NetApp Helps Thales Provide Efficient Control of Air Traffic–Control Systems

Sydney, AUSTRALIA - February 9, 2011 - Originating in France more than a century ago, Thales is an electronics and systems business serving the defence, aerospace, space, security, and transport markets in Australia and throughout the world. Thales is one of Australia's leaders in research and development, with strong affiliations with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and leading tertiary institutions. The company employs around 3,500 people in Australia.

In recent years, Thales began to branch into civilian areas such as infrastructure and major transport projects. This includes developing and supplying air traffic-control systems that are used by the world's airports. The development hub for this solution is based in Melbourne, Australia.

The challenge
Thales's Melbourne-based development centre for air traffic-control systems was managing an expanding IT environment that was getting busier by the day. Responsibility for effective, streamlined control of air traffic relies on Thales operating a high-availability tier-1 storage environment. Part of the company's legacy storage system was responsible for around 70 million files, or 6 terabytes of data, which was increasing by about 1 million files per month. The existing system offered very little space or flexibility for further growth. This led to performance-based issues, downtime, and loss of productivity, which, if allowed to continue, would have led to significant commercial penalties for not delivering on commercial contractual commitments.

Thales attempted to maintain and upgrade the old system, but faced considerable management and performance issues with the legacy operating system, causing further outages. The inefficient older system was also causing backups to take longer than necessary, diverting resources away from higher-priority tasks and delaying project delivery. Thales also needed a reliable, efficient disaster recovery solution in place.

The solution
Thales teamed with NetApp to develop and implement a tier-1 storage solution that offered scalability for future growth; simple, Web-based management; deduplication to maximise efficient use of disk space; snapshot replication for faster backups; and functionality to implement a comprehensive disaster recovery solution in the near future. The team needed a storage system for the Melbourne development centre, as well as a production system for its Sydney office, plus a system for Sydney that could be used for disaster recovery and to replicate data from Thales's other key Australian sites, including Melbourne, Sydney, and regional sites around the country.

Rishi Trivedi, systems engineer-site lead, Thales Australia, said, "We didn't consider any vendor other than NetApp, because NetApp offered the exact feature set we were after on a high-performance, high-availability environment at an affordable price."

The solution included a NetApp FAS3160 system for the Melbourne development centre, a NetApp FAS3040 for production in Sydney, and a NetApp FAS3140 for disaster recovery. In addition, Thales is in the process of virtualizing its infrastructure with VMware® technology, with the goal of a 99% virtual infrastructure with 1% physical. The Sydney server farm was upgraded from 20 host servers housing 220 virtual machines to 200 virtual machines on just 6 hosts. This process is continuing across Australia at Thales's 35 other locations.

"As part of this upgrade process, it's important for us to be able to reduce our physical and virtual footprints, so virtualizing, replicating, and deduplicating are all very important tools for us," said Trivedi. "We're working with companies to control 50% of the world's air traffic, so we need to provide a reliable, flexible solution which is going to help make our services and our customers ready for the future. NetApp technologies have helped us to do that."

Business Benefits
Since implementing the NetApp storage system, Thales has experienced a range of technical and business benefits. Rishi Trivedi said, "When we initially installed the new system, we experienced a seamless cutover of 70 million files one evening from Sydney to Melbourne, and there wasn't a single user call logged the next morning. We work with advanced users and developers, so we expected calls and we didn't receive any, because they couldn't find any issues and there was no downtime. In fact, there has been no downtime since the system was installed.

"With thin provisioning, we can allocate space quickly and efficiently," Trivedi went on. "NetApp Snapshot® copies let us back up our data in minutes, compared to the hours it took previously. These simple tools, combined with the fact that we have no jobs logged from customers, has resulted in massive time savings and soaring productivity, meaning important projects are progressing quicker than ever before."

Thales implemented NetApp deduplication across all of its data, which immediately reduced the storage space required from 10TB to approximately 5TB. "The NetApp system is like night and day compared to the old system. The IT team loves it for its reporting capabilities and ease of administration. We now have the ability to see how much storage space each user is consuming, which we didn't before. Not only that, but NetApp has made it all so simple to implement, monitor, and manage.

"Our users are happy, the business is happy, we're experiencing zero downtime, no performance issues, we have room to grow, and plenty of room to plan. All of the issues we faced in the past are gone, and the whole business is benefiting as a result. Our relationship with NetApp is going to be a long-term one, because NetApp's solutions are becoming integral to our entire infrastructure."

Next steps
Due to the success of the initial NetApp implementation, Thales has decided to use NetApp technology for all of its backup, disaster recovery, and file-sharing requirements. Thales is currently in the process of installing NetApp FAS2040 systems at its remote sites, which will be replicated back to the Sydney-based disaster recovery system. By the end of March 2011, all backup and disaster recovery will be executed remotely, back to Sydney.

Solution components

  • NetApp FAS3160 storage system
  • NetApp FAS3140 storage system
  • NetApp FAS3040 storage system
  • 5 x NetApp FAS2040 storage systems
  • Deduplication
  • Thin provisioning
  • Snapshot
  • SnapMirror®
  • SnapVault®
  • Operations Manager



Third-party products

  • VMware vSphere™ servers
  • VMware Site Recovery Manager

Media Contact:
Rachel York
Max Australia
+61 29469 5740