Sydney airport undergoes massive data protection overhaul

Data recovery drops from days to minutes

The Sydney Airport Corporation knew it had to get serious about storage when it was taking two days to back up its Exchange Server database.

The airport's IT&T services manager, Anthony Cashin said the organization was outgrowing the Exchange server which had been in place for five years.

Cashin said the airport had to back up 900PST of Exchange files daily; security was also driving a massive increase in storage needs.

"In a nutshell, we wanted to increase our storage capacity, improve the availability of mission-critical applications and provide a reliable disaster recovery solution," he said.

The airport corporation implemented Virtualization, a new IBM BladeCenter environment, a data warehouse and a revised security system for its new data protection infrastructure.

The makeover began with the installation of two, EMC Clariion CX500 networked storage systems. Earlier this year an additional two Clariion CX3 model 40 networked storage systems were added, old server hardware scrapped for an IBM BladeCenter, and a number of Microsoft Windows servers consolidated into the BladeCenter using VMware virtualization.

"We'd invested significantly in the technology we had in place and wanted to extend the infrastructure around it; the ability to add more disks to the Clariions [is] a cost-effective way to add storage incrementally as our needs evolve," Cashin said.

Speaking at Storage Networking World in Sydney today, Cashin said the organization has just implemented 80 terabytes of storage specifically for airport security procedures. Cashin believes that figure will probably double over the next 12 months.

"We're now confident that in the event of a system failure we can have critical applications up and running quickly with a minimum of fuss," he said.

"We went from taking two days to recover Exchange to 30 minutes on different hardware and improved the point-in-time recovery objective; previously we used to stream data from tape but now we have a flexible approach and can roll the Exchange server back in less than 30 minutes."

The Clariion systems, which have a maximum capacity of 199 terabytes, are networked for data transfer to act as a failsafe and to provision for the airport's video surveillance, which was revised to stream direct to disk.

The Microsoft Exchange Server now boots from a storage area network (SAN) which replaced its internal disk, while its entire database is regularly copied between data centres using EMC SAN Copy software. The virtualized servers within the BladeCenter are connected along with all devices to the SAN wand are replicated using EMC MirrorView.

Cashin said data recovery has gone from days to minutes by using the EMC Replication Manager/SE.

"Being able to install storage hardware and software from the same vendor ensures the products will integrate and work together comprehensively," he added.

EMC partner Dimension Data managed the Exchange Server migration while EMC handled the redundancy and replication process. - with Michael Crawford

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