Statistics Finland counts on IBM XIV for large-scale decision support

Government organization finds XIV performance and resilience enable high service levels at low cost

Published on 20-Dec-2010

Validated on 04 Jun 2012

"To support our complex, large-scale statistical analytics processes, our storage infrastructure must deliver high levels of I/O performance and high reliability, and the XIV architecture delivers on both counts." - Tenho Vastaranta, Manager of IT Development, Statistics Finland

Customer:
Statistics Finland

Industry:
Government

Deployment country:
Finland

Solution:
Business Resiliency, Enabling Business Flexibility, High Availability , Optimizing IT, Optimizing IT, Virtualization, Virtualization - Storage

IBM Business Partner:
Konehuone

Overview

Founded in 1865 and headquartered in Helsinki, Statistics Finland produces the vast majority of official statistics for the Finnish government and is a significant international player in the field of statistics. Its analyses, performed by a staff of more than 1,000 professional statisticians in various fields, support the Finnish Government in making decisions and keeping its citizens informed.

Business need:
To provide the government with accurate information, Statistics Finland analyzes huge amounts of data. Its existing storage was unable to maintain service levels as data volumes grew.

Solution:
Deployed one full-rack IBM XIV Storage System in a mixed storage environment fully virtualized by IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller.

Benefits:
Delivers high performance for complex batch runs. Performs reliably with huge data sets. Simplifies management and scalability with thin provisioning.

Case Study

Founded in 1865 and headquartered in Helsinki, Statistics Finland produces the vast majority of official statistics for the Finnish government and is a significant international player in the field of statistics. Its analyses, performed by a staff of more than 1,000 professional statisticians in various fields, support the Finnish Government in making decisions and keeping its citizens informed.

Each year, Statistics Finland collects, stores, and analyzes enormous quantities of data on all aspects of Finnish society. The data, held in Microsoft® SQL Server and Sybase databases, is analyzed using SAS software. The huge scale of the data sets and complexity of the analytical tasks make real-time transaction processing impractical, so Statistics Finland uses batch processes. The organization requires a storage infrastructure capable of delivering high I/O speeds to enable its servers to process the data as quickly as possible. Reliability is also critical, because even a minor failure in the storage infrastructure halfway through a batch run may cause the whole process to be repeated.

“We were using IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller to virtualize several storage systems—including IBM System Storage DS4300, IBM Enterprise Storage Server® and HP EVA hardware—and were running out of capacity,” explains Tenho Vastaranta, Manager of IT Development at Statistics Finland. “We wanted to extend our existing infrastructure, which meant choosing a new platform that would deliver the performance and reliability we needed at a suitable price. We also sought to manage our whole storage landscape more effectively, so that we could scale without increasing management complexity.”

Analyze that
Working with the Finnish government’s central procurement organization, Hansel, the Statistics Finland IT team short-listed the IBM XIV Storage System and HP EVA 8400.

“We conducted tests comparing IBM XIV and HP EVA—including I/O analytics, load monitoring over a two-week period, and scalability tests,” says Vastaranta. “Both systems proved capable of meeting our requirements but we chose the XIV offering due to price. It was more cost-effective—it included licenses for integrating with our IBM SAN Volume Controller environment, whereas the HP offering didn’t.”

Konehuone, a Finnish IBM Business Partner, helped install and configure the new XIV system—a single full rack (79 TB). “The implementation went smoothly: Konehuone completed the configuration and testing at their own premises and then moved the IBM XIV into our data center,” comments Vastaranta. “From our point of view, the implementation took just two days, with no disruption.”

Top-notch performance and resilience
The XIV system is now an integral part of the organization’s virtualized storage infrastructure, which is managed by IBM SAN Volume Controller. The storage environment is accessed by some 40 physical servers, including IBM Power Systems™ servers running AIX® and a six-node VMware cluster running more than 100 virtual Microsoft Windows® and Linux® servers.

IBM XIV is used for the organization’s most critical application needs: the Microsoft SQL Server and Sybase databases that support the SAS statistical analysis system, as well as their Teamware email application, with approximately 1,200 mailboxes. Statistics Finland runs IBM Tivoli Storage Manager to handle data backup and protection across all corporate systems.

“To support our complex, large-scale statistical analytics processes, our storage infrastructure must deliver high levels of I/O performance and high reliability, and the XIV architecture delivers on both counts,” comments Vastaranta. “It reads and writes data in parallel across multiple disks, dramatically increasing performance, and stores copies of each data segment on different modules, ensuring resilience even if individual disks fail.”

Nondisruptive terabyte growth
With Statistics Finland’s data sets growing all the time, the organization is enabling nondisruptive capacity growth in its storage landscape by leveraging XIV thin provisioning capabilities.

“We are using XIV thin provisioning to create logical storage volumes that are larger than our current physical capacity,” says Vastaranta. “This lets us plan for future growth and buy the disks only when we actually need them. We have already bought more capacity and thus increased the performance of the system. Once again, the implementation of the additional capacity growth created no disruption and we did not need to reconfigure the system.”

Cost-effective and reliable
“The XIV is an extremely efficient and reliable system: since the go-live almost a year and a half ago, we haven’t had a single issue with it,” says Vastaranta.

Vastaranta concludes: “We are just starting out with the XIV platform, so it’s difficult to put an exact value on its contribution to our storage architecture at this stage. However, for a solution that delivers such high levels of performance and reliability, the XIV system is cost-effective, especially when compared to traditional Fibre Channel disk storage solutions. We are really looking forward to the future product development of XIV. As we gain more experience with the XIV platform and its more advanced features, we expect its benefits will become even more evident—and prove to the entire organization that XIV is the right storage platform for the future of Statistics Finland.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power 520 Express, Power Systems, Power Systems running AIX 5, Power Systems running AIX 6, Storage, Storage: XIV

Software:
AIX, Tivoli Storage Manager, System Storage SAN Volume Controller

Operating system:
Linux, Sun Solaris, Win NT/2003

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2010 IBM Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America December 2010 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, System Storage and XIV are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries, or both. Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. IBM and Konehuone are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Konehuone makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates Offerings are subject to change, extension or withdrawal without notice. All client examples cited represent how some clients have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. The information in this document is provided “as is” without any warranty, either expressed or implied.