Aussie building company simplifies storage with Compellent

Dealing with large amounts of storage growth Metricon Homes found implemented a new SAN to reduce admin hours and make the most of storage capacity

Having launched 35 years ago, Aussie home building company Metricon Homes has had its fair share of change, both in the business front and with staff.

The company, which has more than 600 staff working across its offices in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, found one of its greatest concerns in the organic data growth that followed its success. More often than not, this growth was coupled with hitting its storage capacity limits and an exorbitant amount of time spent on the maintenance of the storage area networks (SAN).

Former Metricon IT manager, Cameron Smith, said time spent on SAN management was one of the key challenges the company needed to overcome.

“SAN maintenance had become an unacceptable time issue for us, time that could be better spent supporting the business elsewhere,” Smith said. “Faced with these limitations, our only option was to ‘rip and replace’ the existing SAN and transition to a more efficient solution.”

Metricon was using two SANs from EMC - a CX500 and a CX320 - which required quite extensive training for new engineers starting with the company.

Smith highlighted a need for an automated, expandable SAN that could avoid another rip and replace scenario.

“I didn’t want my team to need an advanced degree in storage in order to use the new SAN,” he said. “We needed something that could look after itself as much as possible, ideally automating many of the processes that we would otherwise have to undertake manually.”

Smith considered a number of players in the storage space, including EMC, HP and IBM but following a demonstration settled on a dual controller SAN from Compellent with 20 terabytes (TB) of capacity tiered across one rack, two storage processing units and three shelves of disks.

“Once we fully understood the extent of Compellent’s capabilities around automated tiered storage and thin provisioning, we realised we would be able to overcome all the growth and management limitations we faced with our existing storage provider.

“It was ease of management and how much administration time it takes out of each day that was the bottom line,” Metricon’s current IT manager, Dale Bailey, told Computerworld Australia. “It really does look after itself for the most part, the way it tiers data so things which aren’t accessed get moved to a slower disk and emails daily reports on what isn’t performing and what you can do anything to fix it.”

The IT staff now have the ability to expand volumes online and add capacity “on-the-fly” to accommodate change without disruption or downtime to the business.

The time spent managing storage has dropped by approximately one third since Compellent was deployed, allowing the company to reduce the staff managing the SAN from three to two and delivered an approximate annual saving of $100,000.

Currently, Bailey says the company is looking into disaster recovery with a loose plan to acquire an additional Compellent SAN on a different site to replicate data, but says nothing is concrete at this point in time.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags storageCompellentStorage Area Network (SAN)

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