Case Study: Fair Isaac Steps Up to a Tape SAN - EnterpriseStorageForum.com

Case Study: Fair Isaac Steps Up to a Tape SAN

"At Fair Isaac, we had an opportunity rather than a problem," said Simon Wiltshire, open systems director at Fair Isaac Corporation. Wiltshire had just completed a speech ("Backup to the Future; Implementing a Tape SAN") at Storage Networking World in Phoenix in which he described his team's successful implementation of a tape SAN for backups at Fair Isaac.

Founded in 1956, Fair Isaac Corporation provides predictive modeling, decision analysis, intelligence management, decision management systems, and consulting services to power more than 25 billion mission-critical customer decisions a year. Describing why Fair Isaac needed the tape SAN, Wiltshire referred to Fair Isaac's business needs.

Fair Isaac has been growing quickly, merging last year with HNC Software Inc., adding new clients, and storing more data. "Not only were we growing, but we also found our backup environment was becoming more and more overloaded," explained Wiltshire. "We needed improved reliability and throughput, and also the ability to scale up in capacity."

"Since 1998, we've been migrating significant processing from a mainframe environment to open systems, and we needed to provide greater capability for the open systems backup infrastructure. This has been really successful," asserted Wiltshire regarding his implementation of a tape SAN. But before he described the technology involved (see sidebar), Wiltshire revealed the guiding principles he and his team used:

  • Position the environment for continued growth to ensure a scalable solution
  • Build on existing staff capabilities and ensure operational simplicity
  • Use leading-edge technology but ensure redundancy and reliability
  • Partner for implementation and gain operational knowledge

"This Stuff Is Complex"

Reminding his audience "this stuff is complex," Wiltshire described how Fair Isaac hired consultants from CNT to partner with his Fair Isaac IT staff for the project. CNT is a storage networking solutions provider based in Minneapolis, not far from where Wiltshire was planning to install his tape SAN. "Fibre and tape are still a new enough combination that it's hard to find people with the expertise to plan, install, and run a tape SAN," commented Wiltshire.

However, CNT had an experienced local team that took Wiltshire to visit another CNT customer. The client resembled Fair Isaac in size and in complexity of its transactions and data storage needs. So it was no surprise that the solution CNT had helped them implement resembled the solution Wiltshire had in mind for Fair Isaac. Wiltshire was pleased with CNT's proficiency in this new field -- a key benefit that meant CNT would not be learning about the technology at Fair Isaac's expense. An additional benefit resulted from being able to leverage existing staff capabilities. "I knew my team needed to learn about tape SANs, and it's much easier to learn by working with a knowledgeable teammate," said Wiltshire.

With guiding principles and an experienced CNT team in place, Wiltshire and his tape SAN team established the process they would use. The process tied the project's technical requirements back to Fair Isaac's business requirements:

  • Revisit all backup and archive requirements
  • Categorize by business need with the goal to simplify and consolidate
  • Even out the incremental and full backup schedule by clarifying business unit assumptions and validating service level agreements
  • Schedule and automate to centralize control of all jobs

Page 2: A Viable Process for Businesses of All Sizes


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