Planview Information Technology Group Virtually Reinvents Itself and the Business - Page 2

By Jerry Sanchez | Posted Jan 27, 2010
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Vision: One Infrastructure
In order to quickly build a highly reliable SaaS hosting capability while still supporting the day-to-day operation of internal Planview users, the IT team decided it needed one infrastructure to be the foundation of its strategic vision. This became their set of three over-arching criteria:

1. HIGHLY FLEXIBLE
Planview IT needed to be able to support multiple internal and external customers and meet their requirements for rapid deployment. It also needed the ability to scale locally and globally. Thus, a highly flexible infrastructure was essential.

2. PRODUCTION READY
Each IT constituent had varying production needs. Product Development's needs were dynamic. Sales needed a demo enviroment that showed the high performance and stability of the Planview solution. The SaaS business and customers' demand for a hosted Planview environment was accelerating.

3. COST EFFECTIVE
Determined to craft a solution with the lowest possible TCO, Sanchez and his team felt they could realize cost savings through consolidation and the use of readily available staff and skills.

A New Approach
With success criteria in hand, Sanchez and his team took a deliberative approach researching how to bring this vision into reality. Their goal was to build one easy-to-manage platform that would serve all their needs. They started from scratch. They questioned if there was any existing hardware purchased over the last five years that was capable of doing what they needed and worth incorporating into the new infrastructure design. The answer? No. They needed to build a storage infrastructure from the ground up.

The Pieces
He needed to pick best-of-breed storage products and protocols and determine the physical datacenter location and ideal network topography, and chose Datalink, an information storage architect firm. Together, they aligned requirements and solutions and evaluated vendors in the areas of performance, storage effciency, redundancy, and backup and recovery.
                                                                                                                                                              The fit with Datalink was excellent. The company had an alliance with NetApp, which provides storage, delivery, and management of network data and content, and is the industry leader in providing solutions leveraging the Network File System (NFS) protocol, which enables users on client computers to access files over a network in a manner similar to how local storage is accessed, using the Open Network Computing Remote Procedure Call (ONC RPC) system.

When NFS was suggested to him, Sanchez was surprised, as he had been considering either the newer Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) or Fibre Channel protocols as his primary options. However, his prime concern was that the storage networking protocol he selected be enterprise-ready for customer-facing solutions; after more research and in consultation with Datalink, he realized that a NFS and NetApp infrastructure was the ideal choice as this combination mapped to the three criteria of the strategic vision:

1. IT IS HIGHLY FLEXIBLE
Provisioning is easy with this solution. The ability to resize volumes on the go was key and the team is able to simply refresh the datastore after changes. Thin-provisioning makes in-flight disk requirement decisions simple.

2. IT IS PRODUCTION READY
NFS is a highly stable protocol that has been used for 25 years and NetApp is the industry leader in providing NFS solutions. NetApp architected a modular structure with maximum flexibility and scalability. Included was Network-Attached Storage, which uses NFS file-based protocols to offer data storage on a computer that is accessed by heterogeneous clients attached to the network. It compares in performance to a Storage Area Network, a must given that Planview ensures its clients a 99.98% Service Level Agreement availability guarantee. Another benefit of the NetApp offerings is its Snapshot technology which enables Planview IT to create copies of file systems, which it can use to revert back to any environment at any point in time and for full recovery.

3. IT IS COST EFFECTIVE                                                                                                                                 This combination offers a small physical footprint, an Ethernet-only infrastructure, and low administrative overhead, without sacrificing quality or customer requirements.

After spending four months researching and analyzing possible solutions to determine the most flexible, production-ready, and cost-effective one, it took the Planview IT team one month to install and implement this solution.

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