Sydney-based media production and distribution company, Beyond International, has consolidated its disparate data silos to better prepare it for growth and improve its business continuity strategy.\nThe $75 million company creates content for broadcast television and distributes and sells content to broadcasters and consumers. Beyond International had grown through acquisition, which resulted in disparate systems across its 12 offices around the world.\nThe company wanted to link all its systems together and centralise operations as much as possible in case of future acquisitions and partnerships. Back office applications often performed slowly and suffered periods of downtime, said CIO Billy Cobbe.\n\u201cWe\u2019re paying people a lot of money for their skills, and we don\u2019t want small IT problems hampering their effectiveness,\u201d he said. \u201cWe saw that our real investment was in our data, not server boxes or operating systems. In addition to virtualising\nour servers, we needed to look at the way we were accessing our data.\u201d\nFive ways to successfully manage dynamic storage infrastructures.\nCobbe, who joined Beyond International in 1997, said centralised data would make it easier to build a disaster recovery plan.\nBeyond looked at storage systems from EMC, HP and NetApp before choosing EMC. The company \u2014 predominantly a \u201cMac shop\u201d with little Windows server or virtualisation experience \u2014 engaged Sydney-based IT consulting firm Nexus for the implementation work.\nWith some six servers each running multiple applications, a 3TB fibre channel network storage system was installed to convert the servers to a virtual environment, while migrating the data to the networked storage system.\nThe project, which is a first step on the road to full DR, cost $120,000 and was originally proposed 12 months ago.\n\u201cOur systems run a lot more smoothly now \u2013 people have secure access to the data they need to help run the business, 24 hours a day,\u201d Cobbe said. \u201cThat alone justifies the cost of our investments.\u201d Beyond International improved the performance and reduced the risk profile of business applications like the ERP system, which was migrated to a VMware virtual server. Moving the data to the new storage system reduced disk-based performance constraints, particularly during end-of-month processing peak loads. Management software allows the IT team to manage the storage and virtual machines in a single interface.\n\u201cWe didn\u2019t have the internal skills in storage systems, so having these management tools was really important,\u201d Cobbe said. \u201cOnce it was all set up and optimised for our environment, it was very easy to manage.\u201d\nRead more about Management category.\nBeyond is now buying another drive shelf and adding 6TB of capacity to its storage. Cobbe said the project was started with certain assumptions, but the company is consuming more space than it originally thought it would and is installing more VMs to cater for the growth. Another physical server will be purchased to run virtual machines.\nThe project highlighted the potential of virtual appliances, which Cobbe believes will be the next thing to take off, particularly in the network services space.\nWith its data centralised in a single storage system, Beyond was confident enough to proceed with a proper disaster recovery strategy.\n\u201cWe now have a proper disaster recovery model that protects the value of our investments in company data,\u201d Cobbe said.\n\nRecommended reading:\nHow can IT shops reduce server virtualisation's impact on storage?