Macquarie Telecom has upgraded a significant portion of its legacy IT, including its storage infrastructure and IT operations management systems, amid significant growth in demand for its hosting and Cloud services.
According to local hosting company’s general manager hosting operations, James Mystakidis, the company’s previous storage technologies had service failures and were unreliable, without the capacity to scale when required.
Mystakidis said Macquarie’s data centre storage growth needs were averaging 30 per cent per year, while 40 per cent of existing customers and 95 per cent of new customers were using virtualisation to meet their infrastructure requirements. In addition, then existing storage technologies were unreliable, rife with service failures and did not have the capacity to scale when required.
“We wanted a platform that could scale to support our growth as well as returning us the reliability and service performance that our customers are looking for, which we didn’t have before,” he said.
Coinciding with the lacklustre storage was the dated monitoring technology, Mystakidis said, which drove the hosting company to map out their exact requirements and conduct a stringent evaluation before heading to market.
“We realised we needed to connect our asset base with our monitoring tools in a more automated fashion, to improve our internal processes and provide a better, proactive service to customers,” he said. “This was also essential in allowing us to scale upwards… ensure the flow of information across our assets was seamless and we could track it effectively.”
The company defined its requirements in detail and noted what was important and what opportunities needed to be addressed.
“We went and tested that framework against some of the key technologies that existed in the market and came up with quite a scientific process which scored all the different technologies based on our technologies, then as a team we reviewed the findings and came up with a direction in terms of where we would place our investment.”
Vendors including HP, Microsoft and EMC made it to the shortlist but Mystakidis said it was the EMC IT Operations Intelligence (SMARTS) that matched their specific requirements.
Deployment time was around two to three months, Mystakidis said, but more time should have been spent focusing on the integration of the new systems with the existing ones which required more effort than anticipated.
“We have improved our incident detection capabilities, including identifying faults faster and completing repairs more quickly,” he said. “I would say we have saved up to 10 minutes on identification and root-cause analysis for each incident.”
The company also chose EMC for storage from a list of candidates including Storage Tech, Hitachi, IBM and Dell. It deployed the Clarion CX4-960, which joined the existing Clarion CX3-80, to support 960 drives and 1899 Terabytes (TB) of raw capacity.
“With demand for shared storage growing off the chart, we needed a networked storage system that could support all new customer acquisitions and expansions.
“Over the last 12 months alone, we increased our data volumes by 500 per cent relative to the last eight years.”
It also deployed EMC virtual provisioning technology which enabled a large, pooled volume of storage capacity to individual servers which is only allocated when it is required.
“This means there are far fewer configuration changes required to make storage available as needed, reducing the management load on our IT function here and enabling our staff to spend more time on strategic tasks.”
An additional four EMC storage arrays also support individual customers requiring dedicated as opposed to shared storage systems.
According to Mystakidis, the $1.5 million deployment of the EMC storage and monitoring platforms will decrease Macquarie Telecom’s operating costs by at least $260,000 over the next three years.
In a project of the calibre, Mystakidis said it is essential to be clear on what the business process and how that process exists within the operations framework.
“I think you need to have a clear scope on what the objectives are and what they hope to achieve at the end so the project stays on track and also to determine whether it has been a success or not.
“The other area to consider is how this system connects or feeds into other systems, the more feeds and connections the higher the value the system can provide.”
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