NetApp and FlexPod help Harbour IT reduce admin, save storage space and scale for the future with new cloud offering
- June 9, 2011 -
Harbour IT was started in 2001 by the group of experienced business
partners that were behind prominent Australian IT enterprise
company, CIC Technology. Over the past ten years, Harbour IT has
branched into providing leading IT solutions, IT support and cloud
services from a predominantly managed services beginning.
Harbour IT has a 120-strong team of business
and technical consultants servicing a range of customers across
Australia in industry verticals such as financial services, retail,
manufacturing and customer service based organisations. Customers
include notable brands such as The Coffee Club and Australian Home
Seeing the cloud as the next natural
progression for IT, Harbour entered the IT-as-a-service market in
2009 with a small private cloud. They now run two clouds across two
data centres with the primary production site based in Sydney and
the disaster recovery and back up site based in Melbourne,
Harbour IT's typical customers are mid-sized
enterprises but they have conducted a number of enterprise-level
implementations on the back of their SME success.
Harbour IT is a NetApp Gold Partner.
Harbour IT went to market seeking a SAN storage partner to help
launch their new cloud product and upgrade the company's existing
The company was previously relying on a
hybrid of technologies to deliver a single solution but this
presented problems such as management overheads, maintenance and
upgrade costs, and reporting requirements which reduced the overall
efficiency of the infrastructure.
This prevented Harbour IT from applying a
common approach to the processes and procedures to the environment
they were supporting, with each customer requiring their own set of
rules and checklists, causing delays.
As part of its legacy infrastructure, the
Harbour IT storage environment was only 15TB in capacity, and new
customers were already committing to additional storage upwards of
50TB. This required a platform that would scale with their
anticipated growth, expected to be around 200 per cent over 9
months, and more specifically, provide both private and public
secure cloud options to customers.
Harbour IT could not compromise on secure
multi-tenancy either, as it formed the basis of providing its
customers with a secure IT environment. A separate infrastructure
for each customer is cost prohibitive for both providers and
Adam Simpson, Cloud Manager for Harbour IT, said, "Businesses seek
around a 30 percent cost saving from the cloud for it to be a
feasible option for them to consider, and understandably, small and
mid-size enterprises want the same equipment and advantages that
the top enterprises enjoy.
"We needed a solution from a credible vendor
who could back up its marketing claims with a genuine multi-tenancy
solution, whilst still providing low TCO, scalability and
flexibility to meet our changing business needs and those of our
"Our customers need a multi-tiered storage
solution that performs across multiple applications - specifically
Microsoft Exchange and MS SQL - whilst at the same time providing
cost-effective storage for everyday services such as file and
To meet its criteria of affordability, reliability and scalability
at a tier-one level, Harbour IT decided to partner with NetApp, to
implement NetApp and Cisco's FlexPod for VMware solution.
"The easy integration and complementary
technologies of the FlexPod, as well as the security and
performance offered in a multi-tenanted environment was an
attractive proposition," said Simpson.
The pre-certified and validated design of
FlexPod meant there was limited downtime in establishing the new
infrastructure and it was up and running in three months instead of
the six months that the original environment took to establish.
As part of the FlexPod design, Harbour IT
selected a NetApp FAS 3140 storage system for its primary data
centre based in Sydney, and implemented a NetApp FAS 2040 storage
system into its secondary data centre in Melbourne. Harbour IT runs
the NetApp Enterprise Software suite of applications to enable
site-to-site replication of client data on these systems.
The NetApp FAS 3140 acts as raw storage
capacity, while the NetApp FAS 2040 performs the disaster recovery
function. This means that in the event of a customer fail over,
Harbour IT replicates everything to the Melbourne site using
enterprise tools such as NetApp SnapShot and NetApp SnapVault.
"NetApp's deduplication and compression were
far better than anything offered by its key competitors. When we
started our data analysis it became evident we didn't need as large
a link between Sydney and Melbourne as we had planned originally,
making the implementation not only cost effective but easier and
far more efficient," Simpson said.
As the links between its two data centres
were smaller than originally estimated, this equated into real
dollar savings of tens of thousands per month for Harbour IT.
Simpson was also attracted to the native
technology of NetApp which speaks to non-NetApp SANs, its IP
connectivity and other significant technological advantages over
the offerings from other SAN providers. As a result, the NetApp
products seamlessly integrate not only with Cisco and VMware
through FlexPod, but also Harbour IT's reporting and management
products from BMC and other tools from Microsoft.
Harbour IT found its initial cloud offering sold out quickly
despite only limited internal marketing to its existing managed
"In terms of where we started, we initially
planned for three times the disk storage capacity of the old
solution," said Simpson. "That requirement basically doubled by the
time we went into production, and our customer pipeline doubled
again over the next three months."
Harbour IT's success, coupled with customer
disk requirements growing at 10-15 per cent per month, required a
scalable solution able to meet ongoing and future growth.
"As a result, the conversations we're
currently having with NetApp are quite exponential," said Simpson.
"This gives our business the flexibility to meet market demand and
the ability to respond quickly to the changing needs of our
"A lot of potential customers are on the
front foot about bringing true cost savings back to the business
and they see the cloud as the option to do it.
"The FlexPod environment has a lower cost of
ownership per terabyte compared to other providers which has
allowed us to pass on the savings to our customers but also invest
in other technologies that benefit our customer experience."
With FlexPod, Harbour IT is saving between 15
and 20 percent on power, 30 percent in storage, and backups are now
down to a couple of hours per night. Administration has also
Simpson said, "We are now in a position where
the reports are generated automatically, and then checked for
accuracy and content, saving us one week a month in report
As a result, the business has been able to
invest those savings into automation tools and online
Customer behaviour has also changed. Through
NetApp SnapShot technology customers are able to use the services
they require in the cloud seamlessly and on demand.
"This is where the genuine business
flexibility comes in," said Simpson.
"We can take a snapshot of an environment or
provide a terabyte of disk space immediately without any concerns
of over-provisioning and there are zero time or performance issues
for the customers."
The average customer also receives the
benefit of a tier-one disaster recovery solution, providing
customer peace-of-mind and additional marketability for Harbour
"FlexPod is secure, it's tried and tested,
and best of breed, so it gives customers the comfort that we've
invested in the technology so they don't have to," said
Additionally, the implementation of FlexPod
has allowed for a range of non-technology related benefits.
Harbour IT's technical teams have been
unlocked from once repetitive tasks that involved highly skilled,
dedicated staff, to an environment that can be managed by other
non-dedicated teams through a single, secure console. This has
allowed the business to deploy staff to more customer specific
tasks related to Harbour IT's core business, providing greater
end-user results, and ultimately, increased customer
"As we grew our customer base we would have
needed to add additional staff to the management and reporting
teams, as well as experienced issues around integration and
performance due to the complexity of the environment. We avoided
both of these problems and built a platform that would scale and
perform to our customers' requirements, with NetApp."
With its business built on NetApp, Harbour IT is seeing a growing
number of wins in its infrastructure-as-a-service space, which they
anticipate to continue. One area of growth enabled by FlexPod has
been the ability to white box parts of their environment, allowing
Harbour IT to segregate solutions to software developers and other
"For anyone in IT this has been one of the
most innovative periods we have seen, and it's going to be
interesting to see those that haven't adopted the technology and
how they survive," Simpson concluded.
- NetApp and Cisco's FlexPod for VMware
- NetApp FAS 3140 storage system
- NetApp FAS 2040 storage system
- NetApp Enterprise tools including Snapshot and SnapVault
+61 29469 5740