Tiered storage gives elevator company a lift
Lutz Aufzüge installs, maintains and modernizes elevators worldwide for the shipping industry. Founded in 1927, the German company was one of the world’s first specialist elevator companies. It employs around 200 people at sites in Hannover, Berlin and Reinbek.
Like most heavy manufacturing businesses, Lutz Aufzüge creates large volumes of data related to product design and construction. Data integrity is crucial, as its marine elevators are purchased by leading shipbuilders in China, Japan and Korea, as well as cruise operators and luxury yacht owners.
Data loads are also increasing significantly as design software advances to deliver three-dimensional drawings that add to the demands of daily operations. Oliver Nedden, chief information officer (CIO) at Lutz Aufzüge, says, “It is what the market wants, and of course it demands a lot more storage space.”
Apart from the design stage, the company collects a lot of data during the production stage and when engineers service the elevators. “We intend to service each of our elevators throughout its entire life cycle, which usually means 20 to 40 years or more. We record every action, every regulation passed and every certificate gained,” says Nedden.
Seeking scalable yet simple storage
Nedden estimates that the company’s storage needs are growing at around 20% per year but admits that the ongoing process of migrating paper records into digital formats makes capacity planning a challenge. Only one full-time IT hardware specialist and one part-time administrator are responsible for the company’s IT, including its 120 desktops. Nedden says, “We needed a new data storage solution that would have a low impact on IT staff and expand more easily with our business requirements.”
Lutz Aufzüge looked for a modular platform capable of handling all its long-term storage needs. Nedden evaluated proposals from EMC, IBM and HP before speaking to BoSch Data, which demonstrated Dell™ Compellent™ storage arrays with Dell Fluid Data™ architecture. Nedden knew the Dell approach would be right for Lutz Aufzüge. “Some of the vendors we spoke to were inflexible in their licensing models and growth plans. In contrast, Dell Compellent storage offered unrivalled technical features and straightforward licensing.”
Accelerating data tiering and virtualization
Lutz Aufzüge deployed Dell Compellent Storage Center™ storage arrays at its data center in Reinbek. The storage is connected to five physical servers and comprises dual controllers with a total storage capacity of 24TB. Tiering the data are three shelves of Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) disks, which run at two different speeds. The storage supports the company’s main systems, including Oracle® and Microsoft® SQL Server® databases, Microsoft Terminal Serv1er and multiple Linux® OS–based servers.
The storage environment also supports a virtualized instance of Microsoft Exchange Server running on Microsoft Windows Server® 2008 R2, as well as BlackBerry Enterprise Server. It provides capacity for a virtual infrastructure based on VMware® software, where four physical servers power around 30 virtual machines and the company’s Microsoft Windows® OS–based virtual desktops.
Nedden explains, “During virtualization, we decided to split different tasks across servers — for example, one server for print tasks, one for security and so on — giving us greater flexibility. We’re now seeing the systems running more intelligently, which is especially true for the application server, which is running about 25% faster.”
Cutting costs while enhancing performance
Lutz Aufzüge significantly reduced storage costs by tiering data based on actual usage. In the Compellent arrays, the most active blocks reside on the high-performance drives, while infrequently accessed data migrates to lower-cost, high-capacity drives. The result is network storage that’s both scalable for future data growth and in tune with application needs.
The company uses the Dell Compellent Fast Track feature to enhance automated data tiering. The software is designed to dynamically place the most frequently accessed data on the quickest, or outer, tracks of each drive. This approach enables fast access to frequently used data with fewer drives than conventional enterprise network storage systems. As a result, the IT team can purchase low-cost drives without sacrificing performance.
Optimizing storage management
Using the Dell Compellent Enterprise Manager feature, Nedden and his colleagues can focus on key IT projects instead of storage management. Plus, the team can comfortably manage the expanding IT infrastructure, so the company doesn’t need to employ additional IT staff. “I’d estimate that we now spend just 30 minutes a week managing data,” says Nedden. “With Dell Compellent, we’re managing data transparently for the whole company. We’re maintaining ticketed support for 120 user desktops with one full-time and one part-time IT employee, which is a good measure of the solution’s success.”
Lutz Aufzüge now plans to buy another Compellent storage array to help improve disaster recovery through remote replication and integrated backups. Until then, full monthly backups and daily incremental backups are stored using a robotic tape library with removable media. Nedden says, “This is something to consider in the future, but right now we just let the Dell Compellent solution handle data management — we have very little need to interfere.”
2.1 million digitized pages made possible
The CIO of elevator company Lutz Aufzüge, Oliver Nedden, estimates that his company’s storage needs are growing at around 20% per year. He admits, however, that the ongoing process of migrating paper records into digital formats makes capacity planning a challenge.
As a result of the time savings introduced by the company’s Dell Compellent storage system, the IT team can focus on a major project in which approximately 200,000 documents are being digitized. “Because we’re scanning multiple PDFs, there are actually many more real documents in the system,” says Nedden. “We’ve scanned about 7,000 folders that contain about 300 pages of A4, so we’re talking about 2.1 million pages. We will nearly double the volume and number of documents this year and then data growth will slow.”
Technology in practice
- Dell Compellent Storage Center storage arrays
- Dell Compellent Data Progression
- Dell Compellent Enterprise Manager
- Dell Compellent Fast Track
For more information on tiered storage, download the white paper: qrs.ly/po2c3uz