Storage and Data Protection Architecture Review

Challenge

  • Space Limitations and Scalability Issues.
  • Cost Issues - CapEx, OpEx and Environmental
  • Migrations and upgrades required downtime
  • No roadmap for development
  • Bottleneck caused by business growth
  • Limited support from Dell
  • Inadequate Monitoring and Reporting
  • Backup windows Increasing
  • Over reliance on Tape

Solution and Benefits

Nimble’s hybrid flash SAN solution for production and high performance tiers and Nexsan E-Series high density and energy efficient storage for backup to disk and archive.

  • Model runs have never failed, are double the size take 40% of the time
  • No more Reboots
  • Latency reduction by a factor of at least 100
  • Reduction in costs - across CapEx, OpEx and Environmental
  • Planned non-disruptive migration of data using Nimble Scale-Out technology
  • Triple parity protection, snapshot protection and replication built-in
  • Data Reduction – reduce storage footprint by 69%
  • Dramatically Improved Support - 92% automatically resolved before call is logged by Liberty
  • Improved Monitoring and Reporting
  • High Density and Reduced Footprint for backup to disk storage
  • Significantly Improved Backup Performance
“If I have a key project to deliver or simply need some specialist guidance, iSYSTEMS are the first people I contact.”
Russell Perkin - EMEA Head of IT Infrastructure for Liberty Specialty Markets


Background

Liberty Specialty Markets (Liberty) offers specialty and commercial insurance and reinsurance products across key UK, European, Middle East, US and other international locations. It provides brokers and insurers with a broad product range through both the Company and Lloyd’s markets and has approximately 900 employees in 25 offices around the world. Previously, Liberty was three separate divisions, Liberty Syndicates, Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe and Liberty Mutual Reinsurance

iSYSTEMS expertise delivers enhanced data performance for Liberty Specialty Markets

Even before the merger of the three previous divisions, Liberty had been experiencing challenges around storage performance. The legacy Dell Clarrion and EqualLogic storage arrays had begun to reach full capacity and as well as the impact of this on core IT applications, (Microsoft, Citrix and VMware), the key line of business risk and modelling applications such as Igloo and RMS (Risk Management Solutions) were also suffering business impacting performance issues. Model runs could take all weekend to complete and would often fail due to lack of resources. When all the Liberty divisions integrated to create Liberty Specialty Markets, this compounded the issue and resulted in double the amount of model runs. System reboots became a weekly occurrence.

Furthermore, there were backup issues with an over reliance on tape and genuine concerns about whether data could be recovered and restored, should the necessity arrive; a key worry in terms of reliable business continuity.

Independent, expert advice

Liberty asked iSYSTEMS, a vendor agnostic centre of excellence for Next Generation Storage, to evaluate their issues and make recommendations within the flash and hybrid storage landscape. iSYSTEMS provided a free of charge consultation and conducted an in-depth assessment to accurately evaluate Liberty’s requirements.

“iSYSTEMS is our go-to partner, we see them as an extension of our own IT team.” said Russell Perkin, EMEA Head of IT Infrastructure for Liberty Specialty Markets "Their consultants are extremely knowledgeable and professional, every one of them has broad and deep skillset combined with many years' experience. The account management team is focused, flexible and easy to deal with. No problem is too big and no requirement too small."

Solutions

iSYSTEMS engaged with Liberty’s Infrastructure Architecture and Operations teams to explore potential solutions. It was concluded that many of these challenges could be resolved by deploying a mixture of Nimble’s all flash and hybrid SAN solutions for production and high performance tiers, and Nexsan E-Series high density and energy efficient storage for backup to disk and archive.

Impact and results

After implementing both the solutions suggested by iSYSTEMS, Liberty began to see significant space savings. Its data footprint was reduced by 69%. Using Nimble Scale-Out technology, Liberty could migrate data in a planned and non-disruptive way, moving all production workloads to a new platform without coordination from different service owners. It also saw a massive impact on the model runs time and size.

“The model runs are 4x faster and the system is a lot more stable.” said Russell Perkin, “We used to have to reset RMS at least once a week. Since the upgrade, I can’t remember the last time we’ve had to do it. An Igloo model run previously taking 7 hours is now running in 2 hours! Previously latency was peaking at 400ms and we could only have one or two runs in parallel or performance was seriously degraded. With the Nimble CS700 latency is 1ms and we can have 5 runs in parallel with no impact on performance!”

The worrying backup issues have been resolved. In spite of the increased data from the merging of the three divisions the backup windows have reduced. Liberty can test and certify backups and have data replication for recovery. Liberty also reduced its reliance on less reliable tape backup and now has 2 months of backup data held on disk.

“With the Nexsan we can store vast amounts of backup data on disk, therefore our backups are readily available and we no longer have a reliance on tape.” continued Russell Perkin, “In certain cases, depending on the system/application, we are able to retain two months’ worth of backups stored on Nexsan storage repositories. In addition, we can test and certify that our backups work by booting them up on the Nexsan (using Veeam) in an isolated lab environment. While our infrastructure estate has grown significantly since merging with LMIE, and the amount of backup data has also increased, our backup windows have drastically reduced. This was only made possible backing up to High Density10gb Nexsan”

Peace of mind

As well as the peace of mind from backups, Liberty has the data Integrity and protection of triple parity protection, snapshot protection and replication built-in. Despite the increase in features and efficiencies, there was not an increase in costs. In fact Liberty saw reductions in its CAPEX, OPEX and environmental costs.

“When we originally placed the Nexsan order, they were shipped with 240TB of capacity, two of the three ‘Active Drawers’ in the Nexsan were loaded with 40x6TB SAS disks. We added an additional 160TB at each site without having to purchase another Nexsan system, simply by loading the third ‘Active Drawer’ with 20x8TB disks into the existing 4U enclosure.Challenge

Space Limitations and Scalability Issues.

Cost Issues - CapEx, OpEx and Environmental

Migrations and upgrades required downtime

No roadmap for development

Bottleneck caused by business growth

Limited support from Dell

Inadequate Monitoring and Reporting

Backup windows Increasing

Over reliance on Tape

Solution and Benefits

Nimble’s hybrid flash SAN solution for production and high performance tiers and Nexsan E-Series high density and energy efficient storage for backup to disk and archive.


Model runs have never failed, are double the size take 40% of the time

No more Reboots

Latency reduction by a factor of at least 100

Reduction in costs - across CapEx, OpEx and Environmental

Planned non-disruptive migration of data using Nimble Scale-Out technology

Triple parity protection, snapshot protection and replication built-in

Data Reduction – reduce storage footprint by 69%

Dramatically Improved Support - 92% automatically resolved before call is logged by Liberty

Improved Monitoring and Reporting

High Density and Reduced Footprint for backup to disk storage

Significantly Improved Backup Performance

“If I have a key project to deliver or simply need some specialist guidance, iSYSTEMS are the first people I contact.”

Russell Perkin - EMEA Head of IT Infrastructure for Liberty Specialty Markets We now have a whopping 400TB at both sites saving on rack space, power consumption and cooling overheads.” said Russell Perkin.

 To further reduce backup windows and reliance on tape, Liberty purchased 2x4U Nexsan SATABeast’s adding an additional 480TB in both the Production and DR facilities. Each location now hosts just under 1PB of backup to disk targets which provides the business with even faster recovery of data and longer retention.

“iSYSTEMS proactively keep us aware of technical innovation and put energy, effort and enthusiasm into understanding our priorities, challenges and business goals. To put it simply, if I have a key project to deliver or simply need some specialist guidance, iSYSTEMS are the first people I contact.” concluded Russell Perkin.

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