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Rudolph Technologies (NASDAQ: RTEC) needed a new data storage infrastructure that could keep up with its rapid growth while giving the company disaster recovery capabilities.
So the company, which offers process characterization equipment and software for semiconductor manufacturers, found a cost-effective solution in Compellent Technologies' (NYSE: CML) Storage Center products.
The impetus to move from direct-attached storage (DAS) to a Compellent storage area network (SAN) came from a corporate merger and a data loss incident that resulted in a painstaking and lengthy recovery.
Flanders, N.J.-based Rudolph Tech's inspection work means the company stores a vast amount of digital images, primarily mechanical drawings for software, hardware and optical engineering work. The amount of images exploded with a merger a few years ago, which also increased the number of employees from 200 to 500 in 14 locations, the number of locations where critical data resides from one to two, and SANs running in four different locations.
"We knew that any loss of data, all of which is very critical data to our company, would be difficult to repeat with our existing storage infrastructure," said Peter Finch, Rudolph's manager of IT strategic planning and infrastructure.
Storage volumes for images were increasing dramatically, creating a need to expand volumes on the fly. "We would also backup our data to tape, which was extremely labor-intensive, taking the better of the weekend to complete," said Finch.
It was time for a change.
The company's two key criteria for a new product were the ability to replicate between its New Jersey and Bloomington, Minn., sites, and the ability to expand volumes on the fly.
Rudolph Technologies was no stranger to Compellent, having been an early adopter of the vendor's equipment in 2005. But the company set out on a broad search anyway.
Several vendors made the company's short list, but it was Compellent that won the deal because of its technology and licensing structure, which helps keep support costs even. Rudolph has been growing its storage infrastructure with Compellent technology for several years, including piloting the vendor's Portable Volumes, a key capability of its new Storage Center 5 solution.
A Scalable Storage Network
Compellent's modular SAN continues to provide Rudolph Technologies with the flexibility to scale storage as necessary. According to the vendor, its Persistent Hardware Architecture allows companies to scale capacity, connectivity and performance incrementally to match demand.
Since its initial implementation, Rudolph Tech's storage has grown from a terabyte to hundreds of terabytes, all without the need for a forklift upgrade.
According to Finch, the company started with a single controller with FATA drives (no longer available), each configured with 6.5 terabytes at two locations. "We had a replication license for instant replay," he added.
A year later, the company installed another Compellent controller with sixteen 750GB drives at its Seattle, Wash., location. Then about a year ago, Rudolph purchased another Compellent controller with 16 SATA drives for a Texas location.
The vendor's modular storage architecture allowed Rudolph to reallocate, rather than discard, existing equipment while expanding its infrastructure.
"When we expanded our Minnesota controller to 750GB SATA drives, we recycled the 350GB drives that were there to our Texas site," said Finch.
Expanding capacity has never been easier. According to Finch, the ability to expand volumes on the fly is done in minutes, compared to an entire weekend with the company's older technology. Today, Rudolph's IT team uses Compellent's thin provisioning technology, called Dynamic Capacity, to provide the best storage utilization possible by eliminating allocated but unused capacity. And there is no longer a need to backup images and restore from tape.
Storage at the Minnesota site also automatically cycles older data down to less expensive storage as needed.
The company also has multi-site replication for disaster recovery, a critical IT capability. However, with offices worldwide, replicating data between local and remote sites was a costly proposition, one that can prove to be cost-prohibitive for many organizations.
Using Compellent's IP-based solution, Finch said his company can purchase a T1 line for $600 a month, compared to a larger data pipe required by other vendor solutions for as much as $15,000 a month.
Compellent's Thin Replication utilizes space-efficient, continuous snapshots, or Replays, to protect data while only replicating changes between Replays, rather than duplicating all the data each time.
Portable Volumes, a feature of Compellent's Storage Center 5, allowed Rudolph Technologies to jumpstart replication through portable hard drives when setting up new remote sites, saving on time, cost and complexity.
"We used the Portable Volumes to synch about 3TB of data between the New Jersey and Minnesota facilities," said Finch. After connecting two external enterprise-class USB drives protected by 128-bit encryption, the drives were shipped overnight to Minnesota and synched to the local controller. "What would have otherwise taken four months took two days," said Finch.
Ease of management, cost and the ability to scale its storage as needed not only positions Rudolph Technologies with the infrastructure to meet its growing needs but also enhances its compliance efforts. "Everyday we're 100 percent synched between sites within a couple of hours," said Finch.
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