NetApp Customer Case Study: Diversus Group Uses NetApp Unified Storage for Fast Access to Simulated Customer Environments
Sydney, AUSTRALIA - November 18,
To provide a storage system to support high levels of data transfer
from remote users, whose job it is to accurately simulate customer
storage environments in real time, without losing information or
slowing data transfer.
Unified storage solution based on NetApp® FAS2000 series
scalable architecture, several NetApp SnapManager®
applications, NetApp FlexClone®, NetApp Simulate ONTAP™
and NetApp Operations Manager.
- 80% bandwidth saving
- Minimal maintenance/management required
- Consistently above 65% storage utilisation
- Consistently positive remote user experience
Diversus Group is a fast-growing, Australian professional and
advisory services consultancy that aims to provide customers with
the benefits of reduced cost, complexity and risk when it comes to
data storage and management.
With offices in Canberra, Sydney, and
Melbourne, the company's focus areas are:
- Consolidation and storage of business data
- Data protection
- System and solution operations and management
- Timely access to data to provide a solid customer
Diversus Group is a NetApp Platinum Certified
Diversus Group's consultants work with
customers to help them enable and implement change in their IT
In practical terms, the company's consultants
are engaged with NetApp customers to provide an independent,
third-party perspective on storage. This can include simulating the
proposed storage environment and creating a testbed so the customer
can understand more clearly how the final implementation will work
and benefit the business.
Diversus Group is a small business with 80% of its staff being
remote users. Headquarters and IT infrastructure are based in
Canberra, and consultants work in Sydney and Melbourne.
Being able to run a testbed with storage
simulation requires high levels of data transfer, as well as the
need for immediate access to information. Diversus Group's
challenge was to be able to offer customers reliable, accurate
simulations of their proposed storage environments in real time,
without the risk of losing information or slowing data
Aaron Pickering, chief technologist for
Diversus Group, says, "From the outset, we intended to grow our
business quickly, so we knew the storage infrastructure we chose
had to be robust enough to meet the challenge.
"In the small business environment,
especially a consultancy, cash is king, and information is
critical. So if you're at the office dealing with IT issues rather
than in front of customers, you're losing money. If your data
storage system fails and you lose information, it can be a fatal
blow to the business.
"We wanted a back-end system that didn't
require a full-time IT staff member and would give us the
flexibility to run our business remotely. We needed an efficient,
consistent, streamlined storage environment that we could use to
not only simulate customer situations in real time, in an
affordable package; but also house all of our critical business
Being a NetApp Platinum Certified Delivery Partner, Diversus Group
chose to partner with NetApp for its storage requirements.
Diversus Group implemented a storage system
based on the NetApp FAS2000 unified storage architecture. The
FAS2000 is a scalable system designed for companies that have
complex, growing data environments in dispersed or remote
Pickering says, "Our consultants are talking
to customers every day about the benefits and breakthroughs NetApp
storage systems can bring to their businesses. So it's critical
that our own NetApp system is robust, reliable and fast. If it
weren't, we couldn't speak to customers with true passion about the
"Scalability is very important, considering
the rate at which our business has grown and the speed at which
system use is increasing. The NetApp architecture we've implemented
is highly scalable and allows us to do more with less."
The solution also included several NetApp
SnapManager applications to automate backup processes for key
- SnapManager for Microsoft® Exchange
- SnapManager for SharePoint®
- SnapManager for SQL Server®
- SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure
"In the three years since we began, we've
only had to recover data twice. Both times, we've gained full data
recovery within minutes using the NetApp SnapManager software,"
"A key element of our value-add as a
consultancy is that we can provide information fast, so spending
long periods recovering data is not an option. SnapManager gives us
the confidence that we will be able to recover our data, no matter
Diversus Group uses NetApp Simulate ONTAP so
consultants can create a testbed for customers to mimic their live
storage environments without risk.
The company also implemented NetApp
Operations Manager, a comprehensive dashboard to simplify storage
monitoring and management and provide an accurate picture of
storage resources. Consultants use NetApp Operations Manager to
show customers, within simulations, how they can alter storage
configurations, offering the customer a clearer understanding of
the proposed storage solution.
Diversus Group uses NetApp FlexClone to
instantly replicate data sets and data volumes as virtual copies,
without requiring additional storage space.
"Our ability to replicate customer
environments is key to our business," says Pickering. "An Active
Directory environment including applications such as Microsoft
SharePoint and Exchange usually equals around a quarter of a
terabyte of disk space for the test data and virtual machines.
Using our test and simulation environment in conjunction with
NetApp FlexClone, we are lucky to take up 20GB."
Diversus Group uses four VMware® ESX
servers, which all run on NetApp NFS data stores. Two servers are
used in the production environment and two for the test and
"This gives us the virtualization 'double
play.' When you virtualize both servers and storage, you are able
to provide much more with less, while remaining flexible to the
changing requirements of a fast-paced industry," says
Consultants access data remotely from around
the country to set up full test environments on laptops in as
little as an hour. Diversus Group deployed Riverbed®
Steelhead® WAN optimisation tools at the Canberra head office
to complement the investment in NetApp storage technology. The
benefits of WAN optimisation are pushed out to the laptops using
the Riverbed Steelhead Mobile Controller.
"No matter what you tell customers, the power
is in what you show them. Fast turnaround time is essential when
we're sitting in a customer's office simulating that customer's
storage environment," Pickering says. "It makes sure we are able to
show customers the challenges and implications of certain
"With the technology we've implemented in our business, we now have
a very low-administration, low-overhead, reliable, scalable,
high-performance system that requires no more than an hour of
interaction each week," Pickering says. "For example, adding
Riverbed applications to the NetApp implementation has allowed us
to save about 80% of bandwidth.
"It means as a small business, we don't need
to have a dedicated IT resource. The system provides us with e-mail
alerts if there's an issue, so we don't have to pay someone to sit
in the office and maintain it."
Diversus Group had specific targets it wanted
to achieve prior to implementing the NetApp storage infrastructure,
which were all exceeded. These included:
- Deduplication of production virtual machines
- Target: Above 30%
- Achieved: Consistently above 65%
- Benefit: Less disk required, less space consumed, and less
- Ability to create multiple copies of data set to run
validation testing or simulation
- Target: Within 30 minutes, using minimal space
- Achieved: Less than 10 minutes, using less than 10GB
- Benefit: Fast access to information to show benefits to clients
on the spot
- Decrease environmental impact
- Target: Consolidate entire IT infrastructure to less than 42
- Achieved: Full networking, production, and development
environments consolidated on 22 rack units
- Benefit: Less space required, less heating, cooling and power
Pickering says, "The results we've achieved
allow us to take our business further, all while minimising our
impact on the environment through a smaller equipment footprint and
a strong focus on our virtualization strategy. We also have a drive
toward a paperless office environment, because we believe that even
smaller companies like ours can take big steps in the right
direction of being 'green.'
"We've made a significant investment in these
technologies, because they are not just what we use to run the back
end of our business, they are the tools we use to sell and deliver
our service. It's one thing to put together an efficient,
streamlined back-end environment, but if it's not consistent in
performance, our users will become frustrated. This means they will
be unlikely to upload critical design and other business data to
SharePoint and will not use the test/simulation environment,
regardless of how good the tools are.
"If the experience for the remote user is not
adequate and consistent, then we are failing as a business. Our
strong ability to give our customers a good experience is founded
in the fact that our whole team has a positive experience with the
system. It's what helps to give them passion and belief in the
solutions they're offering customers, and it's this added value
that gives us our repeat business.
"In a business like ours, success can depend
upon how quickly you can recover from error. We can sleep easy,
knowing that in the unlikely event something fails, our corporate
data will be protected and is recoverable immediately, and our
profitability as a business won't be affected."
Next steps for Diversus Group include expansion domestically and
Pickering says, "We've had demand from
customers in Queensland, and we are working with customers in New
"Because we're so mobile and have a high
remote user base, we're a very dynamic business and can set up a
local operation quickly and easily."
From a storage perspective, next steps for
Diversus Group include investing in a second NetApp FAS2000 storage
platform and SATA drives to conserve more power.
"We will be driven by the user experience,
and we will grow our infrastructure as required, which won't be
difficult with NetApp technology driving the back end," concludes
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