Data centre monitoring proves a business winner

Data centre monitoring proves a business winner

Tatts Group has reduced data centre costs through smarter monitoring and reporting capabilities, writes Hamish Barwick

Making reports `sexy’

Maw and Tatts Group data centre manager, Jo Baxter, are required to provide a report to management each month about the uptime and reliability of the data centres.

“The software allows us to make these reports `sexy’ because we can produce graphs and images that have some interest,” he said.

“We can provide easy to consume, simple reports that people can look at, so they feel comfortable that we have it under control and they don’t need to worry.”

The reports also make it easier for management to understand power utilisation levels, energy consumption and how much the data centres are costing.

In addition, Maw has used the software’s heat mapping and air flow diagrams to identify problems that could be producing a big power bill.

“We can start to find some of these high impact areas that may not have good air flows. We fix one vent, and suddenly we’ve reduced our power bill,” he said.

“When you’re running big data centres, small gains still mean big numbers.”

Becoming greener is driving efficiencies, cost reductions and helping the bottom line.

“Although we have a very large turnover, we have relatively small margins. Anything that we can do to assist with that cost line does make a big difference,” Maw said.

If something goes wrong in one of the data centres, the software delivers live alerts to people’s computers and smartphones. It can tell the IT department if it is an infrastructure or power problem. According to Baxter, the project ran smoothly due to Schneider Electric data centre engineers being onsite.

“They [engineers] came in and helped us at different stages of the project. The support continues now, and I speak with them on a regular basis,” she said. “They provide us with updates on what is new with the software and what other capabilities the tool has that we should be utilising.”

The vendor also provides Tatts Group with consulting and professional services.

Building the future

Tatts Group’s next challenge is working on the future location of its data centres. Because one of the organisation’s primary data centres is in a building that has been scheduled for sale, it needs to find another data centre site over the next two years.

Maw said shutting its data centres and moving information into a private cloud is not an option of the organisation because of the sheer amount of data is handles.

However, it is considering a disaster recovery site located elsewhere in Australia or overseas. This is because both of its data centres run at the same time and are active-active, as Maw puts it.

“High volume transaction processing doesn’t like long latency between locations so that means we need to run both data centres within 30 kilometres of each other,” he said.

The data centre project is part of a strategic IT transformation that began in 2009.

In 2012, Tatts Group upgraded its storage system to reduce network outages. Since that time, its storage area network (SAN) environment has run at 100 per cent uptime, according to Maw.

Over the past two years, it has gone from 20 per cent virtualization of server hardware to 80 per cent virtualization. This is designed to reduce IT spend and improve server utilisation.

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