Consolidation pays off at VSNL
At VSNL the needs of business compel the company to use appropriate
technology. In this context, it is essential that the storage systems powering
its IT infrastructure are top of the line. by Anil Patrick R
When you talk about Indian ISPs, the name that immediately comes to mind is
VSNL (Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited). Six months ago, VSNL used DAS devices for
its storage needs. But being the country's largest ISP demanded that it should
upgrade to a more efficient storage architecture due to the ever-increasing
The organization realized that the primary business need was to consolidate
the storage spread over multiple DAS devices. The benefits of this approach
would be manifold. It would allow flexibility to handle failures and cut down
costs of incremental storage.
This was crucial for a service provider like VSNL where downtime is fatal to
business. It was determined that a SAN was the optimal solution for these requirements.
"The primary need was to have a storage solution that would give us the
flexibility to handle failures and cut down on the costs of incremental storage.
In addition to these, we required high-speed connectivity that could be achieved
only by using a SAN," said Dr Saurav Dutta, Dy. General Manager (Systems),
Architecture to store
The storage solution used in VSNL can be divided into two systems. The first
storage system is used for Internet messaging and the second system for voice,
data, and network analyzer applications.
The Internet messaging applications are powered by a SAN from HDS. The SAN has
a storage capacity of 2 TB that is scalable up to 5 TB. This storage powers
a billing solution (portal using an Oracle database backend) and a Netscape
With the introduction of the SAN, VSNL has been able to achieve a considerable
reduction in storage costs. This is due to the costs saved from avoiding incremental
According to Dr Dutta, VSNL's savings due to the SAN solution have been sizeable.
"We have been able to achieve around forty percent savings in purchase
and deployment costs. This includes savings due to the use of the huge virtual
storage pool achieved by the consolidation of devices," said Dr Dutta.
Wastage of storage space is another important aspect, which was avoided due
to the use of a SAN. In SANs, all that is seen is a single large virtual file
system. This allows the company to use the storage in the most optimal way.
This has translated to a lot of savings for VSNL, since the nature of its business
needs constant storage upgrades.
Future plans for VSNL are to upgrade the SAN capacity to 5 TB. This is a hassle-free
arrangement due to the innate SAN architecture. "It is possible to just
plug in hard disks and upgrade up to 5 TB. This calls for no measures like software
upgrades," said Dr Dutta.