Alstom finds storage cure

Auckland-based Alstom has tackled the data proliferation problem without merely adding disk space.

Auckland-based Alstom has tackled the data proliferation problem without merely adding disk space.

The company’s network manager, Laz Brown, says treating storage as a hardware issue is a simplistic response. “Give them more and they’ll use more,” says Brown.

On the other hand, if storage management tools are used, big savings on hardware are possible.

Alstom, a French company that makes power generation and distribution equipment, implemented a storage quota system in New Zealand about a year ago, avoiding a $15,000 tape backup system upgrade. “Our policy now is to give everyone on the network 50MB of disk space,” Brown says. “If they demand anything above that, they need to justify it.”

The StorageCentral quota system, from US company W Quinn, enables Brown to run reports on file types stored on about 15 servers up and down the country. He’s then able to decide when addition of storage capacity is warranted. “What we notice is that about 30% of our users have heavy storage demands.”

According to W Quinn’s regional manager, Malaysia-based Michael Ravi, Alstom is relatively rare. “Most organisations don’t have a storage management policy,” he claims. “They just keep adding disks.”

Ravi says organisations typically free up about a third of their existing disk space once they implement a quota system. That miracle occurs when the system discovers duplicated files and data so old that it no longer needs storing on disk.

StorageCentral works by filtering files at an I/O level, he says. Alstom’s Brown says that doesn’t degrade server performance. “I’ve never noticed any overhead.”

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