Running a smart county on IBM XIV

A major U.S. county stops buying capacity for IOPS by standardizing on XIV

Published on 20-Feb-2013

"The XIV Storage System has helped us meet some of the county's major goals by keeping us within budget and giving us the space to store and protect citizen data. It's an all-in-one package, so we can easily predict our future storage costs based on the applications we're putting in. The support is excellent also, and we have full confidence in running our mission-critical applications on the XIV platform." - U.S. county IT spokesperson

Customer:
A major U.S. county

Industry:
Government

Solution:
Business Resiliency, Energy Efficiency, High Availability , Storage Consolidation, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

Overview

Home to more than one million residents, this county is one of the largest and most prominent in the eastern United States. Its workforce of 14,000 delivers a broad range of services, including in education, public safety, public works, health, social services, housing, and transportation. Its centralized IT department is responsible for the county’s entire IT operation, spanning more than 50 internal departments.

Business need:
Realizing that it was buying capacity to keep up with performance needs, this U.S. county sought high performing, cost-efficient, easy-to-manage storage.

Solution:
Standardized on IBM® XIV® Storage, in use with SAP ERP, Oracle, Microsoft Exchange 2010, and mission-critical revenue systems, and grew capacity to more than 600 TB in two years.

Benefits:
High performance; easy migration and quick training; seamless scaling; thin-provisioning for higher utilization; fast backup and recovery with IBM Tivoli® FlashCopy® Manager; lower cost, energy and space.

Case Study

Home to more than one million residents, this county is one of the largest and most prominent in the eastern United States. Its workforce of 14,000 delivers a broad range of services, including in education, public safety, public works, health, social services, housing, and transportation. Its centralized IT department is responsible for the county’s entire IT operation, spanning more than 50 internal departments.

Several years ago, the IT team realized it was buying capacity as a means for maintaining performance, and knew a change was needed. “Our storage costs had really started escalating, partly because we found ourselves buying new equipment to get the IOPs we needed,” says a spokesperson. “The real tipping point came when we realized that renewing the maintenance contract for the existing storage infrastructure was almost as expensive as buying a whole new solution. Given the wider economic pressures, we needed a more sustainable approach for the future.”

The county started by deploying an IBM XIV Storage System for non-primary storage needs yet soon discovered that the system ran faster than its primary storage, at lower cost. Switching gears, the county made XIV its strategic enterprise storage platform, replacing its long-time tier 1 storage, and has been growing the XIV solution, now at 600 TB, ever since.

“IBM XIV Storage System gives us a tier-one solution at [lower tier] pricing,” says a spokesperson. “The IOPs are superior to our previous tier-one solution, and it's extremely easy to use. Our storage team has to take care of many departments, so the ease of administration with the XIV is a very important benefit.”

Discovering sustainable Tier 1 storage

A county spokesperson describes its decision to replace its long-term incumbent enterprise storage: “We started by putting small applications on our first XIV system. It handled everything, with no hotspots, so we started adding more and more. Some think XIV can’t be Tier 1 at its inexpensive price—we’ve discovered otherwise. We migrated over our $2 billion tax revenue system and have been an XIV shop ever since.”

He adds, “In terms of reliability, maintenance and expansion, our XIV systems are excellent. For example, our entire SAP landscape—payroll, finance, logistics, and human capital management—is on XIV; that application has really high exposure and absolutely needs to be reliable.”

Today, the county runs all its mission-critical applications and more on XIV, including 400 Microsoft SQL Server databases, 120 Oracle databases, a 65,000 seat SAP ERP installation, and public-safety Geographic Information Systems. The county's XIV solution spans a primary data center and high-availability backup site, linked by dedicated fiber-optic connections.

“On XIV, we see no performance degradation as we add more capacity,” says a spokesperson. “More importantly, there's no disruption. When you are migrating truly business-critical systems, you don't have the luxury of having them down over a weekend. As we buy new XIV storage, we can migrate mission-critical data to it in the middle of the working day, and users don't even realize that's happening. And each new XIV system is ready to use within two or three hours of delivery.”

Aggressively virtualized for efficiency

The county’s storage requirements are doubling every other year, partly due to the smart use of technology—including e-services—to make the county run more efficiently and better serve the constituency.

A spokesperson explains: “We want to enable government to operate 24×7 without clocks, walls or boundaries. With a huge constituency, we have started to develop web applications so folks can check traffic congestion or pay their bills online from work or home. Our workforce, such as our inspectors in the field, has shifted over to smartphones, iPads, and different tablets to support the business. We support that—and with a limited staff—with virtualization and our virtual desktop infrastructure.”

The team finds XIV a strong storage complement to its aggressive virtualization program, in which 80 percent—soon 90 percent—of the county's 1,000 servers are virtualized on VMware and Citrix. A spokesperson comments: “Virtualization is a key tool for doing more with less in IT, and XIV Storage System is specifically tuned to work well with our large VMware landscape.”

With its previous storage at only 30 percent utilization, the county was forced to continually invest in new capacity while 70 percent of its storage went unused. “The built-in thin-provisioning capabilities of XIV enable us to use disk capacity far more efficiently. We can give application teams whatever capacity they request, and reallocate whatever they don't actually use,” says a spokesperson.

“Easiest storage we’ve ever run”

XIV storage is helping the county meet environmental and manpower targets. “We wanted to cut down on the cost, energy and space requirements for storage. We can now get 160 TB almost in a single floor tile—it would have been more like 10 before,” says a spokesperson.

He adds: “Our storage management workload is being handled by the same team we had five or six years ago, yet we've expanded our responsibilities by 50 or 60 percent. The automation and intuitive software provided by the XIV systems plays a big part in that. And it takes just a day or two to train on, versus weeks of offsite training for other storage technologies we've used.”
The spokesperson concludes: “The XIV Storage System has helped us meet some of the county's major goals by keeping us within budget and giving us the space to store and protect citizen data. It's an all-in-one package, so we can easily predict our future storage costs based on the applications we're putting in. The support is excellent also, and we have full confidence in running our mission-critical applications on the XIV platform. XIV is quite possibly the easiest storage we’ve ever had to run.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Storage, Storage: XIV

Software:
Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America February 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, FlashCopy, Tivoli, and XIV are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Microsoft, Windows and Windows NT are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Actual available storage capacity may be reported for both uncompressed and compressed data and will vary and may be less than stated.