MoneyGram Implements Data Dedupe to Fight Storage Sprawl, Speed Backups

A tight integration of storage management functions like virtualization, deduplication and backup helped to facilitate a major MoneyGram objective -- the ability for IT to use a single set of tools to manage storage.

June 5, 2009

5 Min Read
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With more than 180,000 locations in 190 different countries and territories, MoneyGram provides daily money transfers, bill payments and issuance of money orders. The company has been in the financial services business for seven decades, so it also knows that providing money services means not only expedient real-time processing, but effective data archiving and recovery.

"Because we are in the money transfer business, we wanted to look at a more formalized approach to our data archiving, backup and e-discovery," says Scot Prudhomme, manager of system integration and storage management at MoneyGram. "We didn't really have a formalized approach before, and we were beginning to encounter storage sprawl in our data center. A key business question for us was what were we going to do with all of our data growing exponentially? In the past, we simply bought more storage, so the challenge was finding a storage solution that was more than simply adding capacity."

MoneyGram's quest for an overall data and storage management strategy needed to address several key pain points:

-- As business continued to expand, so did data and storage. MoneyGram had outgrown its previous data and storage management practices and it wanted a fresh approach.

-- MoneyGram was concerned about storage sprawl, and wanted to ensure that storage capacity was optimally utilized.

-- Corporate IT wanted to see a more efficient data backup process.

-- IT was often spending days on e-discovery. It wanted to reduce the amount of time the process required.

"We looked at several potential solutions as we addressed these issues," Prudhomme says. "But in the end, it came down to a single, integrated solution that was scalable, and that could address the complex of problems we were experiencing."

MoneyGram selected the Hitachi Data Protection Suite powered by CommVault's Simpana software for email archiving and e-discovery. CommVault also provided data replication, virtualization and deduplication. Primary storage was housed on a Hitachi Universal Storage Platform V, with an AMS 2500 deployed as a backup disk target for deduplication for the 300 TB of data that MoneyGram archived and backed up.

One of the attractive features of Simpana was its monolithic approach to storage management. "Instead of employing an acquisition strategy to 'add on' new companies with products carrying specific storage management capabilities, we made a conscious decision to operate from a single code base," says Dipesh Patel, a senior product marketing manager at Commvault. "This has allowed us to tightly integrate different storage management functions and also to position the product so customers can use their existing storage resources and simply repurpose them."

This tight integration of storage management functions like virtualization, deduplication and backup helped to facilitate a major MoneyGram objective -- the ability for IT to use a single set of tools to manage storage. "For example, we had a number of tools that we had been using for backup, but the problem was that backup was all that they did," says Prudhomme. "We needed to coordinate backup and archiving, and we also needed a set of e-discovery tools that would help us get a better handle on maintaining the data and the workflow design so we could get information into the hands of our legal team."

MoneyGram goes live this month with its new storage system in a phased rollout over a 60-day period. "We've done the planning, purchased the equipment and have performed a pilot proof of concept," Prudhomme says. "The goal now is to ensure that staff training is completed in advance of cutover and that we have really sound procedural and escalation processes in place during cutover so the transition will be as seamless as possible for our customers."

By making the move, MoneyGram plans to capitalize on the benefits of deduplication technology to significantly reduce backup and recovery time, Prudhomme says. "When you are a financial services company, you want to focus on projects that generate revenue," he says. "Performing time-consuming data backups takes away from that. Like many companies these days, we are also looking for ways to do more with less. Adding technologies like deduplication and finding more efficient ways to handle e-Discovery are critical to our success."

Adoption of deduplication technology has required some changes. "With deduplication, there is a change in how data is managed," Prudhomme says. "It is different than simply asking where is my file, because the pieces of data are spread all over the system. We still need to know that if we ever have an issue with data that is not retained in deduplication, that we can retrieve that data if we need to."

Still, data deduplication is becoming a popular technology that is being embraced by more IT departments. "We find now that about 20 percent of the companies we talk with have adopted deduplication as a storage management technique, and that another 20 percent to 30 percent have plans to do so over the next six to twelve months," says CommVault's Patel. "This trend is being fueled by organic data growth, the expense of storing all of that data, and the need to comply with government or other industry data retention standards. In this environment, and depending on customers' individual IT environments, the potential for reducing data and storage can be anywhere from 10 to 1 to 30 to 1."

At MoneyGram, Prudhomme focuses on reducing backup cycles, and he is equally concerned with reducing data and ratcheting down new storage investments. "We are not looking for instantaneous cost savings, but we have projected out a five year plan," he says. "In that plan, we are projecting that we will reduce our storage spend by approximately 20 percent per year over the five-year span. That is significant for us."

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