Case Study: Infoterra

Solutions: Clustered SAN Storage, File Management and Archiving
‘The storage solution from S3 has granted us business agility; we can now roll out new customers in mere hours compared to the days it used to take.’

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Industry-leading Geospatial Mapping Company Leverages Hitachi Storage and Imaging Technology to Support Booming Industry

Infoterra, a leading provider of geo-information products and services, delivers reliable geospatial knowledge to customers worldwide – when and where they need it. In order to provide this innovative service, the company required a data storage solution that could cope with vast geospatial mapping image files, which often reach 8 to 12 terabytes (TB) in size, and make them readily available for customers to access. Through leading IT reseller S3, Infoterra deployed Hitachi hardware and software to meet this business challenge.

The Business Case

Today, airborne and satellite data plays a major role in supporting key decision makers within government, business and research. Geographic information has become vital for managing our environment and essential to improving asset management and business processes.

“We have worked very closely with S3 for a number of years, and in fact did consider a number of the major storage vendors. We were particularly impressed with Hitachi Data Systems because it provides the most interoperable storage system on the market; it also offers excellent consultancy and a strong onsite support team.” – Mark Curtis Divisional Technical Manager, Infoterra

Launched in January 2001, Infoterra is a wholly owned subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), Europe’s leading aviation and space company. Infoterra’s geospatial solutions are used in communications, utilities, agriculture, defense, oil, gas and mineral exploration and even property industries. The company has its headquarters in Leicester, United Kingdom, and offices in the UK’s Farnborough and in Hungary.

Infoterra’s experts transform raw data into business information, including citywide building heights, crop statistics, geological mapping and environmental due diligence. The company consults and manages projects involving data capture, verification, manipulation and database creation. Much of this is done by operating aircraft and a range of sensors that provide comprehensive airborne data from aerial photography, as well as providing custom aerial surveys.

These capabilities make Infoterra Europe’s leading independent provider of satellite imagery, providing around 80 percent of images sold to UK companies working across the globe. It also operates Europe’s largest geographical hosting service, delivering data across the Web rapidly and securely. Infoterra counts Landmark, Just Flight, DEFRA and BlueSky among its customers, as well as a well-known Web search company that provides a free global mapping service.

The biggest challenge the company faces is storing and making available geospatial mapping image files for customers, which often reach 8TB in size.

Infoterra Divisional Technical Manager Mark Curtis says, “We currently host data for hundreds of customers from our office in Farnborough, which amounts to two petabytes (PB) of combined mapping and image files.”

“As the geospatial mapping industry evolves from being primarily government funded to a consumer driven market, our customer base is growing very fast. We found our original bespoke server platform was unable to keep up with the increased storage demands.”

“We have worked very closely with S3 for a number of years and in fact did consider a number of the major storage vendors. We were particularly impressed with Hitachi Data Systems because it provides the most interoperable storage system on the market; it also offers excellent consultancy and a strong onsite support team.”

The Solution

In order to provide greater performance, availability and scalability to its customers, Infoterra chose Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage 1000 and 500, which deliver the best price for performance in the market. The solution, recommended to Infoterra by specialist IT reseller S3, also leverages many high-end features such as cache partitioning and RAID-6.

Infoterra also uses Hitachi HiCommand® Device Manager software, a product specific to Hitachi storage systems and Sun StorEdge 9900 series storage systems. The software provides centralized management of distributed Hitachi environments, as well as other third-party storage management tools. The Device Manager Provisioning Assistant enables Infoterra’s administrators to integrate and manage various models and types of storage systems as a single, virtual storage pool, allowing storage administrators to do more with less.

“The Hitachi Data Systems storage solution from S3 has granted us business agility; we can now roll out new customers in mere hours compared to the days it used to take. Geospatial imaging files create more data than you could imagine, which was causing major storage problems. The solution has solved a very serious business inhibitor; we can now provide a resource quickly and efficiently.” – Mark Curtis Divisional Technical Manager, Infoterra

S3 also recommended Hitachi Copy-on-Write Snapshot software, which provides logical snapshot data replication within Hitachi storage systems for immediate use in decision support, software testing and development, data backup or rapid recovery operations.

Infoterra uses the Adaptable Modular Storage 500 system in its Leicester headquarters office with 30TB of storage capacity, running in a Microsoft® Windows environment. This is primarily responsible for the processing of raw aerial photography material. Once processed, the files are stored on tape and shipped to Farnborough for customer use.

The two Adaptable Modular Storage 1000 systems used in Farnborough support 60TB of storage, with a speed of up to 1.6 gigabytes (GB) per second running on a Linux server system. The two 1000 systems store the finished product files from headquarters and host all customer servers and files.

“Our business is now twice as fast as it used to be, concludes Curtis. We can role out new customers within hours and provide very high performance, scalability and reliability.”

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