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 ChallengeARCS 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 IssuesARCS 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 RequirementsARCS 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 SolutionAPSU 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 BeneﬁtsThe 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.