did it in two hours,” he said. “We can restore mailboxes in minutes on our Exchange servers. We use SnapVault to send data down to cheaper SATA disk then archive it on tap and move it off site, so we can also send data to cheaper places and reducing the cost of ownership of that data.”

The storage overhaul had also provided a holistic view and improvement to the company’s back up and recovery capability, Cameron said.

“In reality probably 40 percent of back ups never work and you don’t back up 10 per cent of your platforms as you simply don’t know they’re there or they’re too complex,” he said. “By having a strategic direction for your storage, and dovetailing that into your server and network platforms you can curtail [back up issues] At last analysis we were running at a four per cent failure rate in restoring data.”

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