Articles & Case Studies

Gippsland Water enhances disaster recovery and data centre flexibility with new storage system

Posted: Tuesday 18th May 2010

Business overview

Central Gippsland Water Region Corporation (Gippsland Water) provides water, wastewater and waste recovery services to domestic and commercial clients across central Gippsland in Victoria. The organisation distributes about 64,000 megalitres of water to 41 towns spread across more than 5,000 square kilometres. Its clients also include businesses in the manufacturing, power generation, health service, timber, paper and dairy industries.

Gippsland Water manages about 100 water storage basins throughout the region and operates a resource recovery plant and agribusiness near the town of Sale.

The organisation directly employs about 230 staff and uses external contractors to undertake tasks such as building and garden maintenance and management of its radio systems.

Challenges

In 2008, with a four to five-year-old storage system supporting ageing IT infrastructure and a limited disaster recovery capability, Gippsland Water decided to undertake a comprehensive upgrade.

“We were already experiencing limitations, as our existing storage system was incompatible with the enterprise-class VMware data centre virtualisation we planned to install,” said Ray Baillie, IM/IT and SCADA Manager, Gippsland Water. “Historically, our outsourcing provider had implemented VMware Server as a temporary measure to overcome the resource restrictions of older servers used in our demilitarised zone (DMZ) to support external-facing websites, portals and Citrix application publishing systems.”

The organisation also wanted to replace a subscription tape-based disaster recovery system that could see 96 hours worth of data lost and full recovery take five to seven days to achieve. “In the event of a catastrophic outage, we would have had to drive the latest tapes to Melbourne for our service provider to reconstitute our information and bring our systems back up and running,” said Baillie.

Gippsland Water released a tender to the market for a new storage system and disaster recovery environment. “We wanted a system that was scalable, functional and simple, and one that could establish a foundation for our organisation for the next decade,” said Baillie.

With a restricted budget, the cost of a physical disaster recovery architecture incorporating real-time replication of critical business information to a secondary site was prohibitive. However, Gippsland Water had a minimum objective of returning to full operations within 24 hours of an outage.

It also specified that the new storage system must support VMware’s virtual infrastructure software, including the Site Recovery Manager (SRM) tool that automates system recovery in the event of a problem.

EMC solution

Following an extensive research and review process in the third quarter of 2008, Gippsland Water selected Thomas Duryea Consulting to implement dual EMC CLARiiON CX4-120 networked storage systems, with one used for production and one for disaster recovery.

These systems are linked by a 100 megabits per second full duplex Ethernet connection and operate on a constant like-for-like basis. They met the organisation’s business requirements of supporting a VMware implementation including SRM, with continuous data protection (CDP) and continuous remote replication (CRR) provided by EMC RecoverPoint.

Gippsland Water is using EMC RecoverPoint CDP to deliver local ‘journaling’ in its production data centre that enables initial on-site recovery of application servers without initiating failover or disaster recovery processes. “EMC RecoverPoint CDP enables us to roll back the virtual servers running our core applications to direct-from-disk ‘snapshots’ taken at intervals of seconds within the previous 24 hours,” said Andrew Ross, IT Team Leader, Gippsland Water. “We are also using EMC RecoverPoint CRR to fail servers over and bring them up at the disaster recovery site.”

Gippsland Water lauded the tight integration of the EMC RecoverPoint tools with the EMC CX4-120 storage and the VMware infrastructure as minimising the manual processes and time required to configure the system.

The organisation is using Replication Manager for VMware to deliver a central management console to coordinate the process of replicating information between the production and disaster recovery data centres.

It is also planning to use Replication Manager agents for Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange Server to install bookmarks that verify the data in those systems is in a consistent state, enabling full integration with EMC RecoverPoint and reducing the risk associated with recovery.

In addition, Gippsland Water has enabled single mailbox recovery without affecting other users as part of a broader capability to restore Microsoft Exchange Server data in accordance with its service level agreements.

These systems complement a VMware infrastructure that has grown from two older host servers running six virtual machines in the Gippsland Water DMZ, to five HP DL360 G5 servers, each with dual quad-core 3.2GHz Intel Xeon processors and 32GB RAM, hosting 30 virtual servers.

This infrastructure comprises the ESX 3.5 hypervisor used to partition a physical server into multiple virtual machines; the VMotion tool used to migrate running virtual machines from one host server to another without any impact on users; Distributed Resource Scheduler which enables the dynamic allocation and balancing of computer resources; and High Availability (HA) to provide failover protection against hardware and operating systems in the virtualised environment. Gippsland Water also uses VMware vCenter Server to enable centralised management of the virtual infrastructure.




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