Friday, 06 June 2014 15:18

Second time lucky with Tivoli Storage Manager at Allianz


Insurer Allianz Australia successfully rationalised its approach to backup, but the journey wasn't plain sailing.

Allianz Australia Unix systems administrator Bobby Karim described at an IBM event in Melbourne this week how the company overcame multiple challenges around backup.

Most of the issues would be seen in a wide range of organisations, notably increasing data volumes, rising costs, demands for greater application availability which lead to reduced backup windows, and difficulty in reaching recovery point and recovery time objectives (RPO and RTO).

Around half a dozen backup products were in use, all relying on "good old tape," Mr Karim said, but Allianz had already decided to use its recently upgraded tape libraries for archiving and switch to disk-based backup.

The first attempt to rationalise backup at Allianz was a single deployment of IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) within the data centre, backing up to disk and then onto removable media. The plan was to perform deduplication at the storage pool layer, but it turned out that the hardware the company installed wasn't adequate.

A reworked design involved multiple instances of TSM in both the primary and secondary data centres (the two sites are connected by fibre, allowing close to real-time replication), plus EMC Data Domain storage arrays that could take care of deduplication at the hardware level.

Allianz is using that system with 1000 host systems and a 1PB storage pool, with nightly incremental backups of between 8 and 10TB of data, and the company's business continuity requirements are being fully met. Around 50TB of data per week is transferred to tape, using NDMP so the data flows from the storage array to the tape library without a server acting as an intermediary.

Mr Karim said the project had reduced storage costs by 30-40%, significantly reduced the load on administrators, and allowed improvements in RPO and RTO.

Looking ahead, he said the system will accommodate continued data growth and lengthening retention periods, and allow increased application availability.

And as for continuing to meet the RPO and RTO, "I'm confident we can do that," he said.

IBM ANZ storage leader Robert MacEachern noted that the company now offers a series of 'blueprints' for TSM implementations to suit a range of system configurations, reducing the risk associated with such projects. These blueprints were not available at the time Allianz adopted TSM, he said.

He also drew attention to IBM's Butterfly tool that can help develop a business case for making changes to a backup configuration. Use of the tool over 450 IT environments has shown that replacing various incumbent products with IBM's offerings would result in savings of 45 to 54%.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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