CitiStreet Navigates Compliance

Benefits firm says no to tape, but sheds some tears over remaining tiers

November 10, 2005

4 Min Read
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One financial services firm is dealing with compliance by pushing tape out the door and patching together a method for managing the remaining storage tiers.

CitiStreet, owned by CitiGroup, oversees retirement and health benefit plans -- putting it at the intersection of two highly regulated fields. So systems integration manager Jeff Machols has to deal with compliance regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley and The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Because it was formed by a merger of benefit services divisions of Citigroup and State Street Corp. in 2005, CitiStreet maintains data centers in Jacksonville, Fla., and Quincy, Mass.

Managing compliance tools is extremely tough for us,” Machols says. “We run the whole gamut. We have to have people dedicated to managing backups, archives, [UDO] platters, and restores.”

Machols expects to have one less storage tier to manage soon. He’s looking to replace his tape libraries with a tiered infrastructure that includes Fibre Channel disk, virtual tape, and UDO for the sake of more efficient compliance.

“By the end of the year, we’ll be completely off tape,” he says. “If we needed information, we always pulled it off tape but then you have the problem that ‘This tape’s five years old, we can’t read it anymore.’“Not having the media work anymore is no longer a good excuse for not being able to produce the data. We make sure we’re writing everything, and what we’re writing it to is the most secure piece of media.”

Weaning his firm off tape involved a series of tasks and decisions for Machols. First, he had to decide where to store everything. CitiStreet uses Hewlett-Packard EVA and XP SANs for its primary storage. Machols put in a Sepaton Virtual Tape Library (VTL) for backup and HP UDO jukebox for online and archival storage.

Machols installed the jukebox last July after considering content addressable storage (CAS). “I looked at [EMC] Centera, but it was real expensive considering you’re paying for SATA drives. It’s really cheap disk, so how come I’m paying half a million dollars for disk that I can buy for $50,000? We would have been paying for the software, the front end, and big engines built in, and we didn’t need it. So we were paying for SATA drives that you can’t rewrite to.”

Machols went with UDO because it’s cheaper than CAS and has removable media. But that led to the next problem: he was using Symantec Net Backup and Enterprise Vault archiving software, and neither supports UDO. He got around that by installing Pegasus Disk Technologies’ InveStore file and volume management software. InveStore supports UDO and plugs into Veritas’s management console, allowing optical media to read Net Backup and Enterprise Vault.

Now CitiStreet has an optical archive with 7 TBytes of capacity, but it remains a work in progress. Machol’s waiting for improvements in capacity and management. The capacity improvement will come from UDO, which today holds 30 Gbyte/s per platter and will store 60 Gbytes in the next generation due next year.The management improvement must come from the software. InveStore recognizes the UDO library as one volume, so individual platters can’t be removed to retrieve data.

“We’re buying the maximum capacity and hoping for the best for a year,” Machols says. “The management of it is also lacking. I don’t want to have to go through and search all those platters. I can’t just pull out one platter and retrieve information.”

Pegasus president Roy Slicker says an upgrade is in development to recognize individual platters as separate volumes.

Machols is satisfied with his tools for setting policies for deleting data and moving files to different storage tiers. He says Enterprise Vault lets him set policies according to factors such as file type and age. “If we have documents that we use for six months, then we need to keep them for compliance but rarely access them. So we’ll move them from disk to optical. With optical, it’s at worst case a one-day turnaround to access them.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and SwitchOrganizations mentioned in this article:

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