Contact Energy shows the way with IP storage

IP storage can be deployed on everything except the largest databases, says enterprise architect

Three years ago, Contact Energy moved its storage requirements from IBM to EMC, because the latter was offering a potentially better internet protocol storage solution. “Today, we believe we can do most of what we need on IP,” says Harry Page, the company’s enterprise architect.

IP storage can be deployed on everything except the largest databases, he says. “We’re still slightly swayed by the industry perception that IP is not ready for the enterprise.”

Contact has, for example, used IP for payroll. It was, says Page, a very smooth implementation. “We can potentially have an IP server up and running within four hours.”

The rationale behind the move to IP is largely one of cost, because fibre channel storage is more difficult to run and there is also a shortage of fibre channel skills. Fibre channel requires special cards and cabling, while IP is commoditised.

“In the low-end market, fibre skills are not available,” Page says. “Our strategy is not to put any more servers on fibre.” Contact has 32 servers in Wellington and 14 in Auckland.

He says there is slightly more risk with IP storage, because it runs on shared infrastructure. “You need to think about security and make sure it is well managed.”

Contact was EMC’s first major customer to commit to IP storage. Page confirms it is being used as a reference site for several other New Zealand customers.

EMC Australia’s Clive Gold says a survey of 400 customers internationally showed that 78% would be using IP storage by 2010.

He describes it as an expansion technology, not a replacement for fibre channel. “The big guys will remain with fibre channel. The small to medium area is where the majority will look to use IP.

“Over the next 18 months, the speeds [of the two technologies] will flip.”

Analysts claim that IP SAN will represent the highest growth area for the storage market this year. IDC predicts a 74% growth rate for 2007-08, and Gartner says the number of IP-connected servers will overtake fibre channel systems next year.

Gold was in New Zealand for the local launch of the entry-level Celerra NS20 multi-protocol storage system. The product was announced globally on July 16. The NS20 is targeted at small- to medium-sized businesses.

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Tags IBMemcIP storageContact Energyip san

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