Leading automotive solutions company implements SAN-based storage to handle large data volumes

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HP and Veritas-based solution eases IT management worries and provides flexible storage for future growth.

Corus Automotive Engineering is a division of the international metals company specialising in the development of innovative vehicle engineering solutions using latest thinking in materials and manufacturing technologies. Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) plays an important role, generating large amounts of engineering data.

It is therefore vital for Corus Automotive Engineering to have a reliable IT infrastructure that allocates adequate storage and can retrieve data efficiently to ensure project work meets critical deadlines. However, its legacy environment could not handle the rising volume of work and was becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Corus Automotive Engineering needed to consolidate its storage environment and introduce a more resilient solution that would:

Centralise storage
Increase storage space
Improve manageability
Create a base for new services
Lower IT administration and cost

Challenge
The biggest concern for Corus Automotive Engineering was the rapid growth of data, and the amount of information it had to retain. With employees retaining and retrieving more information, particularly large Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) files, storage capacity was reaching its limit.

The situation was compounded by having two disparate systems, one for storing Windows data and another for Unix-based engineering data and multiple versions kept on the system were taking up valuable storage capacity.

This disjointed approach, resulting from the evolution of an IT system during a period of growth, presented the IT team with a number of operational problems. The most pressing was managing the back up and restore of data, and the window during which the backups could be run without disruption of the network.

To ensure the IT infrastructure would continue to function efficiently, Corus required an increase in storage space and an efficient method of managing the type and version of files for improved back up and retrieval.

The existing infrastructure could not keep pace with demand or the sheer volume of data that needed to be stored in a resilient and fail safe environment, says Mike Twelves, Manager, Knowledge Systems, Corus Automotive Engineering. It offered little in the way of managing the data load and data recovery was time consuming, which was critical given the information we store.

With the old infrastructure unable to meet business demand, Corus took the decision to implement a new, centralised storage environment. Scalability was critical to future-proof its investment and provide a foundation to roll out new solutions when they were required.

Solution
Working closely with Corus Automotive Engineering and Capgemini, who manage the solution on its behalf, Hawke implemented an HP-based SAN, consisting of a HP StorageWorks MSA1000 drive array with 2.5 Terabytes of storage. Attached to the SAN is a Nexsan ATA disk-to-disk array with approximately 8 Terabytes of storage. Dual active/active RAID controllers provide full failover with online access to data.

2 HP DL380 servers, clustered to deliver a cost-effective, high-performance, scalable architecture were installed by Hawke to perform file and print services, together with domain access control using Active Directory. The capacity available on the servers coupled with the SAN architecture enables additional storage capacity to be added easily and at relatively low incremental cost.

Legato NetWorker software was installed to simplify and centralise data back up across Corus Windows and Unix platforms. It enables greater management of the back up environment through features such as advanced indexing and cluster support, and helps increase IT staff productivity.

Veritas StorageCentral software was introduced to reduce total cost of ownership by automatically enforcing data management policies to match data needs with storage attributes. This optimises storage resource utilisation, simplifies administration and provides continuous availability of critical applications.

Conclusion
The new IT infrastructure has given the company a more manageable centralised storage environment, enabling it to work more efficiently. Moving to a new SAN-based solution has also reduced Corus administration time and given it more control over its data as an increasing amount of information is stored and backed up.

We can automatically control storage allocation, block inappropriate file types, ensure we are not keeping duplicate copies, report on disk usage and provide real-time notification when thresholds are reached, says Twelves. Establishing quotas means we can be more proactive and not have to deal with problems once they have occurred. We certainly expect to see a reduction in administration time as a result, leaving IT staff free for more value added tasks.

Corus has also introduced a flexible, centralised back up and restore environment that can scale as high a 16 Terabytes. It has taken on new projects, confident that should any storage issues arise, it has a back up and restore solution in place to deal with them.

Weve instantly demonstrated the scalability of the solution with a project that required more storage and processing capability, says Twelves. We went from 2.5 to 10 Terabytes, which was simply a case of plugging in another MSA1000 and Nexsan box.

Corus was impressed with Hawkes technical approach to the project and the time invested to examine its needs. Hawkes proactive approach to the entire project, from initial specification, the solution itself and working with Cap Gemini was very welcome, says Jon King, Director, Corus Automotive. Hawke took us to visit existing customers so we could see the technology in action and even arranged for the Corus account manager at HP, our IT provider, to talk to us about its storage roadmap, which was appreciated by the project team.

Hawke Systems are exhibiting at Storage Expo the UK's largest and most important event dedicated to data storage, now in its 5th year, the show features a comprehensive FREE education programme, and over 90 exhibitors at the National Hall, Olympia, London from 12 - 13 October 2005 www.storage-expo.com

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