Storing it the IP way
L&T Hazira's Heavy Engineering Division chose IP over
Fibre Channel for its SAN to save costs and to utilise the IP skills of its
L&Ts Heavy Engineering Division (HED) in Hazira (Gujarat) needed
to evolve from its DAS environment and build an infrastructure that offered
better data discipline, security, and capacity. A SAN was an obvious choice
and L&T HED took that route. However, it chose to go with IP instead of
Fibre Channel (FC). The IP SAN solution provides high data availability, reliability,
security, and doesnt need extra technical manpower, since the existing
workforce is familiar with IP.
Business at HED
The IT team of L&Ts HED in Hazira.
V A Khargonkar
, Deputy General Manager,
IT in the centre
Located 300 km north of Mumbai, L&Ts HED designs
and manufactures hi-tech custom-built fabricated equipment for core sectors
such as oil and gas, refineries, petrochemicals, and fertilisers. The division
comprises eight Strategic Business Units (SBUs) and six manufacturing plants
located in different parts of the country.
The Hazira campus is spread over 2.5 sq. km. and the Gigabit LAN runs on a Cisco
Layer 3 backbone switch. The infrastructure offers services such as Baan ERP,
intranet, e-mail, Web, and file & print to around 500 workstations.
The DAS Days
The organisation used a number of Intel and Sun servers and
relied on DAS to fulfil its information storage needs. For a while, DAS proved
to be a cost effective and adequate storage solution to support various enterprise
applications. DAS devices such as DLT and DAT drives were physically connected
to the host servers through a SCSI cable, and performed periodic backup and
restore functions. Over time, the limitations of DAS began to surface.
In a typical DAS environment, each storage device is connected to a single server
and storage can only be viewed and accessed through the OS of the attached server.
As a result, when there are multiple storage and server pairs it becomes
increasingly difficult for the IT staff to manage and track data on each individual
server, explained V A Khargonkar, Deputy General Manager, IT, L&T.
The DAS environment needed considerable time and effort for backup and restoration.
Each DAS island required that data be streamed across the network to the backup
or restore systems, which lead to heavy network utilisation. In the past, this
was not an issue due to a big backup window, but as business expanded, it posed
Networked storage and IP
We wanted to introduce data discipline and security in the storage infrastructure,
and wanted to consolidate the architecture. So we decided to invest in a centralised
storage solution, says Khargonkar.
After the decision to use networked storage, the company looked at several optionsNAS
servers, FC and IP SANs. It decided to go with an IP SAN as it wanted the benefits
of a SAN along with the cost-effectiveness and easy manageability of IP. This
was especially relevant because the existing IT workforce was well versed in
After evaluating a number of storage vendors, the company decided to purchase
IP SAN solutions from Intransa. A key criterion for choosing the IP SAN
solution was the need of a storage solution that made use of existing skill
sets. We were delighted to find during the pilot phase that the IP SAN solution
could be implemented and managed with no major retraining of our staff. This
certainly made a big difference, explained Khargonkar.
- The company: L&T Hazira (Gujarat)
designs and manufactures hi-tech custom built fabricated equipment for
core sector industries such as oil & gas, refineries, petrochemicals,
and fertilisers. It has a 2.5 sq. km. campus LAN with 500 workstations
running applications such as Baan ERP, e-mail, intranet, Web and file
- The need: It had to evolve its DAS storage
environment to a more reliable, secure, cost efficient, and flexible
- The solution: The company chose to deploy
an IP SAN solution.
- The benefits: The solution is scalable
since new capacity can be added on the fly. Backups are simple to make,
and availability of data is high. The cost of storage per MB is low,
and since it is IP-based, there is no need for extra, trained manpower.
The IP SAN at L&T Hazira
L&T Hazira deployed Intransa IP5000, which is a modular, IP-based block-storage
SAN array with 4 to 24 TB of raw capacity. It consists of a storage controller
module and a disk enclosure, which centralises storage devices to make them
available across a network.
Superior Utilisation at a Lower Cost
We were finally able to manage our growing storage resources and ensure
data availability across the enterprise network. All this at significantly lower
cost per MB of data stored, said Khargonkar.
The solution delivers superior resource utilisation by reducing the need to
purchase individual servers for increased storage needs.
If we need to add more storage capacity, all we have to do is mount a
new disk enclosure in the rack and plug the Ethernet cable to the Gigabit Ethernet
switch, explained Khargonkar. The IP5000 storage controller will automatically
recognise the new disks and make free space available to provision and host
Khargonkar said, The solution dramatically improves the efficiency of
the spare storage capacity by creating a global spare for all the disks in the
system so that when a failure occurs, the IP5000 will automatically put the
spare to use.
The iSCSI-based solution also simplifies clustering and management of the storage
system with a StorControl management tool that lets system administrators manage
and monitor the entire IP5000 system, automate tasks, and even assign individual
Administrators can increase storage capacity on the fly with a simple
drag and drop function of the volume bar. This resource allocation
dramatically simplifies how the company plans and allocates its storage capacity,
dynamically assigns unused capacity to servers during times of high demand,
and reallocates that same space when it is no longer needed.
The company currently uses around 35 percent of the IP SANs capacity.
Backups Become Simpler
With the help of the IP SAN architecture, the company created a centralised
pool of storage to ease its backup and restore methods and reduce completion
time. Backups are now run directly on the back-end storage network rather than
the user-facing front-end. An incremental backup of all the servers can be bypassed
by leveraging Intransas snapshot technology.
The previous DAS configuration required tape cartridges to be physically changed
on each server. The IP SAN enables the continuously growing backup log files
to be kept online. This facilitates the rapid identification of archived data
for restoration. Data can be restored from disk by mounting a snapshot volume.
A snapshot home directory has been created so that users can complete restoration
on their own. This reduces help desk requests freeing IT technicians to spend
their time on other projects.
The company faced a number of technology and administrative
challenges when it built its storage infrastructure. There were some problems
in the installation of clusters, and in printer management.
The workforce was used to storing their data on DAS devices. It was a challenge
to convince them to store the business-critical information on the centralised
system. Users also had to be trained to log into the storage domain instead
of the NDS. Although we had to face these challenges in the beginning,
we were able to find effective workarounds, said Khargonkar.
He created a storage policy document and manages the storage infrastructure
according to it. The policy contains information on data retention, security,
On the Anvil
Till now, L&T Hazira has performed consolidation of the enterprises
information, which includes files and drawings. In the next phase, the organisation
will look at storage systems for its Informix database. The company also plans
to implement a box-to-box mirroring solution for disaster recovery.
With updates from Priya Jain