Pictured: Karen, O’Connor, Datapac and Emmett Nolan, Topaz

Datapac transforms storage and back-up to support Topaz growth

Topaz has been experiencing rapid expansion of its critical data volumes over the last number of years. Business information was growing rapidly year-on-year and had reached the point where the company’s storage requirements had outgrown its existing infrastructure in terms of space, and performance. Topaz turned to ICT solutions provider Datapac to find the best storage and recovery solution to future proof the company as it continues to grow.

Datapac has been a partner of Topaz since its formation in 2005 when Topaz acquired the downstream interests of Shell in Ireland. In 2006 it also acquired the downstream interests of Statoil in Ireland and is now the largest service station and convenience retailer in the country.  It has 1300 employees and more than 330 stations across Ireland, 120 of which are company owned while the remainder are dealer operated. Topaz also handles, stores and distributes about 40% of all oil products that comes into Ireland.

Scalable solutions for ever demanding applications and storage requirements

The IT team in Topaz supports the computing needs of the entire organisation and is split into three departments, infrastructure, applications and retail.  Datapac was tasked with implementing next-generation infrastructure that would provide increased storage capacity, quick data access and safeguard the company’s growing IT environment. It also needed to find a solution that would significantly improve backup time and eliminate the risk of failed backups.

Jim Gildea, IT Operations & Infrastructure manager with Topaz explained, “Over the past number of years the requirement for storage has increased along with the need for better manipulation of data. We now handle well over a million transactions a day. Our legacy storage system could no longer meet the demands of our growing organisation. Input/Output operations per second (IOPS), had increased four-fold in the past 4 years so we needed a solution that would provide greater performance for our critical applications.”

Datapac identified EMC VNX 5300 SANs as the best unified storage solution for Topaz. This next generation storage platform combines powerful and flexible hardware with advanced efficiency, management and protection software to meet the needs of Topaz.

Datapac has installed two EMC SANs for Topaz which are housed separately, one in its head office in Clonskeagh, Dublin 4 and the other at its site in Dublin Port Terminal, supporting the company’s disaster recovery objectives. The solution has delivered increased storage capacity and will ensure improved business continuity in the event of a loss of service at its primary site. EMC VNX ensures that the most active data is automatically stored on Flash drives for Topaz, while less active data is tiered to high capacity drives.

Topaz had already moved to a virtualised VMware environment which was supporting its rapid growth. Datapac upgraded the existing virtualised infrastructure to the latest version of VMware 5.1 and configured the networks to be compatible with the new SANs. For a company that started with a virtualised environment, the VNX is the ideal platform, providing full integration with the VMware virtualised solution.

According to Jim Gildea, “The new solution began to provide almost instant benefits with improved storage optimisation. There is an obvious decrease in IO bottlenecks and a big improvement in performance for critical applications.”

Improved business continuity with RecoverPoint

Datapac has also introduced EMC RecoverPoint for SAN to SAN replication between the two Topaz sites. EMC RecoverPoint allows Topaz to replicate application data to its secondary site for improved disaster recovery, using continuous remote replication (CRR). RecoverPoint applies compression and de-duplication in order to reduce traffic over the network, ensuring there is no impact on the performance or speed experienced by employees.

The technology also has point-in-time, DVR like recovery which has made any data loss reversible. The Topaz IT team can recover applications quickly to a selected time or event with assured consistency.

Powerful, reliable and easy to use backups

Veeam Backup & Replication is helping Topaz to achieve much faster backup times. Veeam provides image-based backup that allows for fast, efficient virtual machine (VM) backup and fast, flexible recovery of an entire VM, file or application item. Topaz can now run backups to meet its recovery point objectives. Its intuitive management, reliable backups and quick and easy restore have meant fewer administrator resources are needed to manage the process.

Backup and recovery times have been reduced considerably and with de-duplication included, Topaz can manage the large volumes of data generated by image-based backups and reduce backup storage consumption. .

Karen O’Connor, general manager service delivery, at Datapac commented, “Since we completed the implementation, Topaz has been experiencing reduced back-up times across the board and in one example it has reduced a task which previously took 14 hours to under three hours.

“The data de-duplication capabilities of the solution have also reduced the size of backup data before it is passed across the network, enabling faster daily full backups and throughput. Backup times have decreased by a factor of 4.5, with no network degradation.”

Cost effective solution delivering outstanding service

Jim Gildea summed up, “We started this project with the aim of increasing our storage capacity and improving performance. We now have a solution that also has an improved and more cost effective disaster recovery scenario with significantly reduced back-up times, providing a better overall service to the entire business. With VNX we can easily increase our storage capacity to meet future needs. This is extremely important for us. This agility ensures we can continue to deliver the highest quality services to our customers all around Ireland.”

Jim Gildea was the lead implementer for this project. Emmett Nolan has now taken over as infrastructure manager at Topaz and continues to work closely with Datapac.

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