Dar Al-Handasah engineers smart solution to data growth challenge

Cutting cost and complexity with virtualized storage from IBM

Published on 17-Oct-2012

"By virtualizing our older storage resources and making them part of the same single pool of storage on the V7000, we have also improved their performance, thanks to the large Storwize cache." - Mahmoud Amin, Head of IT, Dar Al-Handasah

Customer:
Dar Al-Handasah

Industry:
Construction / Architecture / Engineering

Deployment country:
Egypt

Solution:
Business Resiliency, Storage Consolidation, Virtualization, Virtualization - Storage

Overview

Established in Egypt in 1956, Dar Al-Handasah is a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy with approximately 6,300 employees in 40 offices across 30 countries. The organization provides a full range of services related to the design, construction and operation of infrastructure such as airports, hospitals, highways, shopping malls, oil refineries, factories and office buildings.

Business need:
With storage needs doubling every few years, Dar Al-Handasah needed to rationalize and optimize its storage infrastructure. Performance, capacity, cost and ease of management needed to be addressed.

Solution:
Deployed two IBM® Storwize® V7000 storage systems with built-in tools for data migration, thin-provisioning and auto data tiering; virtualized legacy storage systems within the V7000 environment.

Benefits:
Backups run 25 percent faster; increased performance of existing storage; cut floorspace requirements by 75 percent; improved efficiency of capacity utilization; delayed investments in extra capacity.

Case Study

Established in Egypt in 1956, Dar Al-Handasah is a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy with approximately 6,300 employees in 40 offices across 30 countries. The organization provides a full range of services related to the design, construction and operation of infrastructure such as airports, hospitals, highways, shopping malls, oil refineries, factories and office buildings.

With hundreds of major projects in process at any given time, each with multiple complex elements, Dar Al-Handasah creates, consumes and stores vast amounts of data. As the company expands and diversifies, the amount of data is doubling every few years, putting a significant strain on the storage infrastructure.

To enable the business to keep serving the needs of its clients, Dar Al-Handasah wanted to rationalize and optimize its data storage, as Mahmoud Amin, Head of IT, explains: “IT is a key business enabler, giving our engineers the tools to analyze requirements, calculate specifications, and design and store blueprints. The aggressive growth in data was causing performance and capacity problems, and we also found that maintenance costs were rising fast for our existing systems. We needed a new solution that would offer unified management for all storage, tiering technology to enable us to balance cost and performance, and thin-provisioning technology to reduce our total capacity requirements.”

Cost-neutral solution
The fast growth in data volume at Dar Al-Handasah meant not only that the company was running out of capacity, but also that overnight backups were over-running, causing delays in accessing crucial data.

“The IBM Storwize V7000 virtualized storage system was the ideal solution, giving us higher performance at lower cost, with the ability to virtualize our older storage devices and manage them as part of the V7000 environment,” says Amin.

The cost of acquiring the Storwize V7000 with a three-year warranty was practically the same as the three-year cost of maintenance for just one of Dar Al-Handasah’s legacy storage systems – effectively making the new IBM solution a zero-cost option. “We just swapped the boxes, and of course the new one has more capacity, and is both faster and more resilient,” says Amin. “It’s also physically smaller: the new system occupies half a rack versus two racks for the old system – that’s a 75 percent saving. By virtualizing our older storage resources and making them part of the same single pool of storage on the V7000, we have also improved their performance, thanks to the large Storwize cache.”

Dar Al-Handasah has deployed two IBM Storwize V7000 systems, using one for production data and one as a disk-based backup system. The company uses IBM FlashCopy® on the V7000 to take automatic snapshots of all data four times a day, both for subsequent backup to tape and for direct user access. Users can retrieve up to 64 previous versions of their files, eliminating around 20 calls each month to the IT team from users who have accidentally deleted files.

The high performance of the V7000 has made full backups 25 percent faster, and Dar Al-Handasah can even run backups during working hours with no negative impact on users. The Storwize systems are more energy-efficient, cutting power and cooling costs as well as easing the strain on Dar Al-Handasah’s UPS infrastructure.

Transparent migration
Dar Al-Handasah used built-in Storwize software to move data from some legacy systems to faster disks within the V7000 itself. “The Storwize migration tools are really impressive,” says Amin. “Migrating data is totally transparent, and requires just a couple of minutes of downtime at the start of the process. It then runs in the background, with no impact on live users.”

Also included with Storwize V7000 are thin-provisioning tools. If the IT team gets a request to provision a 10 TB space for a new application, but that application initially uses only 1 TB, the unused 9 TB capacity remains available to other systems. Across a large number of similar scenarios, this means that Dar Al-Handasah needs less total capacity, and can delay investments in new capacity.

Self-optimizing solution
IBM System Storage® Easy Tier® on Storwize V7000 can automatically analyze disk usage and I/O performance, identifying potential hotspots and migrating the most frequently used data to faster disks – for example, from SATA to SAS, or from SAS to SSD, which allows the use of fewer, more energy-efficient disk drives to reduce energy consumption.

“Easy Tier enables us to automatically optimize performance for the most important systems, without requiring us to make a substantial investment in the top tier of disks,” says Amin. “With the new V7000 firmware, we will be able to use de-duplication, allowing us to squeeze in more data into the existing capacity. This would be a great advantage, as we are looking to stabilize or even stop storage investments for a year or two.”

A smarter future
Adding more capacity to the V7000 will be fast and easy, and each system can be configured with expansion enclosures to provide up to 360 TB of capacity. Dar Al-Handasah can also choose to expand its capacity by virtualizing additional external devices.

“IBM Storwize is solving our storage challenges, providing the capabilities of a large enterprise solution, but priced in the mid range,” says Amin. “Faced with challenges in the market and the global recession, we as an IT department still need to meet the business needs with a limited budget. Having innovative technology like the V7000 helps us to do that.”

He concludes: “The unified interface that the V7000 provides for all the virtualized storage systems is a major advantage, making it easier and more efficient to manage our older storage systems, and preserving the value of these earlier investments. Virtualized storage is also more cost-efficient because we can typically provision new environments by reassigning spare capacity, rather than needing to buy new disks. As we look to manage both our costs and the growth in capacity requirements, Storwize V7000 is a major help.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Storage, Storage: Storwize V7000

Software:
FlashCopy

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America October 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Easy Tier, FlashCopy, Storwize, and System Storage 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 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. 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. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only. Actual available storage capacity may be reported for both uncompressed and compressed data and will vary and may be less than stated.