Vanasse Hangen Brustlin restores order with SRM

Storage management helps reduce IT workloads and cut costs

You don’t have to be a large enterprise to take advantage of storage-management technologies. Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB), a 700-person engineering consulting firm specializing in transportation, environmental, and land-development services, has up to 3,000 projects in development at any given time. The records for these projects represent a few months to several years of work and are stored on servers in the firm’s 17 offices located throughout the Northeast. For Greg Bosworth, director of IT at VHB, data management for these projects involved a series of manual processes that had become increasingly complex and labor-intensive as the volumes of stored records reached approximately 10 terabytes.

During the past 18 months, Bosworth has been using VisualSRM, an SRM (storage resource management) application from EMC designed for multitier, multivendor environments. The offering has helped make management of VHB’s storage environment -- including a central EMC CX400 networked storage system, 20-plus servers, and some AX100 storage subsystems at remote offices -- more proactive and less labor-intensive across the enterprise. It has also reduced eight to ten hours of work per week to half an hour or less.

According to Bosworth, before VHB deployed VisualSRM, managing and projecting storage growth was difficult.

Offices would dump new projects onto the network, causing it to run out of space and resulting in last-minute fire drills. Tracking project life spans, which could last anywhere from six months to five years, was also an issue, because archiving completed projects and recovering the space was a manual process.

Within a couple of weeks of installing VisualSRM, VHB was able to analyze space requirements and identify files that could be removed. For example, VHB engineers frequently make AutoCAD plots during project development.

Although the plot files are typically never used again, they were not being automatically deleted. VisualSRM allows VHB to automatically purge old plot files as well as temp files, old backup files, and other disposable items, freeing up considerable space. It can also correlate with VHB’s accounting application to identify all files associated with finished projects. The next step will be to automate moving finished projects to second-tier storage.

Bosworth says it’s now easier to manage growth and keep on top of the need for storage expansion. VHB is now at 79 percent utilization of storage capacity for the whole network, whereas they were often at 50 percent utilization or less.

With a much clearer view of utilization, there’s no need to keep too much extra capacity online, which results in substantial cost savings, as does the reduction in the time needed to manage data.