Tomato Titan Serves NAS With SAN

Red Gold bypasses EMC to slice, dice, and puree iSCSI capacity with EqualLogic

April 21, 2007

3 Min Read
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When Mike deOliveira, IT project manager with Red Gold Inc., proposed a modestly priced storage upgrade to his management, the answer surprised him.

"Our CFO said that if we wanted to add storage capacity, that was fine, but if we didn't have a way to scrutinize and manage our stored data effectively, then we needed to go back and discuss it again," says deOliveira. "It was kind of nice to have a CFO look at spending a bit more, rather than just adding capacity at the lowest cost."

The IT team at Red Gold, an Indiana-based producer of tomato products, was ready for the company's first SAN. A typical SME, Red Gold has about 1,000 employees. It supports three processing plants that produce over 100 different tomato products in various sizes and containers. Office applications, comprising about 1.5 Tbytes, fit on four file servers in the firm's primary data center. Backup was done on tape.

This setup was fine until recently. There had been no networked storage outside of the company's process control systems for canning production. But deOliveira was finding it tough to perform backups quickly and retrieve data easily.

"It was taking us eight to ten hours to back up, depending on the night of the week. It could take up to 15 hours on the weekend," deOliveira says. "A SAN would speed this up and make data readily available for online recovery."The team looked at SANs from EMC, EqualLogic, HP, and IBM. Since they wanted to use Ethernet connectivity, they preferred iSCSI, but EMC, HP, and IBM offered them SANs that supported Fibre Channel along with iSCSI.

Cost quickly put most products out of consideration. While EqualLogic could deliver the 4.5 Tbytes of storage at a cost that seemed reasonable to the team, EMC confused the issue by reducing its original proposal by more than half. "That raised a big concern. If they were willing to slash their cost that dramatically, we felt that somewhere along the way we'd wind up paying the difference in upgrade and licensing costs," deOliveira says.

The decision was made easier when Red Gold's VAR told them they could front-end EqualLogic's PS300E SAN with the vendor's Windows Storage Server NAS gateway. This is the latest third-party gateway offered by EqualLogic. Made by AMS Storage, it's based on Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 and integrates Windows-based file services with single-instance storage, among other features.

Besides reducing the amount of backup data, the NAS gateway would give deOliveira a way to block files that had cluttered the company's servers. "We were finding a lot of music and video and stuff," he recalls. So Red Gold paid less than $60,000 for the SAN and gateway a couple months ago.

It's too soon for statistics, but deOliveira is already clear that the new SAN and gateway are an improvement. Just having general file storage with services gives him more control, and 45 days after installation he sees no performance degradation. "So far, our experience has been painless," he says.It's that front-end NAS that clinched it. "It was an afterthought to get a management front end, and that was probably pretty naive on my part," he acknowledges. "Without the NAS gateway we could have added 4.5 Tbytes to our network, but without a way to scrutinize our data stores, we would have added a lot of capacity without value."

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Microsoft Corp.

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