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News

Storage Virtualisation For Tennis Association

DataCore Software : 30 June, 2010  (Application Story)
The well-known All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club has modernized its data storage and disaster recovery capability with the use of SANsymphony virtualized storage environment from DataCore
DataCore Software has announced that the prestigious All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, host of the world's most famous tennis tournament, Wimbledon, is using DataCore's SANsymphony as its storage backbone.

As one of the world's top sporting events, Wimbledon attracts the World's top tennis stars, along with tens of thousands of spectators and millions of viewers via television and the Internet. As such, you would expect there is a complex IT and support infrastructure that supports an IT population that swells from 200 to 6,000 users across a three-week period.

Running everything to do with IT security and data integrity is Andrew Jones, IT Infrastructure & Security Analyst at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, who is one of seven from the IT Department responsible for the platforms and infrastructure that ensure the smooth running of critical operations at the Club.

Jones noted, "Our initial requirement was to reduce the costs of deploying and running our CCTV system. The system had a very high storage requirement - between 16-20 TBs as a monthly load which we then intended to overwrite - and this was even at a heavily compressed rate." Footage has also increased dramatically (for instance the new state-of-the-art Centre Court moving roof contains four cameras provide a birds-eye view on Centre Court proceedings). Andrew recognized that pools of data this large needed to be linked into the existing storage area network (SAN), but also recognized that this integration would provide management headaches and significant strain on the present SAN backbone of an IBM Fibre Channel SAN Storage 4300 solution. The IBM SAN was effective and provided great data mirroring, facilitating the VMware ESX server virtualisation, but the Club realized that to accommodate this level of generated data, it required a cost-effective, flexible storage solution for CCTV that would have otherwise entailed the purchase of numerous additional trays of disks.

DataCore's SANsymphony solution was identified as being able to address the Club's present and future needs; including critically the mammoth expansion on the network usage throughout the run-up, duration and immediately following the Championship. Previously the distinct peaks throughout June and July each year had to be facilitated by additional hardware, which then was effectively unused for the remainder of the year. In addition, the Club took the opportunity to tie-in an effective Disaster Recovery solution (including the implementation of a full-scale, offsite DR emergency center).

The DataCore proposal showed a staggering £15,000 immediate capital savings outlay compared to the alternative of allocating more disks to cope with demand. With such compelling financial and business benefits, the business case was easy to justify to the Board.

The flexibility of the proposal prompted the Club to place an order for three SANsymphony nodes in late 2008, which run on IBM servers and complement IBM standard DS3400 storage arrays. Two were housed in the separate Wimbledon data centers in a mirrored environment for failover purposes and it was proposed that the third would be housed at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton for full DR purposes.

One of the first noted effects of SANsymphony was the ease of administration. Previously the team had to manage five different interfaces at any one time, controlling everything from switches and storage arrays - to the iSCSI/FC management interfaces. With SANsymphony, Andrew noted, "Everything is now presented to the DataCore Virtualisation servers, which through a drag and drop interface control all aspects of the SAN. From an administration perspective there is a lot less to monitor, control and manage."

Even without the full offsite DR plan being implemented, the Club has benefited from SANsymphony's automatic failover configuration. Ongoing building works around Centre Court at the Club entailed the brief loss of fibre connectivity. The resultant effect on the SAN was negligible. SANsymphony's auto-failover kicked in, simply switching the servers to the mirrored site and causing no loss of data or applications.

The third SANsymphony server has been allocated to the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, some three miles away. This way, in the event of a dramatic loss of functionality (hosting the world's most prestigious tennis tournament means that security at the Club is treated very seriously), the third SANsymphony can provide asynchronous mirroring and snapshotting. This means that almost instantly - in a full scale disaster - the entire system can be back up and running with only a five minute lag in data availability.

SANsymphony's scalable approach provides additional reassurance and room to grow. Adding more storage is now a question of simply purchasing additional licenses. Complex provisioning and rezoning of disks is a thing of the past. Moreover, as data storage grows and retained digital image sizes increase, the team is now confident that in the future they can instantly serve back large files such as video restore.

Andrew summarizes, "With DataCore's SANsymphony solution running effectively, we have moved the Club's infrastructure into the next layer of availability and flexibility. It really has provided a cost-effective alternative that added needed flexibility to our traditional hardware approach."
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