2 page Case Study
Posted: 12/11/2013
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AGC AusGroup Construction Firm Trims $275,000 in Capital, Operating Costs with Hybrid Cloud Storage

AGC AusGroup wanted to preserve its expensive storage area networks (SANs) for production storage and find a cheaper solution for archived and infrequently used data. It deployed hybrid cloud storage from Microsoft based on StorSimple and Windows Azure to avoid storage expenses worth US$275,000 and reduce storage management time. AGC can scale storage instantly and affordably and can add another StorSimple unit to gain faster disaster recovery.

Business Needs
AGC AusGroup provides a range of fabrication, manufacturing, construction, and operational services to the mining and minerals, oil and gas, defense, utilities, and infrastructure industries across Australia and Southeast Asia. It helps customers large and small build, maintain, and upgrade some of the world’s most challenging natural resource development projects. Depending on its projects underway, the company’s workforce fluctuates between 1,000 and 2,000 people.

AGC is particularly dependent on the oil and gas industry, which has slowed in recent months. All areas of the company, including the IT department, have been asked to minimize capital outlays and do more with less. The IT department had just invested US$500,000 in two large storage area networks (SANs) to provide production and archival storage at its two data centers. However, the expensive SANs were filling up with older data that had to be kept for compliance reasons but wasn’t accessed frequently.

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* By investing in StorSimple, we’ve been able to delay the purchase of another $125,000 SAN and help the business minimize capital outlays in a challenging economic climate. *

David Olive
ICT Technical Manager, AGC AusGroup

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Because it had just implemented an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, AGC data requirements would continue to grow, and it wanted to save its SANs for production data. Further, the IT staff found Symantec Enterprise Vault, the system used for archival, to be difficult and time-consuming to manage.

Solution
AGC AusGroup wanted to move its archives and older production data to low-cost cloud storage to preserve its expensive SANs for daily storage needs. It evaluated solutions from a number of vendors and ultimately selected StorSimple and Windows Azure. The StorSimple family of cloud-integrated storage solutions is an on-premises enterprise SAN that interoperates with Windows Azure to provide hybrid cloud storage for primary, backup, archive, and disaster recovery needs.

“What attracted us to the StorSimple and Windows Azure solution was its tie-in with other Microsoft products that we use,” says David Olive, Information and Communications Technology Technical Manager at AGC AusGroup. “We could use our Microsoft Enterprise Agreement to pay for it, and management through the Windows Azure portal is very advanced compared to some of the competitive solutions. We’ve just started experimenting with cloud services, and we wanted a partner who has been in the game for a while. We were confident that Microsoft was that partner.”

AGC received a StorSimple unit and had it up and running within a couple of days. Microsoft Services Consulting provided assistance and answered questions. AGC migrated all of its archived and shared user data into StorSimple, which stores frequently used data on solid-state drives for very fast performance. Older or less frequently used data is stored either on serial-attached SCSI drives or in Windows Azure. “The storage tiering works really well and is transparent to users,” says Michael Greven, Senior Server Engineer at AGC AusGroup. “They don’t see or care where the data is; it just works. We haven’t had to manage or tune that at all.”

AGC can adjust how frequently and quickly StorSimple sends data to the cloud; it instructs StorSimple to send data to Windows Azure at full speed at night but to slow transfer speeds during business hours to preserve Internet bandwidth for employee use.

Because of its success in using StorSimple for archival, AGC is considering storing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 data there, too, which will free up even more space on the SANs. Using StorSimple data deduplication, AGC could compress its 7 terabytes of SharePoint data to just 2 to 3 terabytes. The company would also like to replace its third-party backup solution with StorSimple and purchase a second StorSimple unit for disaster recovery.

Benefits
By deploying Microsoft hybrid cloud storage, AGC AusGroup has been able to significantly reduce storage costs and gain instant and affordable storage scalability. With a second StorSimple unit, it can create a robust disaster recovery solution.

Avoid $275,000 in Storage Expenses
Now that AGC can push older data out to the cloud, it can better utilize expensive SANs for critical applications. “By investing in StorSimple, we’ve been able to delay the purchase of another $125,000 SAN and help the business minimize capital outlays in a challenging economic climate,” Olive says. “We’ve also been able to remove our reliance on the Symantec Enterprise Vault software, a licensing savings of $20,500 annually, and reduce our storage-related operating costs.”

Further, by moving all of its SharePoint Server data to StorSimple and taking advantage of deduplication, AGC could reduce 7 terabytes of locally stored SharePoint Server data to 2 to 3 terabytes, a storage savings of $50,000 to $60,000.

Reduce Storage Management Time
IT staff used to spend about four hours a week resolving employee support issues related to file restoration. “With StorSimple, restoring files is much easier,” Olive says. “We just go to the console and enter a few keystrokes. This returns four hours a week to my staff to work on business improvement activities. Because of the tough economy, we have limited IT staff budget, so the ability to eliminate some operational tasks lets us better focus on what’s important to the business.”

Scale Storage Instantly and Affordably
In the past, the IT staff had to shuffle data around in the SAN to accommodate new projects. “By storing data in Windows Azure, we have the confidence that if we need additional storage, it’s there, at an affordable cost,” Olive says. “To be honest, we’ll probably never use the amount of storage that we have available in Windows Azure—65 terabytes, which is about the same amount that we have in our SANs but at a tenth of the cost.”

Gain Faster Disaster Recovery
During its next budget cycle, AGC plans to purchase a second StorSimple unit and put it in a second location for disaster recovery. “This would give us a much improved disaster recovery solution with faster recovery times and lower outage periods. With StorSimple, we would be able to get critical applications back up and running in two hours rather than two days,” Olive says.

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Solution Overview



Organization Size: 2000 employees

Organization Profile

AGC AusGroup provides fabrication, manufacturing, construction, and integrated services to natural resource development companies in Australia and Southeast Asia. The firm is based in Perth, Australia.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Microsoft Services
  • Microsoft Consulting Services
  • Datacenter
  • StorSimple

Vertical Industries
  • Heavy Construction
  • Life Sciences, Chemicals; Oil & Gas, Mining

Country/Region
Australia

Business Need
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Cloud & Server Platform

Languages
English

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