Rydex Ditches DAS

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Rydex Investments had been using direct-attached storage (DAS) or SCSI-attached storage in conjunction with an AIT library for backup purposes. This caused performance and capacity problems, as well as greatly adding to the storage management burden imposed on administrators because of the need for manual tasks.

Recently, Rydex upgraded to an HP StorageWorks storage area network (SAN) based on the HP StorageWorks 1000 Modular Smart Array (MSA1000). The company also added an HP StorageWorks MSL5026 tape library for backup and recovery purposes.

“Having multiple libraries means data is still backed up even if there is a library failure,” says Wayne Cobb, CTO of the Rockville, Md. mutual fund company. “In addition, the backup window has decreased significantly.”

As one of the nation’s fastest-growing fund families, Rydex offers more than 51 mutual funds, as well as specialized investments such as Rydex S&P Equal Weighted ETF and Rydex Russell Top 50 ETF.

Growing Pains

Under its old DAS set up, Cobb said the company suffered numerous ills. Internal server disk slots were limited — server storage was shared with the server OS and applications, which limited disk slots, and only specific internal storage could be presented to the host server. Storage had no real redundancy — DAS limited IT to servers that attached to the same disk system. Systems had limited growth capability — once the physical disk slots were filled, Rydex had no ability to grow the data set, and once full, there was no way to increase disk performance.

“There was a high risk that Rydex would have to go to tape and retrieve data if a server failure was experienced,” says Cobb. “We were also prone to data corruption.”

On the tape library side, he cites similar woes — poor performance, limited capacity, the limitations of physical attachments, and lack of redundancy.

“If a library failed, there could potentially be a large portion of data that was not backed up to tape,” he says. “Our capacity was capped at a fixed amount.”

By adding the HP MSA1000 array, Rydex resolved these issues. It immediately gained the ability to add more drive shelves to expand capacity, as well as add many spindles to a LUNfor increased disk performance. Further, the company could deploy redundant physical controllers that allowed the two physical paths to each LUN.

“By being attached to a SAN rather than a single server, we could now hook up multiple servers to the same physical array,” says Cobb. “This enabled Rydex to leverage the disk array to any system on our Fibre Channel network.”

The HP StorageWorks MSA1000 is a 2Gb Fibre Channel storage system that is aimed at the entry level side of the mid-range market. It can control up to 42 drives, which equates to a capacity of around 12 TB. It supports Windows 2003 (both 32 and 64 bit), Windows 2000 and NT, NetWare, Linux, Tu64 UNIX, Open VMS and HP-UX.

It provides a transmission rate of up to 30,000 I/Os and a throughput of up to 200 MB. It supports 14 one-inch drives and either 1 or 2 Gb fabric switches or hubs in a 4U rack space. This HP array also has Selective Storage Presentation (SSP). This means that Rydex could take volumes or sets of data and present it to any server. Further, if data is needed and the host server is down, SSP lets IT access the data rapidly.

Tape Gets An Overhaul Too

The HP StorageWorks MSL5026 is a mid-range tape library. It offers 5.72 TB (2:1 compression) of storage in a 5U form factor and is scalable to up to seven units in a rackmount configuration. It can run a variety of operating systems, including NT, Windows 200x, NetWare, Tru64 Unix, and Linux.

As the new tape drive system was also attached to the storage network, it permitted the investment firm to have any server control data residing anywhere on the SAN. In terms of performance, Cobb reports improved tape drive speed, as well as larger tape capacity. He also notes that having the capability of creating multiple tape libraries means that he is better covered during a failure or disaster. Data is backed up even if there is a library failure so no information is lost. Further, he states that backups now take less time than before and require few manual processes.

Article courtesy of Enterprise IT Planet

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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