Uni cuts costs with tiered disaster recovery network

Uni's tiered disaster recovery network to cut costs
Written by Steven Deare, Contributor
Griffith University in Queensland has set up a virtualised, tiered storage architecture to cut the cost of deploying a disaster recovery system.

Griffith is replicating data from its Brisbane campuses to its Gold Coast campuses over fibre optic links, which replaced microwave links in late December. The university has invested in a range of new storage software and hardware for the project.

The new setup must handle the storage requirements of more than 30,000 students and 3,000 staff.

The deployment utilises a four tier storage architecture. While tier one is in Brisbane, tiers two, three and four are located in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The multiple tiers allow Griffith to use cheaper storage media for data that doesn't need to be continuously available.

Previously Griffith used Hitachi's Lightening systems for an environment of tier one disk space and tape in Brisbane. However the need for a disaster recovery setup helped introduce the idea for a tiered strategy.

"The [Lightening] system was built for high-throughput and availability, but being tier one, it was premium price," said Naveen Sharma, associate director of information services, Griffith University.

"Even for our non-critical applications, we had to use tier one."

The answer was in acquiring Sun's StorEdge 9985 drive for virtualisation (a -baby" version of Hitachi's Tagma system), Hitachi's HiCommand Device Manager software, StorageTek rack-mountable tape libraries, and extending the use of TrueCopy to replicate data to the Gold Coast.

The new software allowed network administrators to view and use cheaper storage at the Gold Coast campus as part of the same network, said Sharma.

"Now, for applications that are non-critical, we can use cheaper storage," he said.

"So the source [data] could be tier one, but the target is cheaper storage, like tier three."

Applications using tier one include Griffith's PeopleSoft system -- which includes finance, human resources and student administration components. Also on tier one is the university's online learning system -- Blackboard, Lotus GroupWare, web services and student e-mail.

The cheaper storage Griffith would use for backup purposes was at the tier three level. There were two types of storage available at this tier according to Sharma, one being enterprise class. Griffith, however, would use the cheaper option for backup.

Tier four, tape, was often sent off-site for backup and archival purposes.

Sharma declined to comment on the cost of the upgrade.

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