Pillar Writes Storage Prescription for Drug Company

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About a year and a half ago, IT decision makers at Cubist Pharmaceuticals knew they had to find a better and more cost-effective storage solution for their critical research and business information. A few months ago, the company weeded out the competition and turned to Pillar Data Systems.

Today, all of Cubist’s 30 databases, which run a variety of research and business systems, are backed up onto the Pillar Axiom 500 storage system, according to Mike Geldart, senior manager of computer operations at Lexington, Mass.-based Cubist. “Pillar has delivered a solution that gives us multiple tiers of store at a better total cost of ownership (TCO),” he says.

The organization bought and installed a 17 terabyte SAN solution with virtual tape library (VTL) capabilities for off-site protection in May and June.

Cubist, founded in 1992, is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the research, development and commercialization of anti-infective products for the acute care environment.

New Storage Remedy

A user of EMC Clariion and ATA storage products for many years, Geldart says in mid-2005, the company grew concerned about escalating storage costs as the company’s storage requirements grew. “On a monthly basis, we have about 25 terabytes of backups,” he notes.

At the time, the company was in the process of migrating from a backup storage system that went directly to tape to a system that went disk to disk. “The problem with this solution was that we utilized higher-priced storage, and as our storage requirements grew, we knew that ultimately this set up would get too pricey,” says Geldart.

The company considered going to a virtual tape library, but saw too many limitations in that option.

That’s when Geldart began thinking about Pillar’s Axiom solution, which he had learned about early on when invited by VAR and integrator Cambridge Computer Solutions to a product preview.

Cubist’s criteria for a storage product was a cost-effective solution that offered high availability and performance, according to Geldart. The company evaluated all the major vendors, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, to name a few, all of whom offered QoS, availability, disk handling technology and special technology for increasing speed.

“What we found was that all of the major vendors offered similar entry models at the same price point,” he says. “But once we investigated expansion options, that’s when the differentiation between mainstream vendors became apparent.”

Geldart was, however, impressed by Pillar’s Axiom. He liked the architecture, the high availability, RAID controllers, multiple Slammer storage controllers, spread out computational bricks and multiple different failovers. And he liked Pillar’s pricing and TCO too.

The Right Prescription

Earlier this year, Cubist brought in the Axiom 500 for testing. Geldart reports that he did the set up and interconnects himself and brought the system online. “We did a quick analysis, which was all we needed to know whether the system would work for us,” he says.

It did, and by late spring, Cubist implemented the Pillar storage solution. The company initially purchased an Axiom 500 with four bricks and 10 terabytes of usable storage. Since the initial implementation, the company has added three more bricks and another six terabytes of storage.

Cubist has realized many benefits since installing the Axiom 500, according to Geldart. For example, the ability to provision storage and quickly add storage where it’s needed in the organization; compatibility with the company’s version of VMware; improved failover; and the tiered storage allows Geldart to use and assign storage economically.

According to Pillar, all tiers of data can reside on a single platform with a single management interface, under a single software license. There are several storage tiers: premium (for Fibre Channel drives), high, medium, low and archive.

“We use archive when we need to back up, which allows us to assign higher-performance input to another system,” says Geldart, who adds that the company’s Oracle ERP development and test environments use medium-level disk, while small production databases use high-speed disk, for example.

Since installing the Axiom 500, the company encounter one customer service event. “We had a disk problem and it was replaced within four hours,” says Geldart.

Cubist is looking at other applications for the Axiom storage system. The company currently is in the test lab considering Axiom for its disaster recovery site. “There are other potential projects down the road as well,” says Geldart.

For more storage features, visit Enterprise Storage Forum Special Reports

Lynn Haber
Lynn Haber
Lynn works as an editor-at-large meeting with new and established channel partners in the IT and telecommunications ecosphere. She works to understand what motivates partners, vendors, and distributors as they navigate growth in a dynamic industry. Lynn has worked as a business and technology writer for magazines, journals, and online media, and has authored hundreds of articles on technology, communications, business management, employment and careers, industry, and products.

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