Storage Innovators

Stock exchange bullish on SAN

By M.C. Kincora, TechTarget
15  May 2003

Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of five articles  highlighting the recent Storage Innovator award winners. Archipelago  took home honorable mention accolades, April 10 at the Storage  Management 2003 conference in Chicago.

At seven years old, Archipelago is the new kid on the stock  exchange block. The kid has quickly mastered the game the older  kids, like the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq, have played for  more than a hundred years. Archipelago is now the second largest  stock exchange in the world. To get to that level of the game,  however, Archipelago had to dump its direct-attached storage (DAS).

Chicago-based Archipelago has prospered by playing the old stock  exchange game under new rules: creating the first open,  all-electronic stock exchange. Eliminating the stock trader on the  floor has streamlined the trading process for Archipelago’s  customers, both sellers and buyers. However, retaining those  customers and complying with national regulatory requirements  demands an enterprise system that breaks some of the old rules for  data storage. Steve Rubinow, Archipelago’s chief technology officer,  thinks his new storage area network (SAN) does just that.

Archipelago relied on DAS for the first six years of its  existence. It wasn’t long after joining the company that Rubinow  realized the old storage strategy wasted money and lacked  manageability and scalability.

In the original strategy, islands of dedicated storage arrays  handled applications and server groups. Rubinow quickly suspected  that this “island” approach delivered low, uneven storage  utilization. That architecture also made the system hard to manage.

“The approach had been to buy a little bit of storage for each  application,” said Rubinow. The company constantly ordered new  disks, “but the disks we had were not being fully utilized.”

Rubinow scheduled a system analysis by EMC Corp., one of  Archipelago’s storage vendors. EMC discovered that the firm was only  utilizing 30% of its disk space.

With that report in hand, Rubinow decided that storage had to be  viewed as a single resource, rather than as islands of resources.  “We needed to leverage storage across vendors and across  applications,” he said.

In designing the company’s new storage architecture, Rubinow  identified three major challenges. First of all, key applications  needed very high levels of service, particularly in the areas of  reliability, security and disaster recovery. The second challenge  was planning for and supporting the dynamic, and sometimes  unpredictable, growth of applications. Finally, Rubinow had to find  a storage solution that was innovative and effective enough to  maintain Archipelago’s technology-driven competitive edge — without  breaking its budget.

In designing the new system, Rubinow tied together software from  Veritas Software and Hitachi Data Systems; linked new hardware from  Hitachi with legacy EMC and Hewlett-Packard machines; and  connectivity tools from Brocade.

Using tools from Veritas, Rubinow gets automatic reports on  allocation levels, which allows him to purchase additional storage  on a “just-in-time” basis.

Archipelago needs high-performance and high-capacity storage  capabilities for its stock exchange processes. After evaluations,  Rubinow chose and implemented Hitachi Data Systems Lightning 9900  storage arrays. The Hitachi system added 8 terabytes (TB) of storage  capacity to the existing base of HP and EMC arrays.

The new SAN utilizes a private wide network (WAN). Rubinow added  Brocade SilkWorm 12000 core fabric switches to the design, providing  128-port switch capacity across the Chicago and New York sites. For  resiliency, all hosts have dual Fibre Channel connection.

With SAN replication of data between sites now possible, Rubinow  created the flexibility to add disaster recovery capabilities,  replication of critical data and speed enhancements without any  downtime while the exchange is online.

Measuring return on investment (ROI) for the new SAN hasn’t been  a top priority for a company that’s always pushing on to the  challenge. “Because we are such an entrepreneurial company, we like  to move quickly,” said Rubinow. “We’re certain if we stopped to  measure ROI, it would be in the triple digits.”

Thanks to the SAN, however, it’s been easy to gauge utilization  improvements. Rubinow believes that the results — storage  utilization levels of 85% on the Hitachi array — validate the  decision to dump DAS.