Aliant taps EMC for storage as data centres consolidate

Network failures still happen at one of Canada’s incumbent telcos, but following a partnership with EMC hardly anyone at the company notices them.

Halifax based Aliant Inc. said

Monday it is in the process of consolidating four data centres into one, a project that executives said requires a more scaleable and secure storage area network (SAN). The two companies have been working together for four months. The EMC solution includes it Symmetrix and Clariion IP 4700 systems, as well as EMC software. Aliant is also using EMC Data Manager (EDM) and Timefinder to perform simultaneous back up of all Aliant servers without disruptions.

Aliant, which employs approximately 10,200 employees, is in a unique position of being composed of a number of smaller telecommunication companies, said EMC telecommunications and media area manger Ross Allen.

The EMC solution allowed Aliant to cut 80 servers from its SAN. Add to that the reduced time spent on troubleshooting and maintenance and the savings should add up to a full return on the solution within a year, said Aliant vice-president of engineering Bob Justason..

Aliant predicts that the total savings from introducing this new solution should top $6 million over the next six years.

The investment has already proven itself a good decision, said Justason.

“”We just had a database failure,”” Justason said. “” Once we got back up we found out that all the applications were still running. None of the users noticed. So it worked! Not the way I’d like to test it, but it worked!””

Trying to catch up to IBM and HP, its main competitors, has led EMC to offer top quality solutions at more competitive prices than in the past, said Evans Research Corp. senior market analyst Jennifer Ewen.

“”They’d justified their higher price by the high quality of their products and the comprehensiveness of the software included with them,”” she said. “”But recently they’ve been doing some significant price cutting.””

One of the most valuable aspects of the EMC SAN solutions to IT mangers is the company’s record of supporting its product, Ewen said.

“”EMC has a bit of a different approach to support, they have software that’s built in that has the ability to phone home and contact the EMC support center and allow them to do remote diagnostics,”” she said. “”EMC will phone you and say ‘Gee you’re approaching capacity on this one, we suggest that you do X, Y and Z to solve this issue.’ Certainly that would feed into savings, if a company was able to offload some of the diagnostics off their own people.””

The scalability of the solution is also something the company hopes will drive customers to EMC, Allen said.

“”They can grow that platform that they currently have within the existing infrastructure and just add new storage quite simply by attaching it and the software instantly recognizes it,”” he said.

The scalability of the EMC solution made it the clear choice for Aliant, Justason said.

“”As we grow, we plan to expand our use of their solutions. I think we have a foundation right now that I think we could grow from quite easily,”” he said.

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