Published on 28-Jun-2010
Validated on 01 Oct 2012
"The goal was to implement a storage solution that would allow us to deal with quick, exponential growth without outlaying a lot of additional capital." - Scott Rivers, Senior Manager, IT, Penn West Energy
Penn West Energy
Energy & Utilities
IT/infrastructure, Energy Efficiency, Infrastructure Simplification, Systems & Network Management, Virtualization
Penn West Energy is a large conventional oil and natural gas producer headquartered in Alberta, Canada. As an actively managed company, Penn West has historically experienced periods of rapid growth through acquisitions.
Penn West Energy did not have an IT solution to accommodate rapidly increasing storage and backup needs resulting from acquisitions. The Calgary-based company had to act quickly to upgrade and consolidate its legacy systems without interrupting service to users.
Using an in-house team, Penn West Energy installed an IBM storage infrastructure solution that significantly boosted capacity and reduced backup times. Penn West consolidated ten legacy storage systems and implemented an IBM System Storage DS5300, DS5100, N5600 and N6040, as well as a SAN Volume Controller and TS3500 Tape Libraries.
The IBM solution reduced Oracle database export times from two hours to 15 minutes, reduced restore times from two weeks to eight hours, and enabled storage virtualization, data deduplication, and file server consolidation.
Penn West Energy is a large conventional oil and natural gas producer in North America. Headquartered in Calgary in Alberta, Canada, Penn West Energy employs about 2,000 workers.
As an actively managed company, Penn West has historically experienced periods of rapid growth through acquisitions. Penn West anticipates continued growth through acquisitions, as well as through traditional organic growth.
Rapid growth spurs storage challenges
The challenges of rapid growth were evident to Scott Rivers, Senior Manager, IT at Penn West Energy. He says the company had to literally add an entire building to its headquarters in order to house all of the additional people and equipment.
In fact, the growth was beginning to strain Penn West’s legacy storage infrastructure, increasing the risk of downtime. With multiple disparate components, some overburdened and some at end of life, storage management became an ongoing challenge. Rivers says the mergers and acquisitions also created an enormous amount of accumulated data -- as well as new users who required immediate and uninterrupted access to services and critical information.
"Typically we only have two or three months to have the systems of the acquired company, including financial and other key business systems, integrated into ours," he says. "We also had to have all of the end users of the acquired company fully integrated into our environment as well. All of this unforeseen growth was one of our biggest challenges. We knew it was coming -- we just didn’t know how big the growth would be from year to year."
IBM storage solutions to the rescue
Penn West turned to IBM to develop a single-vendor storage solution that would deliver high performance, ease of management, cost efficiencies, and scalability. In this case, the solution included an IBM System Storage® DS5300, one System Storage DS5100, one System Storage N5600, one IBM System Storage N6040, an IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and two System Storage TS3500 Tape Library devices.
The centerpiece of the IBM storage infrastructure is the DS5300 -- the first DS5300 to be deployed in Western Canada. The DS5300 serves as Penn West’s primary storage solution, providing the company with 102 terabytes of raw capacity as well as room for additional trays. Burton King, the Team Lead for UNIX® and Storage at Penn West Energy, says the DS5300 handles all of the company’s most demanding storage requirements, supporting a mixed-workload environment that includes Oracle, Microsoft® SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, and a dynamic VMware environment.
The DS5100 serves a vital business recovery role for Penn West -- the data on the DS5300 is replicated asynchronously to the DS5100 at the company’s collocation site. The N5600, with 40 terabytes of storage, sits in front of the DS5300 and functions as Penn West’s file server, providing drive letters for the entire company. The N6040 and TS3500 Tape Libraries provide additional storage capacity. The SVC, originally deployed to migrate data to the new storage devices, is now also used to facilitate backups and testing.
The new storage devices were integrated with the company’s existing IBM hardware infrastructure, which includes IBM Power® 570 and IBM BladeCenter® HS21, HS22, JS21, and JS43.
"The goal was to implement a storage solution that would allow us to deal with quick, exponential growth without outlaying a lot of additional capital," Rivers explains.
Immediate tangible benefits
Penn West immediately saw some compelling results with the new IBM storage infrastructure. For example, tape backup speeds for Microsoft Windows® file servers were cut roughly in half, from 200 megabytes per second peak on the legacy equipment to a 700 megabytes per second peak on the new solution, with sustained speeds of 500 megabytes per second. Exports of the company’s 414 GB Oracle database, which used to take two hours, now take 15 minutes.
The IBM storage solution not only boosted backup speeds tremendously, it sped up data restores as well. One of the company’s Windows file server drives containing 1.3 terabytes of data -- roughly 3 million files -- previously took two weeks to restore. The same function is now being completed in just eight hours.
Penn West is also achieving dramatic storage space savings through the integrated data deduplication features of the solution. King explains that deduplication is a major benefit for the company’s geologists and geophysicists, who deal with massive amounts of geological data.
"Our geological environment on the N5600 is 7 terabytes all by itself. When we deduplicated it, we saw a 60 percent space savings. That’s huge," says King. "It means our geologists and geophysicists can put more data in there without using a whole lot more disk space. Even the smaller drives have seen as much as a 27 percent storage savings."
The IBM solution has also enabled Penn West to consolidate 10 legacy storage systems, saving on energy costs, reducing the storage footprint in the data center, and enabling significant management efficiencies. "The cost of running 10 servers versus a single cluster -- that translates to reduced complexity and reduced administration time," says Rivers. "There are also a lot of tangible savings when you look at licensing costs and things like that."
But perhaps the most rewarding benefits are those experienced by the end users themselves. Before putting the solution in place, King says end users were having issues with timeouts when accessing data. "All of those problems have gone away," he reports. "The end user experience for performance has been far better than what we were seeing on the legacy equipment."
Looking ahead -- with IBM
The IBM storage infrastructure has been so successful that Penn West plans on using IBM System Storage solutions in future projects related to disaster recovery. Another upcoming initiative will be to build a new Exchange server cluster attached to the DS5300.
Rivers says that IBM was the clear choice for answers to Penn West’s legacy storage infrastructure issues. "We’ve used IBM in our infrastructure for a long time, and we wanted to stick with the IBM platform," he says. "With IBM, we have one company guaranteeing that all of these storage components will work together."
For more information
Contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner. Visit us at: ibm.com/storage
For more information about Penn West Energy, visit: www.pennwest.com
Products and services used
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