As one of NetApp’s top accredited partners we’re in the privileged position of getting the latest insight into the product roadmap and new technology releases. You’ll have seen in one of our recent blog posts we shared some insight on the NetApp-VMware-Cisco Flexpod solution and its relevance to growing oil and gas companies.
This month we wanted to provide an update on NetApp’s new FAS2200 series storage array following an opportunity we had to evaluate it and put through its paces at a NetApp community event. It builds on the success of its predecessors, the FAS2020 and FAS2040, and is an excellent midsized system capable of meeting a number of common challenges.
For anyone who’s not familiar with NetApp, the technology is underpinned by a robust operating system called ONTAP which, with its 12 year heritage, has all of the reliability characteristics oil and gas companies will be looking for when managing and protecting their data. It’s also where the “magic happens” – It’s ONTAP that includes all of those helpful features like snapshots, tiered storage and failback that really remove the headache from managing your data. What we really like about NetApp and ONTAP though is that its a common operating system across the entire range and, thanks to NetApp’s building block approach, as your company grows you can simply add more capacity and scale the system simply and easily.
So what’s so special about the new FAS2200 family? Well firstly it’s running the newest version of ONTAP – 8.1.1 which provides improved levels of storage efficiency. What that means to you and I is a host of new and useful functionality including multi-tenancy, which is helpful if deployed in a cloud scenario where multiple systems may need to be hosted on a single system, greater support for the growing number of data protocols (including CIFS, NFS and iSCSI which, incidentally, carry no additional cost) and dual controllers, making for a box that’s highly resilient due to this level of redundancy. We’re excited by some other stand out features too. Flash Pools in particular which enables up to six extra fast SSD hard drives to be combined into a SAS or SATA storage aggregate, dramatically improving read and write operations and decreases latency for example. If you’ve used NetApp before, this builds on the previous Flash Cache technology which improved only read operations.
There’s no escaping that this updated family is chock full of new technology and helpful enhancements. Thankfully all the “bling” is not at the expense of performance. NetApp claim that the FAS2200 series is 3-7 times faster than its predecessor the 2040 series due to trickle down technology used in the larger enterprise class FAS3000 and FAS6000 series products.
Finally management is provided by the new Netapp System Manager 2.1.1 console which incorporates new features for VMware integration, SnapMirror management and Infinite Volumes. Handily, System Manager will also work with other consoles you may already be using from VMware for instance to enable single pane of glass management across your environment using those vendors’ management consoles.
We think this solution is potentially a great fit for start-up to mid-sized oil and gas companies providing a proven and reliable unified storage environment. The FAS2220 for example is scalable to 432TB and would be ideal for a company with 10-15 virtual machines, CIFS shares and an Exchange server running on iSCSI volumes. Alternatively, for larger businesses the family can just as easily be deployed as a series of multiple arrays in a highly-scalable and resistant cluster or used as a disaster recovery solution or remote office storage. The starting price is less than £4000 too so as an economic step into unified storage or to meet discrete storage challenges across your company it’s a very viable and affordable solution.
If you’d like to hear more about this new box, see it in action or have a wider discussion about your storage needs, please give me a call on 020 7313 9900.
On the 5th June, NetApp announced an addition to their mid-enterprise product suite – the FAS2220. This filer effectively replaces the extremely popular FAS2020 that was marked as end-of-life last year. It seems perfect for small to medium businesses that require a versatile storage device for expanding data sets and virtualisation needs. Pricing is said to be “aggressive”.
An interesting new feature that is available for this new FAS2220 filer and its big brother, the existing FAS2240, is the concept of “Flash Pools”. NetApp have now brought the huge performance boost of Solid State Drives to their entry level filers. SSDs can be added to the controller itself, or additional shelves, to improve read and write times. By mixing SAS, or even SATA, disks with SSD, the filer will provide significantly more IOPS without having to add lots more spindles. Best of all, the administrator doesn’t need to configure anything, it is all managed intelligently by Data ONTAP (though I expect there will be ways of tweaking it).
OnCommand System Manager 2.1 has also been released which will ease the management of SnapMirror and SnapVault and also introduces other automated tasks to make administration simpler.
Companies using NetApp as their storage platform should have a serious look at the new models. Give me a call on +44 20 7313 9900 if you’d like to explore options for optimising your storage architecture.
Check out the comms dome we put on the bridge of the Armada Perkasa FPSO for Afren in the YouTube movie below. A floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit is a floating vessel used by the offshore industry for the processing and storage of oil and gas.
ISN were engaged by Afren to project manage and execute the voice and data communications parts of the project and delivered on time despite challenging deadlines.
This FPSO was fitted out for Afren’s Okoro Setu production project which achieved first oil in 2008 and still continues producing today, an average of 18,872 barrels per day in 2009.
Call us on 020 7313 8300 if you want to know more about ISN’s work for the oil & gas industry
Today several businesses and employees are waking up to a uncertain future in central London. On Friday a large scale fire broke out in Dean Street, Soho, gutting at least one business and leading to a large number of residents being evacuated for many hours.
Whether the fire could have been prevented remains unclear. Maybe the business involved has the ability to continue to trade; if not, they will have a number of difficult questions to answer about business continuity and disaster recovery.
If you have a disaster recovery plan, you hope never to use it. Putting one in place however, along with enabling technologies, would drastically reduce the downtime casued by an actual disaster, while improving the underlying infrastructure for day to day operations.
ISN advise customers to regularly carry out business impact analysis of each business unit of their organisation. Understanding how a disaster would affect each business unit, in terms of hard and soft costs (lost orders and loss of future orders through brand degradation) is critical to developing a robust strategy to tackle any disaster. Getting your data to the right people quickly is a decisive point in allowing your business to continue.
Understanding that your data is not the only issue to deal with: new equipment, offices, and infrastructure may also be required. Implementing plans so that every member of your business understands how to continue with business as usual, in the event of a massive business outage is key.
ISN recommends organisations look at technologies such as virtualisation, storage and offsite backups to help circumvent these situations. Mirrored storage would allow you to have you mission critical data to be centralised off your main site and allow for replication back to your head office when new equipment is installed. That, coupled with technologies such as Citrix XenApp to allow users to work from home as if they were in the office, means you lose fewer working days. If you are small enough not to need to shared storage, offsite back up can cut data restore times and get your business going again very quickly.
ISN provides business impact analysis for organisation and provides disaster recovery planning services, in the form of a workshop. Our aim is to ensure that in the event of your business being involved in any disaster scenario, it quickly returns to business as usual instead of becoming business confusion.
ISN’s technical consultants have put their heads together and come up with some practical advice for IT teams considering introducing virtualisation.
1 – Start small and work up
So that you and your team can familiarise yourselves with the concepts and issues around virtualisation, start with free or inexpensive tools like #Citrix #XenServer, #VMware ESX3i or VMware Workstation.
Try For your first production systems try running simple server workloads like Blackberry Enterprise Server, DHCP or secondary domain controllers.
2 – Take a phased approach
Don’t try to do everything all at once. Trying to do too much in one step is a recipe for downtime and disaster. Specialist consultancies can provide the tools and expertise to help you plan the best way to get to your desired end results.
3 – Don’t expect to be able to virtualise all of your systems
Sometimes you are better off with physical servers. Direct attached storage in the form of RAID arrays on an intelligent caching disk controllers will often give better performance for high throughput databases than virtual machines accessing shared iSCSI storage.
4 – Check compatibility of existing software applications
Confirm with vendors that their applications are supported on virtual machines and consider their recommendations when looking at server, network and backup options.
5 – Don’t forget about licensing
Remember OEM licenses are tied to the hardware they were bought with, so that you can’t simply convert a machine running OEM software and stay compliant. Each virtual Windows server or desktop would need its own operating system license – either volume or retail box.
6 – Think about backup and recovery up front
Although it is easier to back up and restore, a production virtual machine needs a proper rigorous backup regime in place to allow quick recovery from data loss. Choose products which are designed for virtual systems such as those from Vizioncore or Symantec.
7 – Upgrade hardware warranty
When you are running multiple production virtual machines on one physical server system, this become vital as any downtime is compounded. For HP servers ISN recommend 24/7 6 hour Call-to-repair or 4 hour response Carepack warranty extensions. Dell too offer a “4 hour Mission Critical” response add-on to their basic warranty.
8 – Build a solid foundation for the future
Don’t try to skimp and put your first production virtual machines on a low-end system as this will generally become your production environment before you know it. Hardware is cheap compared to the cost, disruption and inconvenience of rebuilding. There is also a cost to eroding users’ confidence in new systems by providing it on under-powered hardware. Choose reliable, fast server hardware with redundancy built in.
9 – Use shared storage for more flexibility
For non critical server workloads with very little data it is feasible to keep the data within the virtual machine. To get the most out of a virtual environment, realising the full benefits of disaster recovery, resilience, flexibility and performance, it is best to separate critical production data and locate it on a shared Storage Area Network (SAN) or high end Network Attached Storage (NAS) device.
10 – Plan network capacity for best performance
ISN use iSCSI or fibre channel accelerators in servers attached to a separate storage LAN with a dedicated switch fabric to guarantee fastest data access times and throughput between servers, shared storage and users. If your server uses the same LAN for iSCSI access to a SAN as it does to serve data to users, problems can arise.
11 – Use outside expertise to give you a head start
It can save a lot of time and money to use an experienced consultancy to get you started on your virtualisation project. ISN’s qualified consultants can help you get results fast and transfer practical skills to your own IT team.
If you have any questions about virtualisation or how it might work in your business, please leave a comment or call me at ISN on 020 7313 9900.
Congratulations to Tom Clowes, ISN’s senior support consultant, for passing NetApp’s Accredited Storage Architect Professional exam with a score of 90%!
This followed an intensive course at #NetApp UK HQ in Stockley Park where Tom was able to brush up on his knowledge of storage technology in general as well as learn all there is to know about the range of SAN and NAS storage solutions offered by NetApp.
This covered training on FAS2020, FAS2050, FAS3000 series and all the way up to FAS6080 filers as well as the core Snapshot technology which translates to easy data backup, file and volume restore (in seconds, not hours)and storage replication technology that is unmatched by any other vendor.
If you would like to explore how NetApp storage solutions can help your business, please contact us on 020 7313 9900 to arrange a demonstration, or come along to one of our short Demo Cafe briefings.
The annual conference for the EAGE – European Association of Geologists & Engineers – took place in Amsterdam last week – 8th to 11th June. A great opportunity for professionals in geophysics, petroleum exploration, geology, reservoir engineering, mining and civil engineering to get together for one of the key events of the oil and gas IT calendar.
As an IT infrastructure specialist for the Oil & Gas industry, London-based IT consultancy ISN Solutions partnered storage vendor Isilon Systems on their stand at the show. ISN have much experience of consultancy, design, project management, installation and support of IT and comms infrastructure for the oil & gas exploration and production sector.
With seismic data storage very much on the agenda and new applications for its manipulation and interpretation being showcased, ISN and Isilon where kept busy with interest on how best to manage the obvious storage implications, not just now, but allowing for likely growth patterns into the future.
Isilon’s scale-out NAS products offer unparalleled speed of access, uptime and cost effectiveness for storage of seismic data. Having evaluated the options available in the marketplace, we have been impressed by how easy Isilon clustered NAS arrays are to manage and maintain. We have seen nothing that scales so well, while still maintaining extremely fast response times. Isilon’s product range includes solutions for storage needs from 5 Terabytes to over 5 Petabytes. Ideal for many geoscience applications.
Call us on 020 7313 9900 to tell us more about your storage challenges.
An ISN client made the tough decision to make a few staff redundant because of the downturn. They have a tight procedure for handling logon account deactivation and return of security badge, etc. However one of the departing staff asked if his account could be reactivated from 5pm for half an hour so that he could finish off a key piece of documentation. His boss agreed to let him finish the work.
Data wiped out
The next day some of his former work mates found that about 15GB of file data had gone missing – 4,500 files. When the IT support team investigated, they saw from the logs on their NetApp Storage Area Network (SAN) system that a folder which was backed up at 5pm was no longer there at 6pm. On closer inspection, they were able to establish that the missing folders had been deleted at 5:20pm.
Their NetApp SAN is set up to take snapshots of all data at hourly intervals, so restoring to the 5pm copy meant that all of the deleted data was able to be restored completely. In addition, it took a mere 10 minutes from noticing that the data was gone to having it all back to normal.
If our client had relied purely on tape backup then it would certainly have taken a lot longer; many companies only take a tape backup of their data once a day. This would mean that they would have lost a day’s work and it might have taken hours to get the previous might’s version restored.
Investigate better backup methods
The cost of storage is falling and the amount of data held by businesses is growing (some say the it doubles every two years). It is nearly always cheaper to add more space than to prune the data set down to size. However that can create other problems if the backup solution is not scaled up to match.
There are plenty of gotchas in IT. To avoid them, please call our consultants to get some practical advice. We are trained and experienced in providing infrastructure solutions which help businesses be productive, even when the unexpected happens.
Keeping you up to date with our services and hints and tips to help you keep your IT systems working effectively
...we recognised the need to partner with an organisation that had the track-record and expertise in project management for the oil and gas industry. ISN Solutions delivered.
Petroceltic International plc
Our partnership with ISN Solutions began in 2007 and has grown with us as Afren has expanded. We rely on ISN Solutions for direction and technical guidance. The relationship is not about money, but about partnering with competent and knowledgeable specialists who know our organisation, understand the oil and gas exploration and production business and are able to work as our IT department to help us improve and enhance our operation and maximise our investments in IT.
Microsoft Partner Silver Midmarket Solution Provider