Australian Catholic University centralises storage

Friday, 13 March, 2009

Australian Catholic University (ACU) is a public university founded in 1991 as the result of the amalgamation of several Catholic colleges of higher education. It has six campuses across four states and territories, including almost 14,000 students and more than 3000 staff.

The university had a decentralised storage model across six campuses, with a complex and time-consuming management process. It needed to consolidate data storage and have a disaster recovery site due to a dramatic increase in storage requirements.

ACU engaged XSI Data Solutions, a NetApp Platinum partner, to design, supply and implement a network storage solution that encompassed equipment and services for consolidated data storage, backup, archiving and disaster recovery.

To meet the challenge, XSI provided the university with two NetApp FAS3020 storage systems, one of which was installed at the North Sydney campus, to be used as the main data centre. The second was installed as a disaster recovery site at the Melbourne campus.

The FAS3020 is part of the NetApp midrange enterprise storage range, which can be used for SAN or NAS-based systems, for primary or secondary storage and upgraded easily as an organisation’s needs change.

These units provide NAS-based file-sharing capability for the university’s common internet file system (CIFS) and network file system (NFS) requirements, in addition to fibre-channel connectivity for critical Oracle and SQL applications. The FAS3020 arrays were also configured with NetApp’s SnapMirror software, which provided bandwidth-efficient replication between ACU’s production and disaster recovery centres.

Both of the FAS3020 storage systems were initially configured with identical storage and connectivity: 14 300 GB Fibre-Channel disks, 14 500 GB SATA disks, four FC SAN ports and four gigabit ethernet ports.

Each FAS3020 system supports up to 84 TB of disk storage, up to 20 FC SAN ports and 24 ethernet ports, catering for all of ACU’s projected storage needs.

Wil Daniels, Infrastructure Manager, IT for Australian Catholic University, says, “We went with the NetApp solution for several reasons. The main one was that it offered us a hybrid storage solution, which meant we weren’t committed to an environment that was solely SAN based.

“We needed a high-speed link between our main data centre and our disaster recovery site which would be active and reliable over lower bandwidth, which is something the NetApp solution offered.

“The solution we chose allows us to have centralised storage across all six campuses of the university, plus a disaster recovery site which mirrors the main site, all of which integrates easily with our existing systems and services.”

Daniels continues, “There is a long list of benefits the university is reaping as a result of the NetApp installation from XSI. Primarily, the university now has a high-performance, resilient, secure and reliable data storage facility. “Overall, we have experienced increased productivity due to the fact that we’ve been able to consolidate the administration of six systems into one.

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