Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution upgrades storage for future growth

Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution upgrades storage for future growth

Production environment could reach 6 terabytes of storage in future, says CIO Andrew Alpe

The Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution (RFBI) has upgraded its storage to cater for 6 terabytes of growth in the future.

Founded in 1880, the Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution (RFBI) provides aged care to approximately 2,200 clients in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. RFBI operates 20 self-care villages, 19 hostels, four nursing homes and six aged care programs. It employs 1,100 staff.

In November 2013, RFBI’s storage infrastructure was ageing. Bottlenecks in the HP storage area network (SAN) were beginning to have an impact on applications, leading to performance issues and frustration from RFBI users.

RFBI CIO Andrew Alpe said the ageing storage area network (SAN) was supporting a range of systems including email, enterprise resource planning (ERP), clinical care packages and an Intranet network.

“At that point, we realised the HP SAN we had in place would not be able to provide the performance that we would need," he said.

A tender was issued in November 2013. After testing offerings from Dell, NetApp, HP and Nimble, RFBI selected Nimble’s CS220G storage array system.

“As we only have an IT team of four people, we wanted a storage system that would be easy to manage,” he said. “One of the challenges with the existing storage infrastructure had been that had to call in experts to help or arrange extra training for our staff.”

RFBI called on its technology partner Quorum Systems to implement the storage system.

“When you are migrating your entire environment onto a new infrastructure, there is always going to be some issues. However, with assistance from Quorum everything went smoothly.”

According to Alpe, only minimal training on the storage infrastructure was needed.

“If you can use a Web interface, you can use Nimble. It’s like the iOS of the SAN world,” he said.

In its old storage environment, RFBI had been using different disk types for different tasks. For example, high performance disks were used to support its production environment while low cost disks were used for backups

Now it can use one disk, change the configuration and storage allocations as its needs change.

In addition, storage bottlenecks are no longer an issue. The SAN is running at peaks of around 1,200 input/output operations per second (IOPS) and can handle 15,000 IOPS, said Alpe.

This capacity will be needed in the future as it looks to expand its production environment up to 6 terabytes of storage, he said.

Turning to other IT projects, RFBI is looking at its disaster recovery (DR) strategy for 2015.

“Part of my IT planning that I need to go to the board is to look at different DR controls and levels. At the moment, we have a DR failover but it isn’t in real-time. What we are looking to do with Nimble in the future is put in a second [storage] array and replicate that environment to give us a quicker recovery and restore time,” he said.

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Tags storageHealthcarenimble storageRoyal Freemasons' Benevolent InstitutionAndrew Alpe

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