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How DataCore SANsymphony Scored Big at Wimbledon

Here at The Station, we don't get as many opportunities as we would like to highlight interesting use cases, so let's enjoy one while we can.

One doesn't often think of a tennis tournament -- even an international Grand Slam tourney -- as necessarily needing a data storage system, but the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club knows differently.


Now that Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams have been crowded King and Queen of Wimbledon for 2010, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based DataCore Softwareis talking about how the world's most prestigious tennis tournament put to work its SANsymphony as its storage and disaster recovery operations backbone.

The three week-long event requires a complex IT and support infrastructure that has to handle tens of thousands of spectators and millions of viewers through television and Internet streaming. DataCore said the IT staff users of the system started at around 200 prior to the event and zoomed to about 6,000 during the tournament. When the international press entourage and all the tourists get into town, that's when the system really has to crank up.

All this requires some serious back-end scalability and storage capacity -- way beyond what the Club uses on a daily basis.

The Club's IT infrastructure and security analyst, Andrew Jones, runs everything involving IT security and data integrity and is one of seven staff members from the IT department who was responsible for the platforms and infrastructure that ensured smooth running of critical operations during the event.

"Our initial requirement was to reduce the costs of deploying and running our CCTV [closed-circuit television for security purposes] system. The system had a very high storage requirement -- between 16TB and 20TB as a monthly load, which we then intended to overwrite -- and this was even at a heavily compressed rate," Jones said. "Everything [on video] was presented to the DataCore virtualization servers, which through a drag-and-drop interface control all aspects of the SAN.

"From an administration perspective there was a lot less to monitor, control and manage."

Video footage has increased, thus more storage capacity was needed. One of the causes of this is the new Centre Court retractable roof, which contains four cameras providing a full view of the stadium.

Jones realized that terabyte-size pools of data needed to be linked into his existing SAN, but he also knew that this integration would provide management headaches and significant strain on the Club's regular SAN backbone of an IBM Fibre Channel SAN Storage 4300 system.

The IBM SAN was effective and provided "great data mirroring, facilitating a VMware ESX server virtualization layer," Jones said, but he realized that to accommodate this level of generated data, it required a more flexible storage solution for the security video that would have otherwise entailed the purchase of numerous additional trays of disks.

"With DataCore's SANsymphony running effecively, we have moved the Club's infrastructure into the next layer of availability and flexibility. It really has provided a cost-effective alternative that added needed flexibility to our traditional hardware approach," Jones said.

DataCore's SANsymphony system later was identified as being able to address the Club's year-round needs, including the mammoth expansion on the network usage throughout the run-up, duration and immediately following the championship. Previously the distinct peaks throughout June and July each year had to be facilitated by additional hardware, which then was effectively unused for the remainder of the year.

Jones said the Club now has two SANsymphony storage servers. Recently, the Club tied in a new disaster recovery system that includes the implementation of a full-scale, offsite DR emergency center.

For that purpose, a third server has been allocated to the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, three miles away. This way, in the event of a loss of functionality, the third SANsymphony can provide asynchronous mirroring and snapshots. This means that almost instantly -- in a full scale disaster -- the entire system can be back up and running with only a 5-minute lag in data availability.

SANsymphony's scalable approach also provided the Club with room to grow. Adding more storage is now a question of simply purchasing additional licenses. Complex provisioning and rezoning of disks is a thing of the past.

Game, set and match to DataCore.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...