UK railway workers pension provider RPMI administers vast databases of pension participants and investments, some dating back decades or more. Communication with members is still largely done via more traditional methods and online financial transactions are not yet widely available.
RPMI runs a number of proprietary applications which have been in use for many years. While some of these run on SQL databases, they are quite specific to the pension administration business and were created specifically. Although the current applications are still fit for purpose and function well, they will eventually be upgraded as RPMI believes in the continuous improvement of their performance to provide a competitive edge and greater levels of efficiency. The organisation knew that the best way to find the improvements it is looking for is to add a layer of faster SSD-based storage. However, it was not in a position to completely replace its existing (SAS and SATA- based) storage systems. The applications running on the existing SAN infrastructure also consumed significant staff resources to support the business.
The organisation faced a dilemma. It needed to increase the performance of its legacy applications but a full upgrade of their SAN was not considered feasible since the system had only recently been installed.
RPMI turned to Huawei partner C>Ways for the answer. Huawei and C>Ways worked closely to design and implement a SSD storage system that met all the objectives set. The result was the implementation of two Huawei Dorado 2100 G2 SSD Storage systems, each containing 24 SSD disks with a capacity of 100Gb per disk and an overall capacity of 4.8Tb. One of each Dorado has been installed at the RPMI data centres in Darlington and London.
RPMI also installed a Huawei OceanStor2600T at its remote Disaster Recovery centre, completely replacing the existing SAN. The OceanStor 2600T, which contains 95 per cent SAS and 5 per cent SSD disks, is also virtualised using FalconStor.
Value Foremost, the Dorado has dramatically improved performance of legacy applications, which allowed RPMI to eliminate a night shift and so use the staff on other projects, such as improving overall IT services. RPMI was able to measure and report specific benefits resulting from the upgrade to Dorado. According to Brian Scorer of RPMI: “The move to SSD has been a huge success and has provided us with a range of compelling benefits.” Beyond performance, RPMI and C>Ways have appreciated the comprehensive service offered by Huawei. It was present in all aspects of the implementation and made sure that both the C>Ways and RPMI teams were fully trained on the new technology.
The TCO of the Huawei solution was also clearly superior to any other solutions RPMI considered. While SSD offers great performance improvements, the costs remain high when compared to traditional disk arrays. Therefore, RPMI had to carefully choose a solutions provider that could meet its performance requirements while still delivering a very cost-effective solution.