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Issue of September 2004 

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Case Studies

Indian Companies Have it in Store

Indian enterprises are increasingly using effective storage strategies to control their growing storage infrastructure. Here's how some of them are doing it. by Soutiman Das Gupta

Many Indian companies have adopted Information Lifecycle Management, and with good results. Here, we feature case studies and opinions of user companies and CIOs that have deployed some aspects of the ILM specifications in their storage networks. In some instances the companies may not have used ILM-specific policies, but we have included them because the organized approach of storage management is itself reflective of ILM.

Storage Strategies for a Better Life

HDFC Standard Life Insurance deployed a storage architecture that allows the company to switch protocols and share files between different environments without the need to make infrastructure changes.

The company manages vital customer and internal information on its storage infrastructure, which is its lifeline. Being dedicated to the service of its policy holders, the company had to introduce systems and applications that would store vital personal and financial data of its large customer base in a secure and reliable manner.

It deployed a well-planned enterprise storage solution and can now easily share, access, back up, and archive business-related information. The networked storage works over multiple platforms, protocols, and applications, and will keep providing storage management benefits to the company in the long run.

The company faced business challenges, such as manual processes and slow coordination between policyholders, agents, and customers. It needed a robust storage architecture that could support the various applications and processes.

Applications Need Storage

HDFC Standard Life uses FileNet Image service server, which manages all the scanned document images in cache files and in the storage library. A Staffware server manages the flow of work items in the enterprise application.

The company runs a database server which has two configured databases - one for FileNet Image services, and one for Staffware and Wonders application data. The network uses Lotus Notes and hardware severs from Dell.

The company is planning to develop a central repository that would take care of all unstructured data to facilitate online access for its customers, policyholders, and shareholders.

The Solution

Here are the highlights of the solution deployed in the primary location in Mumbai:

  • NetApp FAS 940 unit with CIFS, iSCSI protocols
  • SnapRestore, SnapShots, SnapMirror
  • Windows 2000 platform

The protocols used for each application are as follows:

  • Magnetic Storage And Retrieval (MSAR) uses the CIFS protocol.
  • Image Services Cache uses iSCSI
  • MKF/Index database on Oracle uses CIFS
  • Staffware database on Oracle uses CIFS

The data volumes were configured on the NetApp FAS940 filer in the existing Windows 2000 domain. Three volumes were created to store the user data from Oracle database, FileNet datasets, backlog images, and MSAR.

Volume 1 and 3 are accessed using the UNC naming convention and CIFS protocol. Volume 2 is dedicated as an iSCSI volume and the FileNet datasets are stored on the iSCSI Logical Unit Number (LUN) created on the second volume.

Users can access the backlog images over a public network, while the database share and the iSCSI LUN are accessed using the private network. A virtual interface has been configured to provide high availability for network connectivity.

The database and the application present on the Dell Servers were migrated to the filer by sharing the network drives and mounting the iSCSI LUN respectively. The application and the database binaries continue to run on the Dell servers.

The Benefits

The storage solution allows HDFC Standard Life to improve collaboration among its employees through easy sharing and accessing of business-related information. It also provides easy scanning, indexing, and storing of documents such as proposal forms, age proofs, checklists, tax returns, and medical reports, in a flexible and secure environment, easily accessed and shared among users.

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