Stemming the Digital Data Tide: AvcomEast helps Signature Styles Tame Data Center Costs and Improve Data Management with Sun Storage 7000 Systems
By Alison Weiss, July 2010
It’s a digital deluge. No matter the industry, geographic location, or online presence, companies everywhere are finding it necessary to manage increasing amounts of digital data with limited IT budgets. Sold both online and through mail-order catalogues throughout the U.S., New York-based Signature Styles L.LC. operates one of the leading networks of women’s fashion brands—including Spiegel, Newport-News, and Carabella. Along with Signature Styles’ success came some significant IT-related challenges. The company needed to address its growing data center costs while finding a suitable solution to handle their ever-expanding and disparate storage systems.
According to research prepared by IDC, the total amount of digital information created, captured, and replicated is growing at an estimated rate of 58 percent per year and it will reach an estimated 1,610 exabytes by 2011. The challenge for many enterprises is that they have typically relied upon a piecemeal approach to manage growing data storage requirements, often leaving them with complex architectures and siloed products that are both difficult to manage and costly to maintain. This was the case with Signature Styles. Its two data centers in New York City and Hampton, Virginia supported more than 600 users and featured systems from Dell, EMC, and IBM. They needed a consolidation plan and they needed it quickly, so they selected Oracle partner AvcomEast to help them implement Sun Storage 7000 Systems to reduce costs and provide a simplified and efficient data storage and management solution.
AvcomEast was a natural choice for the project because of its expertise as a full service IT solution provider focused on data center infrastructure solutions. Malachi McCabe, IT Manager, Signature Styles says, “They’re not just interested in selling us the latest product, they want to provide us with what we need to be successful. It’s truly a collaborative partnership.”
Wayne Diehl, AvcomEast Sales Representative, says, “We did a lot of legwork assessing Signature Styles’ current environment, and I suggested the Sun Storage 7000.” By centralizing all storage onto the Sun Storage 7000, Signature Styles’ storage became accessible to all applications and it provided economy-of-scale that can be easily leveraged across different servers and applications—all through a single storage platform.
The Sun Storage 7000 has significant software functionality built into it, so customers like Signature Styles’ can take advantage of the functionality without having to pay incremental costs for additional software titles. Diehl explains. “Signature Styles uses a lot of that functionality, like data compression, data deduplication, snapshots, and data replication. With competitive offerings, you pay for these things individually.”
McCabe says, “We were locked into thinking that storage had to conform to traditional systems. Our discussion with Wayne and the realization of what the Sun Storage 7000 System could do—it changed the way we thought about storage altogether.”
The first phase of the project was implemented in January 2010. AvcomEast and Signature Styles worked together to migrate 17TB of data to the Sun Storage 7310 System in just two days. In April 2010, a Sun Storage 7410 System was installed in Virginia to consolidate approximately 6TB of data. The whole process went smoothly, and Signature Styles began reaping the expected performance benefits, along with some unexpected benefits, almost immediately.
“Signature Styles had a lot of archival data that they had stored on tape,” says Diehl. “If one of the users needed an image off the tape, IT would have to find the tape, load it in the system, then restore it to the user, a process that might take days. The Sun Storage System has a compression feature that allowed IT to dramatically contract the amount of storage that these images took up, so there was enough room to load all of the data from the tapes directly into the S-7000, making it directly available almost instantaneously .”
McCabe adds, “In the past, we had to constantly move these large files to tape to avoid bogging down the system. By leveraging the compression and de-duplication technologies, we can keep the files accessible on the system at all times.”
Initially, AvcomEast estimated that Signature Styles could achieve a 13-month payback period by implementing the Sun Storage 7000 Systems. McCabe says, “Our priority was to have a storage solution that did everything our current system did—but for less cost. The additional benefits we gained in the process were an unexpected bonus.” The company used to have to purchase a new array every 14-16 months, which caused downtime and increasing IT expenses. With their Sun Storage 7000, Signature Styles has plenty of room for growth and they can easily add capacity without disrupting business operations. With the reduction in the number of data center servers and related energy costs, McCabe reports that the company expects to realize a ROI of approximately $90,000 by the end of 2010.
“Signature Styles was receptive to hearing about something new with the Sun Storage System 7000,” says Diehl.” “They had the foresight to recognize the benefits of the product and to move forward with implementing it. Signature Styles is not the only company out there with a lot of disparate silos of storage that aren’t working together. Consolidation can provide hard-dollar returns in a very short period of time, and our work with Signature Styles is great example that we are definitely using as a benchmark for all of our customers.”