Oxford University steps up data protection safeguards

Oxford University has started using storage management software as part of a move to a SAN (storage area network) approach in two of its departments.

Some 350 staff and students in the Uni's Mediaeval and Modern Languages and Linguistics faculties now have their data protected by a 12-bay Fibrenetix RAID solution, populated with six 500GB Hitachi SATA hard disk drives. That equals three terabytes of raw data formatted in a RAID 6 configuration.

The solution replaces a manual approach where the two faculties' IT support team had to back up directly-attached multiple servers to a central node. By contrast, the current topology means all file storage gets put straight on to the RAID resource, while the spare capacity (the extra bays on the Storage Area Network) offers future-proof against future demand.

"Our servers and direct-attach storage infrastructure were dated, and we wanted to deploy a cost-effective, network-based data protection solution that would work with our Novell and Linux servers," said Jon Edwards, an IT officer at Oxford.

The company behind the installation is Bristol-based StorMagic, a recent start up: its eponymous iSCSI software manages the configuration. The firm, which targets smaller companies (SMEs) via the channel, has a management team with experience at a range of storage firms including Seagate and Exabyte. The chief executive and founder, Hans O'Sullivan, for instance, launched two other such outfits, Eurologic and Elipsan (both now part of Adaptec).

Through the StorMagic system, storage volumes are consolidated into a single pool to simplify capacity management and allocation. The software enables users to monitor and balance physical storage resources to ensure maximum utilisation rates, said Edwards.