A Multi-tiered Approach to Data Centralization, Consolidation and Elimination of Branch Office Backups
By using both Microsoft StorSimple and Talon FAST™, Capita P&I has been able to design a most scalable and cost effective hybrid cloud-based solution that helps scale the consumption and overall management of file-level / unstructured data throughout the distributed enterprise and eliminates branch office backups.
Capita P&I business delivers solutions, reduces costs and enhances services for a wide range of clients across central and local government as well as property developers, investors, occupiers, building contractors and a range of other commercial organizations and blue chip companies.
Capita Property & Infrastructure is UK’s leading provider of business process management and integrated professional support service solutions. This division of Capita is a multi-disciplinary consultancy operating in the building design, civil engineering, environment, management and transport sectors, with 68,000 staff across the UK, Europe, South Africa and India with annual revenue of $6.4B.
Capita P&I business delivers solutions, reduces costs and enhances services for a wide range of clients across central and local governments as well as property developers, investors, occupiers, building contractors and a range of other commercial organizations and blue chip companies.
Capita P&I needed to revisit the way that both users and IT are dealing with today’s and future data storage demands. The exponential growth of the storage and infrastructure footprint at both datacenter and branch office locations did not provide a scalable and resilient foundation to deliver IT services throughout the distributed enterprise for tomorrow’s needs and overall compliance.
Business users, including architects and knowledge workers often collaborate with the various disciplines within the company’s different offices and with 3rd party consultancy practices. Daren Stone, Capita P&I Change and Improvement manager notes “These offices wanted to share the special knowledge within these discreet offices to collaborate. Users found it very difficult to collaborate: replicating files, dragging and dropping files from one server to another and often sending the same files through e-mail.”
Capita P&I has identified a key set of business requirements needed to optimize the way it consumes and manages data:
- Create a Single Set of Data
- Deliver High Performance Real-time Collaboration
- BIM level 2 Compliance (Governmental requirements)
- Processing Power and Data
- Reduce Duplication and movement of data
- Flexible to Implement / Change
- Improved Backups
- Improved Resilience
- Improved Disaster Recovery
- Reduced footprint on each site, consolidate servers
- Cost savings by eliminating backups and complexity at the branch
Daren continues: “In some of our branch offices we needed to deploy and manage 6 or more different servers or storage devices in order to provide a ‘good enough’ level of service, however managing all this local file storage, backups and application servers is a real pain.”
Talon FAST™ deployed in conjunction with Microsoft StorSimple
The StorSimple family of cloud-integrated storage solutions is an on-premises enterprise SAN (storage area network) that interoperates with Microsoft Azure to provide hybrid cloud storage for primary, backup, archive, and disaster recovery needs. StorSimple 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 Microsoft Azure.
Talon FAST™ software helps organizations deliver business data continuity by providing a solution that transparently extends existing file sharing infrastructure out to distributed enterprise offices and users.
FAST™ ensures an optimal end user experience at every location through software that overcomes Microsoft Windows File Sharing performance challenges in distributed environment. Using Talon’s FAST™ Intelligent File Caching, central File Locking and Data Reduction / Compression, the software delivers a flexible, reliable and scalable Global File Sharing and Collaboration solution for the distributed enterprise.
For Capita P&I, the ability to centralize its data is essential for ease of access and collaboration for users on files, including typical Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, designer files and large project files, including Autodesk AutoCAD, Revit, Bentley Microstation, and other engineering applications.
However, that centralized data still needed to be local to those users, including architects and engineers, who need to leverage their desktop’s processing power in close proximity to the data. This showcased the need for the Intelligent File Caching aspect of the FAST™ solution, which only caches what’s needed at the branch, while providing high performance and immediate access to all data in the organization, and keeping the storage footprint to a minimum.
By using both Microsoft StorSimple and Talon FAST™, Capita P&I has been able to design a highly scalable and cost effective hybrid cloud-based solution that scales the consumption and overall management of file-level / unstructured data throughout the distributed enterprise.
Combining both solutions, Capita P&I has been able to deliver a “Single Set” of managed data at the datacenter, where a 400TB file set is fully archived and de-duplicated into the Microsoft Azure cloud. Subsequently, deploying a FAST™ virtual instance at the edge allowed for full consolidation of all Microsoft Services at the branch, including Active Directory, DNS/DHCP, DFS Namespace, and SCCM Software, on top of Microsoft Hyper-V only using a single physical server at these branch locations.
Data Centralization and IT Consolidation
The Microsoft StorSimple solution helped Capita P&I drastically reduce costs and IT infrastructure complexity by replacing its existing on-premise data center infrastructure, while deploying the Microsoft StorSimple solution in the main data center locations, extending all redundant storage aspects, including application data into the Microsoft Azure cloud data centers.
Talon FAST™ software aligns with this strategy by unifying the approach to present file-based content in a single global namespace, including file shares, folder structures, documents and project files, to end users throughout the distributed enterprise.
Collaboration & BIM Level 2 Compliance
Bringing data together allowed Capita P&I’s distributed user workforce to access central files and collaborate on projects from all the different offices.
“These requirements were mostly sparked by the UK government in its Level 2 requirements for the year 2016,” said Stone. “Bringing the data together allows users to work simultaneously on large project files from any location.”
Within a Building Information Model (BIM) integrated organization such as Capita P&I, it is a prerequisite to achieve a consistent design and eventually lower costs for the construction and management of buildings. The UK government requires that everyone involved in the execution of construction projects for the UK government from 2016 onwards should be able to support at least a BIM Level 2 process.
Elimination of Branch Office Backups & Cost
Talon FAST™ ensures the ultimate end user experience, enabling enterprises to create a native Microsoft-based, high performance collaborative file sharing infrastructure, leveraging existing Microsoft Enterprise Licensing, reducing existing branch office IT footprint, eliminating backups while consolidating all services, including Microsoft Active Directory, DNS/DHCP, Print Services, Software Distribution, into a unified single appliance infrastructure.
The FAST™ Intelligent File Caching mechanism simply caches a unique active data set that is used by knowledge workers or engineers at a specific branch location, which tiers the data into many different levels archived in the cloud, stores on a primary storage tier in the datacenter and extends into the branch office.
“As soon as you put our ‘Office-in-a-box’ in an office, all business users are able to pull their data back down from the datacenter file servers,” said Stone. “It much quicker, and in a disaster recovery situation, you get the business back up and running very, very quickly.”
The solution guarantees optimal global file access to all files at the datacenter. By consolidating services, and eliminating local storage and backup, Capita P&I has removed branch office backups and phased out expensive IT infrastructure at all of its branch locations.