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Issue of May 2006 
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Enterprise storage

Mindful of IP in the SAN

Wipro BPO chose IP SAN technology for easier manageability and lower costs


Rajiv Gerela

Wipro BPO had to deploy suitable networked storage infrastructure to take control of the changing business and IT environment. The size and volume of stored data was increasing at a fast pace, and new devices were being added every other day.

The company decided to deploy a SAN in order to organise its information assets better. It chose IP SAN technology because it was based on IP and easy to manage, required no extra manpower training, and was cost-effective.

Growing Business and IT

“To cater to the needs of the growing business and data sizes, we regularly added new servers. In addition we had to deploy more tape devices, attached directly or networked, to ensure that the growing corporate data was backed up reliably and within shrinking backup windows,” says Rajiv Gerela, General Manager, Technology, Wipro BPO Solutions.

The delay in retrieving data often hampered the effectiveness of frontline executives. Faced with data management issues and mounting storage costs, the company decided to look for a centralised and virtualised storage solution, which would not only allow Wipro to easily provision additional storage on the network but also enable data backup and restore in a near-online mode.

The Move to IP SAN

The company chose to move directly to IP SAN instead of playing safe with the tried and tested FC technology. The storage infrastructure is built around Intransa’s IP 5000 solution, which is a modular block storage array. The current storage capacity is 1.5 TB, scalable to 24 TB. There are two Pentium 4 servers with 1 GB RAM running Windows 2000. The switching infrastructure uses Gigabit Ethernet.

“The solution allows us to take snapshots at a point in time on alternate volumes and thus helps reduce incremental tape backup requirements,” explains Gerela.

Mission-Critical Apps

The IP SAN infrastructure runs a number of applications that are mission-critical for the company. They are:

  • MIS for different functions or processes
  • Employee databases
  • Billing databases
  • Intranet knowledge-based sites for different processes
  • Mail store
  • File server

MIS and billing databases are the most critical applications since they are used for revenue tracking. The intranet knowledge base is critical for effectively training new recruits, while the mail or file store is important for business-critical data such as mail, client communications and performance scores.

IP SAN-ity

The IP SAN has benefitted Wipro in several ways. The cost per MB of storage is low. “We are now able to dynamically grow and provision our storage to individual hosts and expand volumes for individual applications or users with no disruptions or downtime on the server. This is a significant improvement over our previous DAS configuration,” reveals Gerela.

There is no need for additional manpower that is trained in FC technology since the existing workforce is adept at IP. The infrastructure also allows fast backups and restores, saving valuable time.

In Future

As business grows and new devices are introduced to the network the company does not need to extensively change its information storage infrastructure. The infrastructure has the flexibility to increase capacity to any new application or server requirement. Any new investment is only incremental in terms of hardware and costs.

“We will no longer need to provision new DAS setups, saving a lot on the extra disks required for each setup to get the required RAID levels,” explains Gerela.

He adds, “Today, we have grown applications using the SAN. For this growth we did not need to add any new storage setup, but just increased the capacity within the existing box. An example is the call centre setup where we are required to record the agent’s voice and screen to enforce quality and to detect misuse. This needs heavy storage.”

Wipro BPO has increased their SAN storage by several TB but has not invested in additional servers as only drives and enclosures have worked. Thus it has saved cost, time and maintenance apart from space for these huge requirements.

With updates from Priya Jain

 
     
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