Talk Talk goes store store

Storage requirements shot up a hundred fold or more and virtualised utility storage from 3PAR was wheeled in.


Overwhelmed by growth

It's no secret that the implementation of Talk Talk has - and is - problematical and Carphone Warehouse's IT infrastructure has to play its part in helping the company to be more efficient and effective.

Over the past three years, Carphone Warehouse - which employs over 12,000 people - experienced exceptional growth thanks to dramatic increases in its customer base, portfolio additions such as landline phone services provider TalkTalk and acquisitions such as AOL UK. It's also doing things with GSM. As a result, online storage requirements leapt from a single terabyte to several hundreds and its existing storage infrastructures couldn't cope. Some of the symptoms were: unacceptably low utilisation rates for existing server and storage resources; and slow time-to-market for new initiatives.

Storage was over-provisioned to applications which meant empty disk platters were spinning and just wasting energy, both electrical and management in administering the complex storage environment.

Claus Egge, IDC's European Program Director for storage research, has a view on this: "It is becoming increasingly important for IT departments to deploy just the right amount of capacity over time and provision capacity according to the exact needs of the business. Solutions such as the 3PAR array family show an engineering commitment to giving such functions high priority."

LogoCarphone Warehouse is Europe's front rank, independent retailer of mobile phones and services with 700 stores in the UK and 1,300 in continental Europe. It has deployed two 3PAR InServ S400 Storage Servers.

Helped by IT consultancy Computacenter Services, Carphone Warehouse settled on 3PAR for storage in its new virtual data centre. It did so to increase utilisation rates, improve performance, simplify storage management. Ultimately the goal is to accelerate the time to market for new applications.

Virtuality becomes virtuous

Working with Computacenter Services, Carphone Warehouse decided to move away from a physical datacentre and go virtual, moving to a different style of both storage and computing: a virtualised datacentre environment based on storage virtualisation through 3PAR Utility Storage; and virtualised servers running VMWare ESX.

That side of the virtualisation decision meant moving to cost-effective Linux servers and IBM System p5 servers with Advanced Power Virtualisation and Virtual I/O.

The move to 3PAR storage meant Carphone Warehouse’s virtual data centre was able to:

- Eradicate downtime associated with performing data warehouse Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) procedures in its Informatica/Oracle environment and without the need for additional storage capacity;
- Increase utilisation rates via storage consolidation for both Disaster Recovery (DR) and Test and Development onto a single, massively scalable system;
- Accelerate deployment of new applications with 3PAR Virtual Copy, built on Thin Copy technology, which eliminates the days required to provide or refresh data test images;
- Increase productivity through non-disruptive data migrations with 3PAR Dynamic Optimisation;
- Dramatically reduce the time required to provision storage - from days to just seconds - with 3PAR Rapid Provisioning;
- Eliminate the complexity and required expertise to implement and maintain DR thanks to 3PAR's Thin Copy-based, remote mirroring technology called 3PAR Remote Copy.

Gaining efficiency

Steven Gall, enterprise architect at Carphone Warehouse, said: "With 3PAR, we have demonstrated a 50 percent reduction in storage TCO (total cost of ownership) while significantly increasing overall service levels."

He added: "With 3PAR, we can do so much more than we anticipated.”

"3PAR Utility Storage was the ideal answer to the Carphone Warehouse’s need for better efficiency, increased scalability and ease of use," said Terry Walby, Datacentre Solutions Director, at Computacenter Services. "Managing unpredictable growth in demand with adequate and cost-effective levels of server and storage provisioning is a great challenge for many of our customers for whom Computacenter Services is able to offer a range of innovative and flexible utility infrastructure solutions. With 3PAR technology we were able to offer the Carphone Warehouse a unique combination of flexibility, affordability and scalability which not only met their current needs but also provided a platform for growth."

David Scott, 3PAR's president and CEO, said: "Utility Storage is a proven solution for organisations with data intensive storage needs. Whether from the retail, internet, telecom, or financial markets, companies all need to become more competitive. 3PAR gives them the ability to streamline their storage environment and reduce costs dramatically.”

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