The Reporter
ssue 492, 29 September 2003
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A new way of managing data storage for the University


On 15 August 2003, Information Systems Services, on behalf of the University, entered into a contract with the Dell Computer Corporation for the supply, installation and support of a new storage area network (SAN) and centralised backup solution (CBS).

The signing of the contract marks the end of a major procurement phase which began with the production of a business case in January this year. The contract will be worth in excess of £750,000 over 3 years and will provide for the University’s growing demand for more storage.

So what does this all mean to you as an end user? Well, hopefully nothing –- in the sense that its introduction will be transparent. What it will mean is that the way in which the University manages its data will change. Did you know that half the University’s current disk space is unused but also unavailable? This is because disk space is locally attached to individual servers, so the 'space' is in the wrong place at the wrong time. All this data can be consolidated onto the SAN which will offer significant efficiency gains. The SAN is much more fault-tolerant than conventional disk, meaning your data will be more available, leading to decreases in downtime and offering much improved disaster recovery capability. The SAN will allow us to implement advanced features such as data-mirroring (storing more than one copy of critical data) more easily. We will be able to take 'snapshots' of our critical data, such as our SAP database holding all the university’s financial and HR data. This is much quicker than conventional backup to tape (although we will still do that as well – to ensure that all the data is 'safe').

The SAN and CBS are due to be commissioned in November this year with key ISS managed services moving over to the new storage over the coming 12 months. One of the first systems to benefit from this will be the new SAP system hardware, prior to the SAP upgrade in January. You will be able to access to the SAN via centrally managed systems and storage space will also be available for dedicated research needs too. ISS plan to pilot these services in spring next year, with the full scale roll-out across campus taking place next summer. A second phase of the SAN project is set to deliver further storage and increased functionality, particularly in the area of research needs and data archiving,

More information on the project can be obtained from Adrian Ellison (



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