Case Study: Carmarthenshire County Council

Solutions: Modular Platform, Storage Management
Carmarthenshire County Council sought to replace their old system with a storage solution offering increased capacity, high performance, simple manageability and lower-cost overheads.

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Carmarthenshire County Council Pioneers Simplified Storage Management with Hitachi Modular Storage

Carmarthenshire County Council, one of the largest and most diverse employers in South West Wales, faced a storage dilemma following the dramatic growth of its organisation. The council required more storage capacity, improved management capabilities and a scalable solution that would grow with them. Hitachi Data Systems, and partner S3, had the solutions, support and services that met these needs.

Carmarthenshire County Council is one of the largest and most diverse employers in South West Wales, employing over 9,000 people and providing services across a rural county to a population of around 180,500.

The organisation witnessed dramatic internal growth over the last decade, creating a storage conundrum. There was a distinct need to store increasing amounts of data effectively, efficiently and securely. The challenge was to manage a consolidated storage environment seamlessly, while ensuring no information was lost, duplicated or misplaced. Effective ease of use was also required of the solution in order for it to scale as the organisation continued to grow and develop.

The Search for a Solution

The council had a legacy Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage (AMS) 500 in place, along with LSI StoreAge virtualization.

As the kit reached end of life, Carmarthenshire sought to replace it with a storage solution offering increased capacity, high performance, simple manageability and lower-cost overheads.

The council’s high-level project goals included:

  • Find a more up-to-date and efficient storage solution to handle the council’s increasing data requirements.
  • Ensure that the chosen offering delivers a reliable and easy-to-use solution to the imminent storage challenge, which would readily scale with the business.
  • Remove the shackles of per-terabyte licensing.
  • Replace legacy storage solution quickly and efficiently with zero downtime or data loss.

After looking at a number of vendor options, including HP, Carmarthenshire County Council selected a Hitachi Data Systems solution to meet its requirements.

“I’d been impressed in the past with our Hitachi offering and was confident that its upgraded storage solution could deliver the demands of our growing organisation,” said Nial Grimes, IT consultant at Carmarthenshire County Council. “We looked into other vendor offerings but believed Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage 2300 systems would provide us with the performance, reliability and scalability we needed, at a highly competitive price.”

An equally important part of the decision and implementation of the Hitachi solution was the involvement of S3. This experienced and trusted Hitachi TrueNorth™ Partner provided technical expertise around the solution from start to finish.

Simplified, Reliable, Integrated Storage

The council purchased 2 Hitachi AMS2300 systems, which were installed by S3 within the organisation’s main data centers. The AMS 2300 systems provided a highly reliable, flexible and scalable storage system for Microsoft Exchange Server, VMware, databases and other business applications.

“The Hitachi AMS 2300 systems were primarily used to support the council’s Microsoft Windows environment, comprising some 300 virtual machines and a mix of applications, ranging from document management tools, with heavier storage requirements, to smaller supporting applications for distinct business areas,” explained Alasdair Hill, account manager at S3.

Advanced features of the solution allowed Carmarthenshire County Council to rationalise and simplify its environment with tiered storage: 3 levels with which the council could organise and prioritise data. They could now intermix high-performance SAS drives and cost-optimised SATA drives in the same system.

Hitachi dynamic load balancing controllers automatically reduce controller bottlenecks. The simplified storage solution therefore integrated fully with the council’s VMware environment, ensuring effective performance management. With the Hitachi AMS 2300 systems the council was able to fully utilise its VMware assets. This lead to further cost savings, as it negated the need to upgrade or replace these resources.

“From a management perspective, the Hitachi solution centralises and manages multiple systems for greater efficiencies from a single-pane-of-glass view,” said Grimes.

Success for the wider project has meant the Carmarthenshire County Council has been able to remove 4 racks of equipment from its primary data center alone. The same amount of storage now occupies a smaller amount of physical space. Power in the council’s primary data center has therefore been freed up; cooling requirements have been reduced and simplified management has been enabled.

“Data is the most important thing we hold, and we confidently place it in the safe hands of Hitachi Data Systems,” said Grimes. “S3 provided the consultancy needed to see the project through from inception to implementation and as a team we’ve realised the benefits that effective storage management can deliver.”

Key benefits of the implementation include:

  • High reliability, with 99.999% data availability and no single point of failure
  • Excellent integration with VMware, facilitating high-performance delivery of virtual environments
  • Solution that scales as data requirements grow
  • Reduced energy and facilities costs; more storage delivered with lower power consumption than legacy equipment
  • Simplified storage management
  • “Whole array” licensing of key features, reducing the cost of expansion

In 2012, Carmarthenshire County Council installed a 3rd Hitachi AMS 2300 as part of its disaster recovery project.

“The requests for more storage will keep coming and it’s my job, with the support of Hitachi Data Systems, to ensure that we can handle them,” said W. Nigel Davies, infrastructure manager at Carmarthenshire County Council.

Read more about Carmarthenshire County Council and the organisation’s ongoing work to bring optimum efficiency, through consolidation and virtualisation of the IT environment in the SNS Editorial.

Carmarthenshire County Council

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