Media Room

Global Engineering Company Achieves Substantial Reduction in Storage TCO with Moonwalk

Aurecon – A Global Engineering Company
Aurecon provides engineering, advisory and project management services for public and private sector clients globally. With a history dating back to 1932, Aurecon has an operations network extending across twenty six countries and has been involved in projects in over eighty countries across Africa, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Americas. Aurecon employs around 7,500 people over 11 industry groups.

The Challenge: Managing Project Data in a Geographically Distributed Organisation
Aurecon generates a large amount of unstructured data ranging from Microsoft Office and project management style documentation through to engineering design files and large 2D/3D modelling data sets. Being a project oriented organisation means that Aurecon needed to adopt a varied approach to data lifecycle management.

There is also a major compliance factor particularly in the area of contract, design and drawing where the data needs to be kept ‘in perpetuity’ to varying degrees depending upon contract and legislative requirements.

With two main data centres and a geographically distributed office network, keeping this data distributed throughout the offices makes the effective management of these data sets a very expensive challenge, particularly with respect to both production storage and backup media.

The existing storage environment is predominantly EMC including SAN and CENTERA Object Store devices.

Addressing the Problem 
“Having recently performed a storage refresh, we were able to define a cost per MB on our production, archive, DR, and backup data sources” said Greg Walker, Manager, Design & Infrastructure.” Then, by using Moonwalk initially to analyse the unstructured data, we were able to determine several things. Firstly, we were able to plot the exponential growth rate of data over the next five years with a degree of confidence. Secondly we could see that more than 50% of our current data was more than two years old – and suitable for immediate archive using Moonwalk.

A sound understanding of data holdings is key to determining the best way forward and most importantly, to determine the Return on Investment to be achieved through implementation of a data management solution.

Greg continues, “Using these statistics allowed us to calculate that the cost of moving the data that was older than two years to the cheaper archive storage tier would only cost 30% of what it would be to leave that data on the production storage and cater for the ongoing backup of that data.

In fact this showed a Return on Investment in approximately 18 months across the storage tiers.”

The Selection Process
Aurecon invested time and effort in the selection process. Using a detailed specification requirement the company entered into an evaluation process across a number of products. This process involved running the various products in a Proof of Concept environment to test how the software behaved and to confirm suitability.

“Most of these products were not able to natively cater for the cross referenced drawing files and documents that are core to our business” said Greg.

There are significant advantages attached to the unique architecture of Moonwalk.  Greg continues, “Moonwalk has a very light weight footprint. We were able to complete the design, the implementation, and transition as a live operational service within a few weeks.”

Moonwalk – An Enterprise Data Management Platform that just “Loads and Goes”
In November 2012, Aurecon in Melbourne moved to its new building, the Aurecon Centre in the Docklands.

Prior to the move, they decided to use the Melbourne office as the Moonwalk pilot site and do a little stress testing in the hope that this would mean less data for the Infrastructure Team to physically relocate when relocating the office.

“We moved about 12TB down the primary WAN link in an initial four week period but it took us a little while to understand how to really utilise the link size,” says Greg.  “We learnt quite a bit in that time about tuning the Moonwalk software to find the sweet spot.”

Moonwalk can be tuned to take the most effective utilisation of the network and/or to work most cooperatively with other users’ application software.

As Greg says  “Obviously you want to push as much Moonwalk data down your link as you can but you don’t want to negatively affect other traffic on that link, so we spent some time with getting the balance correct. 

“Then over that quiet period Christmas provides us, we deployed Moonwalk to all remaining sites. We learnt how to really ‘smash’ our WAN links and were able to ingest over 90TB of data in to our Centera Archive Storage. 

“Data is now archived on a continuing basis according to Aurecon’s data management policies”. 

Moonwalk from an Operational Perspective
Given Aurecon’s global footprint there is quite a variety in WAN link sizes and eligible data for archiving across the various sites. According to Greg, “The beauty of Moonwalk is that once you have tuned the ‘walkers’ to the sweet spot for that link size/utilisation, it’s almost a case of set and forget.

“Staff impact is negligible. We will occasionally see some delay in retrieving large files over distant and small links but we have strategies for effectively managing this.

“All Moonwalk traffic is encrypted. Whilst this is a fundamental requirement to ensure data security and integrity, it also bypasses the WAN acceleration infrastructure. The Moonwalk team will be working with us to see how we might address this and achieve maximum possible throughput across our WAN infrastructure.

“From an overall data management perspective, we have far greater visibility on the file server data now. It no longer feels like the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge.”