Anglia Co-operative
Anglia Co-operative

Anglia Co-operative

APSU help ARCS optimise their storage infrastructure Anglia Regional Co-operative Society (ARCS) is the sixth largest Co-operative society in the country with diverse operations driven out of their headquarters in Peterborough. They now sell over £300m of goods in a year and provide employment for over 3700 employees.

The Challenge

ARCS needed to improve the scalability, manageability, flexibility and maintenance of their storage infrastructure and identifi ed that their current document imaging system was out of capacity.

Much of the data for the document imaging system was stored on the optical library, and as such had poor access times for end users. In addition, the recovery of fi les was a manual and highly resource intensive process.

ARCS were using direct attached storage for their server estate, and they acknowledged that this gave them limited proactive capacity management.

A reactive ‘fire fighting’ approach was taken to storage management which resulted in unexpected disk requirements and unbudgeted capital expenditure. Disk capacity was underutilised overall and new servers often needed to be provisioned just to meet capacity requirements.

The Issues

ARCS needed to expand their storage infrastructure to meet current and future requirements; however they wanted to ensure that in the future they would be able to integrate their disparate storage into a centralised system to improve manageability and availability of data.

Key Requirements

ARCS wanted to ensure that:

  • They had a centralised and scalable storage solution capable of meeting both current and future requirements for both the document imaging system and email and file storage
  • Their storage could connect to multiple servers across either Ethernet or Fibre Channel if required
  • They had adequate levels of resilience, with the option to increase this should it be required
  • The storage management interface was simple and intuitive

The Solution

APSU recommended a centralised storage solution using the IBM N series. The N series range has provided ARCS with an enterpriseclass, affordable, highly scalable and flexible storage solution that will meet their current and future needs. The built-in enterprise serviceability and management helps:

  • Increase reliability
  • Simplify and unify the storage infrastructure and maintenance
  • Delivery exceptional economy

The solution has initially provided a low-cost iSCSI centralised storage array for the document imaging system, but includes fi bre channel ports to provide the necessary flexibility should future systems require this method of connectivity.

The N series operating system, Data ONTAP, provides ARCS with a combination of advanced features including integrated SnapShot technology. This provides point-in-time copy services which can improve resilience over and above standard backup technologies. It also can be utilised with the SnapMirror feature, which provides a mirroring solution between multiple N series devices across IP technology, therefore reducing the requirement for expensive fi bre replication requirements.

The Benefits

The new storage solution has allowed ARCS to operate their storage environment at a much greater utilisation whilst having improved visibility of future capacity requirements. When further capacity is required, it can be added with no disruption, and the current environment can be seamlessly expanded.

Management is simplified due to a single webbased interface allowing for effective monitoring and maintenance with minimal training. Differing drive types can be intermixed within the storage solution, allowing for a mix of high performance fibre channel drives and slower, larger capacity drives.

This enables ARCS to match the storage requirements to the business needs in the most cost effective manner. Servers can now be attached to the centralised storage over multiple protocols, such as fi bre channel, iSCSI or direct fi le sharing (CIFS and NFS). If ARCS needs to fully utilise this device, upgrade paths are simple, and the same management and operating system exist across all models within the range.


APSU have worked with ARCS for over 4 years and have provided core IT solutions and services as well as store roll-out deployments for their retail outlets. Their expertise in storage optimisation gave peace of mind to ARCS that the project would be delivered on time and on budget. APSU is an IBM and Cisco Premier Partner and Microsoft Gold Partner with the experience and knowledge to optimise performance of IT infrastructures. Working with strategic partners, the company helps its clients to achieve a competitive edge.
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