Dell Compellent SAN to the Rescue: Tidewater Case Study


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A massive storm threatening to flood Tidewater’s company headquarters in Louisiana and disrupt operations at 12 other sites around the world provided the impetus for a complete disaster recovery overhaul.

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Dell Compellent SAN to the Rescue: Tidewater Case Study

  1. 1. Dell Compellent SAN Customer profilerescues Tidewater froma perfect storm Company Tidewater Industry Energy (Oil, Gas, Petrochemical, Renewable) Country United States Employees 7,500 Web site Challenge A massive storm threatening to flood Tidewater’s company headquarters in Louisiana and disrupt operations at 12 other sites around the world provided the impetus for a complete disaster recovery overhaul. Solution Distributed between two sites, Tidewater’s revamped data center is based on a dual-controller Dell™ Compellent Storage Center SAN, part of the Dell Fluid Data™ architecture. Benefits • Vital disaster recovery at the flick of a switch • Rapid recovery—no service disruption • Improved regulatory compliance“I couldn’t design a system like this with any Application areas other manufacturer at this price, even with • Intelligent Data Management • Server Consolidation significant discounts. Dell Compellent offers • Services a solution that gives you more bang for • Virtualization the buck.”John Chaffe,Director of Information Technology, Tidewater Inc.
  2. 2. As Hurricane Katrina stormed its way toward New Orleans, team members at Tidewater Inc. knew they had to act quickly. For more than 50 years, Tidewater has been carefully watching the weather while providing vital maritime support to the world’s vast offshore oilfield operations. The company’s fleet of vessels and dedicated staff transports crews and supplies, tows and anchors mobile rigs, assists in offshore construction projects and performs a variety of specialized marine support services. With a rare Category 5 storm bearing to evacuate. And just when Chaffe was down on company headquarters in beginning to think about taking the “We need a Louisiana, John Chaffe, director of data center back to New Orleans, information technology, realized the Hurricane Rita threatened not only system that is potential for flooding at the central IT Louisiana but Texas, too. Once again, easy to manage site, and the disruption that would cause Chaffe dismantled the system and this to operations at 12 other sites around time flew it to Mobile, Alabama, to wait and provides the world. The existing IT disaster plan out the storm. He eventually flew back was not going to be enough to protect to Houston to redeploy the system— risk mitigation data and systems in a city that would and redesign the company’s IT and options that help soon be underwater. storage strategy. eliminate the Chaffe went above and beyond the call of duty to protect vital hardware and Technology at work possibility of long- data from total devastation. “The network Services term downtime. supervisor and I dismantled the main Dell™ Compellent Copilot servers and direct-attached storage disks, Dell Compellent loaded them into the back of our SUVs, Support and set off for the Houston office,” he functionality explains. “He headed west and I headed Hardware provides that.” north, both of us crawling along in the Dell Compellent Storage gridlocked traffic of evacuees.” The Center SAN John Chaffe, 300-mile journey took Chaffe more than Director of Information 24 hours. This was the beginning of an Software Technology, Tidewater Inc. odyssey that kept him away from home Blackberry Enterprise for more than six weeks and ultimately led to the design of a new data center Citrix and disaster recovery plan based on Microsoft® SQL Server® Dell Compellent technology. NetWare Server Once in Texas, Chaffe and his team Novell GroupWise worked quickly to bring back up the Novell NetWare central server system that hosts email— a vital management tool for ship-to- VMware® GSX Server shore deliveries. It took several hours, VMware vSphere™ 4.1 many trips to local computer stores for Windows Server® supplies, and a new portable equipment cooling fan before it was up and Xerox DocuShare running—54 hours after the decision2
  3. 3. Replication and virtualization drive data SAN with dual-port cards and a singlecenter redesign controller lower-cost drive environmentWith increasing pressures from at the replicated site. The system usesregulatory compliance and now facing iSCSI connectivity for replication anda complete disaster recovery overhaul, Fibre Channel for its main applications,the Tidewater IT steering committee taking advantage of the flexibilityasked Chaffe to investigate options for provided by Dell Compellent. Chaffedata replication. After looking at several uses automated tiered storage tosystems, including independent off-site create a two-tier storage environmentvaulting, Chaffe decided that switching in the main data center using high-to a SAN with asynchronous replication performance and high-capacity,at a remote site and a virtualized lower cost drives.environment would help create a new,more reliable data center. In addition, Tidewater purchased 20 new servers to create a homogenousA heterogeneous server environment environment—10 for the main officehad already been causing backup in New Orleans and 10 for the remoteand resource utilization issues forTidewater, especially as the company site in Dallas. With spare servers in place, Chaffe can easily test new “We have designedgrew worldwide, and email—a patches and upgrades before putting a system thatkey communication tool for ships them into production, avoidingunreachable by more traditional means— unplanned downtime and satisfying allows us to flipwas increasing exponentially. “Fixingserver issues was a lengthy process, and compliance regulations. a switch to keeptesting upgrades or software patches Furthermore, provisioning or failover operations upprior to going live sometimes meant an can be accomplished quickly andinterruption in service,” Chaffe says. “If with minimal disruption. “With Dell and running foremail is not available and we cannotcommunicate with our vessels, we could Compellent, I have everything booting from the SAN, which is now fully as long as weend up losing thousands if not tens of replicated to the Dallas site,” Chaffe need, no matterthousands of dollars an hour—and put explains. “All the servers are identical,lives at risk.” so if I have a server failure, I can what the issueAlthough Chaffe was already certified on reprogram the spare server to boot as the replacement in a matter of minutes.” may be, thanks toa competing vendor’s storage products, And in situations where a server fails, Dell Compellent.”he liked both the flexibility of the Dell Chaffe uses Dell Compellent’s snapshotCompellent Storage Center SAN and the capability to restore data quickly and John Chaffe,system’s highly competitive pricing. “We easily—an impossible task with the Director of Informationneed a system that is easy to manage previous system. Technology, Tidewater Inc.and provides risk mitigation optionsthat help eliminate the possibility of Optimizing storage forlong-term downtime,” Chaffe says. “Dell mission-critical e-mailCompellent functionality provides that. Since the company’s Novell GroupWiseWhat’s more, I couldn’t design a system email application is the biggestlike this with any other manufacturer bandwidth consumer and absolutelyat this price, even with significant critical to operations, Tidewater usesdiscounts. Dell Compellent offers a the Dell Compellent de-duplicationsolution that gives you more bang for functionality for bandwidth optimization.the buck.” Now Chaffe is able to failover to the Dallas site without noticeable latencyFlexibility helps expand IT capabilities while taking advantage of less-expensiveChaffe designed the new data center iSCSI technology.using a dual-controller Dell Compellent3
  4. 4. Virtualized storage also provides additional support, Chaffe uses DellChaffe with increased flexibility and Compellent Copilot Support to helpreduced costs. Two of the servers use monitor system performance and actVMware and run a variety of servers as a virtual extension of his IT team.that previously ran separate emailapplications, including Novell, Blackberry Dell Compellent Copilot Support, Delland antivirus software. After comparing Compellent’s comprehensive customerseveral virtualized storage technologies, service and technical support center,Chaffe preferred the abstraction model provides exceptional system supportused by Dell Compellent to virtualize through online incident tracking andvolumes. “The nonvirtualized nature of automated event notification. For Dellmany other storage aggregators means Compellent customers, this meansyou have to get extremely detailed and that in the event of a drive failure orbe quite an expert,” Chaffe says. “With other system threat, Copilot Supportthe Dell Compellent SAN, I can easily alerts system administrators andtrain someone in a day or less to get the provides valuable insight to the leveljob done.” of emergency and potential solutions. Copilot Support offers the team at Disaster recovery from anywhere Tidewater peace of mind in the With Dell Compellent, Chaffe can event that any problem—forecast or manage the SAN from anywhere in not—arises. the world. “We have a small IT staff to support global operations,” Chaffe says. In recent developments,the IT team has“I travel around the world—Brazil, Africa, performed an almost complete system Singapore, Cairo, Indonesia, Australia— upgrade from Series 20 to Series 40 on a regular basis. As long as I have an controllers without experiencing any Internet connection, I can reach the SAN downtime. In addition, the servers have and allocate or fix whatever is required. now been completely virtualized with After Katrina, when we were still using VMware vSphere 4.1, also with zero the old system, a server went down downtime. The server population has and I had to convince three national expanded from 20 to 35 servers, and guardsman holding M-16 rifles to let the team has added both Hyperion me into downtown New Orleans at 4 and Oracle Peoplesoft to the mix with a.m. to reboot the server. Now I have an the only changes to the SAN being the engineer in Singapore who can manage addition of more drive spindles. the system from there, so we have 24x7 coverage and no one has to leave home.” “In disaster planning, everyone has a specific risk to address,” Chaffe says.With fast replication and the ability to “On the West Coast, it’s earthquakes.rapidly create and assign LUNs, Dell In the Midwest, it’s power outages orCompellent has reduced the time Chaffe tornadoes. Our problem is hurricanes.spends managing the system to minutes We have designed a system that allowsa day. “We’re doing a lot more than we us to flip a switch to keep operationsused to,” Chaffe explains. “But it’s only up and running for as long as wetaking minutes to manage. Plus, we need, no matter what the issue maycan do it without additional headcount be, thanks to Dell Compellent.”and still effectively mitigate risk.” AsView all Dell case studies at Availability and terms of Dell Services vary by region. For more information, visit © December 2011. Microsoft Sequel Server and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. This case study is for informational purposes only. Dell makes no warranties - express or implied - in this case study. Reference number 10009826