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Arup sorts storage problem with de-duplication

Architecture and engineering firm achieves 92 per cent space saving on general data storage
Arup Australia and Singapore regional IT leader Clive Bortz.

Arup Australia and Singapore regional IT leader Clive Bortz.

The Australian arm of global architecture and engineering firm, Arup, has been able to better manage its estimated 1 petabyte of total data following the implementation of de-duplication technology.

According to the company’s Australia and Singapore regional IT leader Clive Bortz, it has been able to achieve a 92 per cent space saving on general data storage and a 77 per cent space saving on application servers since the CommVault implementation in November 2011. Arup has also reduced the frequency of off-site tape storage collection from daily to weekly.

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“Because we have a relatively small [IT] team that looks after a lot of things, everyone has to be skilled across a number of technologies,” he told CIO Australia.

According to Bortz, the data growth at Arup Australia since he joined the firm in 2001 has been “huge”.

For example, when the IT department migrated the Sydney office in 2005 to a new system, this office only had 65 gigabytes of email and 500 gigabytes of data.

“Now we have approximately 20 terabytes of email just for the Sydney office. A lot of that [data growth] has been due to the applications available to our engineering staff,” he said.

Arup Australia project delivery team leader Stephen White added that it keeps approximately 20 terabytes of data at its offices in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

“All data is sitting on file servers but we keep a second copy of the data held at each office on a second file server which is sitting on a separate storage area network [SAN],” White said.

This means Arup has complete redundancy of systems within each office. If disaster strikes and there is a system failure, the company can transfer users across to the backup system.

“With CommVault we can now restore our de-duplicated data in less than an hour rather than the days it may have taken with our legacy processes,” White added.

Return on investment

In addition to improving data management, Bortz said the company has reduced its overheads as prior to the implementation; it had a system manager at each of the major Australian offices who was responsible for backup.

“We used to run five backup tape systems and each of those personnel were effectively managing, patching and maintaining independent backup systems,” he said.

Arup Australia now has just two dedicated backup specialists in its IT department.

Mobile workforce

As Bortz’s IT department is responsible for managing 1700 staff across both Australia and Singapore, his greatest challenge is making data available for people who are working remotely.

“We have virtual private network [VPN] and we use caching services as well based on the applications,” he said.

“Depending on if it is an engineer or designer, they might need to have access to a powerful machine or need to access the application from a tablet when they are working remotely.”

In order to better manage this, Bortz is currently reviewing a couple of mobile device management (MDM) offerings with the view to rolling out a global MDM system sometime in 2013.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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