Learn why the National Trust for Scotland partnered with Trustco to install a tiered storage solution to significantly boost performance.
Established in 1931, the National Trust for Scotland is a conservation charity that protects and promotes Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations to enjoy.
The Trust owns and manages around 130 properties and 180,000 acres of land, including castles, ancient small dwellings, historic sites, gardens, and remote rural areas. Its current membership stands at around 310,000 members.
Scott Newton, Head of IT for the National Trust for Scotland heads up an IT team of 10 across the estate. The Trust’s IT infrastructure is called upon to support over 500 full-time and 700 seasonal staff and approximately 4,000 volunteers.
When Scott joined the company in early 2013 he inherited an aging IT infrastructure which was in urgent need of modernisation. This was causing his department considerable technical problems and was proving difficult to support. Rather than fix individual issues, Scott opted to roll out a full IT upgrade and part of this programme was to address and centralise the Trust’s data storage infrastructure.
After thoroughly researching the data storage market, Scott came across Trustco.
Trustco helped clearly define the Trust’s requirement from the outset. This included talking through the Trust’s 5 year IT plan to ensure that any solution provided would be easily scalable to support future upgrades.
Being a charity, it was also agreed that the solution would have to be as cost effective as possible and a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) plan would need to be established from the outset.
Technically, the solution would need to support a new VMware vSphere virtualised platform hosting I/O intensive applications including multiple Microsoft SQL databases and specialist IT systems for charity management.
Finally the new storage platform would have to be simple to manage to allow the IT team to proactively monitor and manage the performance of the SAN moving forward.
The Appraisal Process
Trustco constantly monitor the industry for new products from both established and new vendors.
Taking into account the performance required and budget available, Trustco suggested that the Dot Hill’s AssuredSAN Pro 5000 solution would be a great fit for the Trust as it would provide the perfect balance between speed, capacity and cost to meet Scott’s needs.
The AssuredSAN Pro 5000 delivers real-time tiering, thin provisioning, and rapid RAID rebuild, with an intuitive web user interface. It automatically manages ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ data in real-time and responds minute by minute, moving the most heavily accessed data up to the SSD tier, while detecting less active data and moving it to a lower, less expensive, HDD tier.
From a financial perspective, there are no hidden future costs or ongoing licence fees when looking to add new features or expand storage capacity.
Finally, RealStor, Dot Hill’s built in management software, has a simple, intuitive GUI which would allow Scott’s IT team to remove guesswork by simplifying the monitoring and management process.
Intrigued by automated data tiering, Scott invited Dot Hill along with three other leading storage manufacturers to attend a demonstration day so each solution could be technically and financially appraised.
During the appraisal, Scott found that Dot Hill was the only solution to offer fully automated data tiering and real-time data migration, all the other systems performed data migration as a batch process. This was a major attraction for Scott.
Following on from the demonstration day Scott worked with Trustco on the technical design, product configuration and established a firm TCO for this solution.
Trustco took care of the procurement management with Dot Hill and managed to negotiate a competitive price for the National Trust for Scotland.
Pleased that the solution would meet and surpass his original objectives at an attractive price, Scott proceeded with the AssuredSAN Pro 5000 solution. Trustco’s project management team, combined with Dot Hill’s support and maintenance services ensured a smooth installation.
When asked how this solution performed against his expectations, Scott replied; “Dot Hill’s AssuredSAN solutions’ scalable nature allows us to upgrade in small steps and expand as required. The autonomic, real-time data tiering is very smart. By prioritising data in real-time the system has improved performance dramatically and our storage infrastructure is now reliable and resilient to meet future plans.”
Impressed with the outcome of this initial project, Scott has since nominated Trustco to deliver two additional Dot Hill AssuredSAN 3004 storage arrays to provide backup for increased resilience.
Scott commented; “I love Trustco’s transparent pricing, they provide a one-off upfront cost and as a charity, a clear TCO from the outset is very important.
“Our Account Manager at Trustco continues to be exceptional but the whole team really went the extra mile on this project to ensure we received a cost effective, high performing solution.”
N.B. Since this case study was published, Seagate Technology have acquired Dot Hill Systems.