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Storage-System with Mac OS X

MSP has implemented a unique storage system under Mac OS X for the Hamburg advertising agency NonFood.

The NonFood advertising agency, which focuses on retail marketing, produces around 1 TB of image data every week alone, primarily through its affiliated photo studios. Numerous marketing campaigns, websites, product packaging or POS materials also contribute to the volume of data generated by the agency's 120 permanent and 40 freelance creative heads.

For data storage they used a Storage Area Network (SAN) with 4 Apple Xserve RAID systems and for the workstations Mac OS X as operating system. But in mid-2008, massive performance problems and even a complete file server collapse made it necessary to rethink the existing storage system. After a lengthy investigation into the cause, the decision was made to no longer use the Xserve RAIDs as a productive environment.

Challenge

  • Build a fail-safe SAN with scalable, reliable storage and certified Mac OS X support

Solutions

  • Data storage in the SAN via HP StorageWorks EVA4400

  • Backup and archiving via one HP MSL4048 Tape Library

  • IT distributed over 3 fire sections

  • Synchronized data on old Xserve RAID systems

Advantages

  • Improved availability with tested failure scenarios

  • Very high storage capacity with large reserves

  • Certified system on Mac OS X

  • No loss of performance even at peak times

  • Sufficient spare capacity for the future

  • Automated processes run significantly faster

HP EVA - unique Mac OS X support

The new solution had to take into account the protection and availability of business-critical data, while at the same time offering the necessary Mac OS X support, but also sufficient capacity reserves for the future. This task was also given to the Hamburg-based MSP AG, which had already implemented the backup on the basis of an HP MSL4048 Tape Library for NonFood. Roland Schweizer, IT Manager at NonFood Werbeagentur GmbH: "We have enjoyed a good business relationship with MSP for many years. " After a thorough market investigation, it quickly became clear that only one vendor met Mac OS X support via Fibre Channel. Marco Hill, System Administrator and Consultant at MSP responsible for the project, said: “HP is the only provider that has not only confirmed Mac OS X support in the SAN, but also certified it. ” The concept proposed by MSP was an HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) 4400 with 36TB of storage capacity, operated in conjunction with the file, directory, and backup server in the SAN. Furthermore, the backup should be supplemented with another MSL4048 tape library for archiving. And the old Xserve RAID systems should also be connected, but no longer store productive data.

The implementation of the solution went smoothly. For the test setup, in addition to the EVA4400, an HP ProLiant DL320 G4 server connected via Fibre Channel was also put into operation for storage management via Command View EVA. Various failure scenarios, including a hardware defect, were also simulated. After several weeks of smooth test operation, the solution was finally certified by HP and has now been running in productive operation for about a year.

More power with sufficient reserves

One of the most significant improvements of the new solution is undoubtedly the noticeable increase in performance. For example, the entire file structure of the customer data is saved in a text file every hour to speed up the data search. While this automated process used to take approx. 30 min, he's done in about 2 min now. Data processing via Helios Script Server, which automatically converts PDF files, for example, and stores them in the file structure, is also noticeably faster. With around 400,000 processes running in the background every day, this becomes particularly clear at peak times, because performance bottlenecks simply do not occur.

We are very pleased to have found HP, the only manufacturer that currently certifies Mac OS X support. We are very satisfied with the EVA storage system. Our most important asset, our creative ideas, are securely stored. And even in the event of a case, we have reliable partners at our side in the form of MSP AG and HP.

Roland Schweizer
IT Manager, NonFood

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