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Royal Horticultural Society deploys green with Fordway

August 2008 by Marc Jacob

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the UK’s most influential gardening charity, now has a greener data storage infrastructure as well as lower storage-related capital and operating costs following the deployment of two energy-efficient storage area networks (SANs) from Compellent. The charity also benefits from a more robust and proactive disaster recovery platform for its library of over 200,000 high resolution horticultural images, with server recovery times reduced from 12 days to 24 hours.

The RHS requires its IT infrastructure, which includes 40 servers and 600 PCs, to be fully operational at all times so that members can gain entry to its gardens, new membership applications can be handled, transactions at the Society’s shops can be processed and suppliers can be paid.

The IT infrastructure, which was installed by Fordway, one of Compellent’s UK channel partners, plays a key role in the successful organisation and management of the RHS flower shows – including the Society’s annual flagship events at Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park.

Commenting on the solution, Phillip Gladwin, IT security and operations manager at the RHS, comments: “It’s fast, effective and right at the cutting edge – and is incredibly easy to manage. It also offers us immediate and long term cost savings, while helping us do our bit for the environment.”

The Society selected a 12TB Compellent SAN featuring automated tiered storage and thin provisioning for its primary London data centre comprising two controllers with 2.5TB of high-performance Fibre Channel (FC) capacity and 9.5TB of low-cost SATA capacity. A second Compellent SAN, located approximately a mile away, also had two controllers but the entire 12TB capacity was made up only with low-cost SATA drives.

Initially, all images were loaded onto the high-speed FC drives on the primary SAN. As usage patterns emerged, the system automatically moved the least accessed images to the lower cost SATA drives, and then back up to the faster drives if they became more popular so that they could be accessed and downloaded more quickly.

The entire solution saved the RHS a considerable amount of money and also contributed to a greener storage solution, as SATA drives require much less power than FC drives.

Going forward, the Society plans to connect around 30 of its servers to the SAN and move towards a virtual environment in order to ensure a more effective level of server utilisation. The RHS will continue to pool all server and storage resources, so the Compellent story at the Royal Horticultural Society will continue to blossom for many years to come.

Andy Hardy, managing director of international sales at Compellent, adds: "By deploying a Compellent SAN, organisations are able to cut the short and longer term costs associated with data storage, while also reducing the carbon footprint of their IT assets.

“The RHS also benefited from our automated tiered storage, thin provisioning and continuous snapshot technologies, which strengthened its disaster recovery capabilities without the complexity and time taken by more traditional SAN infrastructures.“

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