Growth spurt

By Anne Chen  |  Posted 09-05-2005 Print Email

With the success of customer analytics, however, came another explosion in data growth. In 2004, Geiver and Erkonen estimated that the data warehouse would grow at a rate of about 12GB a day; today, the warehouse is growing at a rate of 18GB per day.

To handle the backup and storage management of all this data, Premier Bankcard decided to use Veritas CommandCentral from Symantec Corp. Erkonen said CommandCentral has enabled the automation of many manual functions, including capacity utilization and trending, and has also provided alerting capabilities. CommandCentral has been deployed to 70 percent of the company's SAN-based systems and will be deployed to the remaining systems by next month.

Looking ahead, Premier Bankcard is evaluating several technologies to make operations even more efficient, including HSM (hierarchical storage management) and ILM (information lifecycle management), as well as disk-based backup.

Geiver and Erkonen also are applying lessons learned from their success with SANs on the analytics side to their production networks. They're combining two SAN fabrics at the company's primary location in Sioux Falls using Brocade Silkworm Director from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. By using Director instead of a mesh design with multiple smaller switches, Geiver and Erkonen estimate that costs can be driven down by 20 percent per port.

As part of this SAN consolidation, Geiver and Erkonen are also considering replacing four EMA storage arrays with one EVA 8000 storage array, a move that will save the company an estimated $850,000 in maintenance and support, Erkonen said. At the same time, the EVA storage array at Premier Bankcard's backup site in Watertown, S.D., will be expanded by 125TB of capacity.

Premier Bankcard is also exploring options for messaging storage. The company is currently using Novell Inc.'s GroupWise; Geiver and Erkonen are considering a move to Microsoft's Exchange 2003, which would enable them to replicate the Exchange environment to the Watertown backup data center. Such a move would provide high availability, using either HSM or ILM technologies to ensure that the system is being archived in a manageable way.

"We have been working with our compliance group to determine retention requirements, and what we have determined will be the best course of action is to put user size and time limitations into place while providing our users a better file share methodology for document retention," Geiver said. "We will utilize policy-based systems to ensure the messaging system remains manageable and to decrease our file share backup sizes through the use of HSM technologies."

One of the most challenging storage projects that Geiver and Erkonen are working on is finding the right encryption technologies for their environment. In an industry plagued by consumer privacy concerns and stolen data, the two are constantly searching for ways to ensure that data remains safe.

As a credit card institution, the company is held to industry data security standards that require—at minimum—account numbers to be encrypted on disk. Rather than relying on host-based encryption or selective database encryption that would incur high overhead, Premier Bankcard is planning to address encryption in the storage fabric itself. Geiver and Erkonen hope to develop an encryption strategy within the next six months to a year.

"Identity theft has brought an awareness to many businesses that you really have a responsibility to take care of your assets and that the business has to change with the environment if you want to continue being successful," Geiver said. "There shouldn't even have to be a law—it's just common sense. We're ahead of the curve here. We realize this is where the industry needs to move."


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