by Hamish Barwick

Defence Housing Australia upgrades storage for future data needs

Jan 23, 20143 mins
GovernmentGovernment IT

Defence Housing Australia (DHA) has rolled out new storage hardware to improve its backup and disaster recovery requirements.

DHA provides housing and related services to Department of Defence members and their families in Australia. It is responsible for 18,000 properties with a total value of approximately $10 billion. DHA also provides IT services and support to 19 housing management centres across Australia.

The Hitachi Unified Storage (HUS) replaced an eight-year-old Hitachi storage system. The HUS platform features dynamic storage tiering. According to the vendor, this helps improve database performance by keeping frequently used data, such as indexes, on solid state drives. In addition, archived data is stored on a different storage tier.

DHA CIO Shane Nielsen said the previous storage system was reaching end of life and no longer met its needs.

“We now have a reliable, scalable and cost effective storage infrastructure for our long-term data storage, management and retention requirements.”

At the same time HUS was implemented, DHA moved from a government data centre to a co-location facility in Canberra during 2013. The migration took three months.

“A lot of basic functions [in the data centre] were starting to age such as air conditioning so we wanted to get improved levels of redundancy and power. We felt it was a better opportunity to take advantage of co-location facilities.”

DHA is looking at off-site tape backups, Nielsen said.

“We want to understand how we further improve the concept of [data] retrieval and bringing the overall cost of off-site backups down.”

DHA has been on a system upgrade program since last year. In July 2013, it implemented two Oracle SPARC T5 servers to support the production environment.

At the time Nielsen told CIO Australia that it was expecting a 30 per cent reduction in rack space required within its data centres and a reduction in the number of servers from 11 to four.

“We are also expecting reduced power consumption, aiming for at least 50 per cent improvement, due to fewer servers and efficiencies in the new hardware,” he said.

DHA also replaced a 15-year-old Financial Management Information System (FMIS). Nielsen said the old FMIS had a “number of inefficiencies” and required a high level of manual systems.

In November 2013, Nielsen announced that he had equipped about 150 property managers with iPad Minis. An application was developed in-house that would allow them to access information in real time to help them carry out their work activities more efficiently, as well as enter data into DHA’s core systems while out in the field.

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