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Posted: 3/6/2012
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Telstra Australian Telecom Enhances Cloud-Based Infrastructure with AlwaysOn Technology

Telstra is a leading telecommunications provider in Australia that also offers cloud-based services to large enterprises. Seeking a more efficient backup system that would help protect petabytes of data, Telstra deployed a solution from Microsoft partner EMC that is now being upgraded to Microsoft SQL Server 2012. Telstra can now move deduplication processing from the primary server to a secondary server, thus boosting performance and reducing bandwidth usage. The solution also provides an easier process for supporting high availability.

Business Needs

Telstra prides itself on being Australia's leading telecommunications and information services company. The company provides more than 8.3 million Australian fixed lines and supports 12.2 million mobile devices, and its Big Pond division has become Australia’s largest Internet service provider. The company, with 42,700 employees generated revenues of U.S.$26.8 billion in 2011.

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* We’re already seeing interest in SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, because customers want the ability to move deduplication processing onto a secondary server to boost performance and throughput. *

Daniel Peluso
Cloud Technical Specialist
Telstra

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Five years ago, Telstra began offering cloud-based services, with an emphasis on meeting the needs of large enterprise and government customers. Although the company supports a range of operating systems, its largest deployments use the Windows Server operating system, and, for relational data, Microsoft SQL Server data management software.

Many of Telstra’s enterprise customers store more than a terabyte of relational data. When factoring in backup copies—and the need to retain old data for several years, depending on corporate and regulatory policy—total data stored for a single customer can exceed one petabyte.

“One of the key parts of running a managed service hosting environment is data protection,” says Daniel Peluso, Cloud Technical Specialist at Telstra. Two areas of interest to Telstra have been reducing the time required to complete backups and finding easier ways to deploy clustering for high availability. Peluso says, “We need to always ensure that we are protecting our customers’ data efficiently and backing it up as quickly as possible.”

Solution

Telstra has long depended on Microsoft partner EMC for storage, using the EMC VNX Series. More recently, it has relied on EMC for backups, using EMC Avamar backup and recovery software and systems with integrated client and global data deduplication. Avamar data deduplication ensures that only new, unique data segments are transferred across the network and stored to disk. This minimizes network bandwidth use and disk storage.

In December 2011, Telstra began testing the prerelease version of EMC Avamar 6.1, which is delivered as a rack-mounted Avamar Data Store server, and includes Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise running on Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise. Telstra was quick to see the value in the AlwaysOn feature of SQL Server 2012, which simplifies the deployment of clustered servers and database mirroring for high availability. With AlwaysOn, deduplication processing can be performed on a secondary server in an AlwaysOn availability group, freeing the resources of the primary server for line-of-business transaction processing.

Telstra has nearly completed its testing of Avamar 6.1 and SQL Server 2012. “Testing has gone without a hitch,” Peluso says. “We are looking forward to rolling out the Avamar 6.1 and SQL Server 2012 solution.”

Benefits

Telstra anticipates a number of benefits from SQL Server 2012 and Avamar 6.1, including improved performance, bandwidth savings, and easier support for high availability in its cloud services.

Improved Performance with AlwaysOn

Although EMC hasn’t quantified performance increase by using AlwaysOn in an Avamar 6.1 deployment, the company notes that the impact could be significant, depending on the primary-server workloads and the backup volumes being processed for deduplication.

“Performing deduplication and backup processing uses CPU, memory, and disk access,” says Michael Jones, Principal Product Manager at EMC. “Now customers can completely offload deduplication processing to a secondary server in an AlwaysOn availability group. Coupled with the inherent efficiencies of EMC deduplication, it means that customers can schedule frequent backups without affecting production.”

Telstra believes that AlwaysOn will prove popular with its enterprise customers. “Many of our large customers are looking for high throughput, especially when dealing with financial transactions,” Peluso says. “We’re already seeing interest in SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, because customers want the ability to move deduplication processing onto a secondary server to boost performance and throughput.”

99 Percent Bandwidth Savings

The ability to move deduplication processing onto a secondary server in an AlwaysOn availability group is important to Telstra because Avamar deduplication has become so vital to its operations. Prior to moving to EMC solutions, Telstra had difficulty completing backups within an acceptable timeframe—even with a dedicated network to support backup activity. Peluso notes, “Some of our customers have terabytes of data that must be retained for up to seven years.”

After deploying Avamar, Telstra saw significant bandwidth savings because deduplication slashed the amount of data being transferred to Avamar Data Store servers. With deduplication and multistreaming, backups now take minutes instead of hours. Telstra has found that Avamar reduces bandwidth usage over its backup network by 99 percent with unstructured data and by up to 97 percent for structured data in specific scenarios.

“Prior to deploying Avamar with its deduplication, we were continually up against the limits when it came to backing up data for all of our customers,” Peluso says. “Before Avamar was deployed, full backups took 20 hours to complete. Now we run daily full backups in just 38 minutes using Avamar. This gives us enormous scalability to meet future growth, and that scalability is boosted by our ability to move deduplication off of transaction servers using AlwaysOn.”

Easier High Availability

Telstra plans to take advantage of AlwaysOn to simplify the infrastructure it provides to support high availability in its cloud offerings. “AlwaysOn removes the previous challenges of dealing with shared disks and split-brain cluster scenarios,” Peluso says. “The SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn feature, combined with Windows Server 2008 clustering, provides us with a much easier and more efficient process for providing high availability.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 39000 employees

Organization Profile
Based in Sydney, Telstra is Australia's leading telecommunications and information services company. Created in 1901as part of the Postmaster-General’s Department, Telstra became a private corporation in 1993.

Hardware
EMC VNX Series

Third Party Software
EMC Avamar 6.1

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Services

Vertical Industries
Communications and Network Service Providers

IT Issue
High Availability

Languages
English

Partner(s)
EMC Microsoft Services

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