Infrastructure Optimisation Services

Through our Infrastructure Optimisation Services we review an organisation’s existing IT and design and implement an efficient and effective infrastructure that aligns with its business requirements. Using our in-depth understanding of existing and emerging technologies and 20+ years’ experience in infrastructure optimisation, we help organisations make the most of their existing capabilities and licences and introduce new technologies where they will add value.

Our services cover all aspects of data access, data management, availability and recovery and include:

  • a review of the existing solution
  • recommendations and design of improvements
  • implementation of improvements using best practice standards
  • infrastructure support.

SAN requirements review – if an organisation has no SAN, we review current servers to assess whether SAN technology would be beneficial and, if so, recommend how best to implement it and which vendor technologies would deliver the organisation’s requirements. For organisations with an existing SAN, we review environment and performance and recommend how best to upgrade or replace to meet future requirements. If a number of existing technologies exist, we will recommend the best way to utilise all the systems and control them from a single interface. We will also make recommendations on how to migrate data from an existing SAN to newer technology. We are familiar with most vendor products and capabilities and are happy to incorporate these into a review or design.

The DELL Compellent SAN has the ability to read data directly from other vendors at the block level, which makes a migration 50 – 75% quicker and with significantly less risk than using copy and ACL moving apps.

SAN switches – SANs usually incorporate an FC switch, but SAN architectures can also be designed around iSCSI using standard network switches. Fordway has extensive expertise in both areas and with the mixing of FC/iSCSI on the same fabric (FC for Primary and iSCSI for failover).

Data mining/classification – we are experienced in analysing unstructured data using tools that do not require agents to be installed on each server. This information can be used to develop the future storage strategy and to assist in archiving/de-duplication requirements or ILM.

Server/NAS consolidation

  • Server requirements review – we review the servers within an organisation for efficient running and make recommendations on how to improve performance and tuning across Windows NT4, 2000, 2003 and 2008, OES/Netware and Linux/Unix. This may also include virtualisation of physical devices onto virtual hardware or blade servers or reducing the server farm footprint using methods such as NAS and gateways.
  • Virtualisation review – we review the servers currently in a server farm and, using VMware authorised tools, produce a report detailing the requirements for a virtualised set of servers to perform those tasks.
  • Servers/NAS – we work with a number of technologies that help reduce the server footprint within a data centre. These include the VMware virtualisation tool that allows physical servers to be installed onto significantly fewer virtual servers; NAS, gateways and filers, such as the OnStor filers that allow virtualisation of file servers into a much reduced number; Compellent gateways; and Windows Storage Server.
  • Clustering – we have many years’ experience in configuring a clustered environment, which allows multiple servers to perform one or more roles with resilience against a single point of failure in one of the servers. This can be achieved in different ways: n + 1 where one server sits idle (typically Microsoft), or where all clusters share the load and if a server fails the application is passed to another (VMware, OES/Novell, Linux).

Enterprise back-up and restore – backups have grown up from single server products to huge tape libraries that can cope with many terabytes of data. Unstructured data (typically files and email) are the biggest areas of growth for most organisations. The average space required to store a page of information is continually increasing and growing faster than the growth in disk space. We work with organisations to assess and implement the most appropriate solution for their business, taking into account archiving, single instancing, deduplication, compliance, disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity.

Data back-up review and implementation – we review existing backup configurations and assist in improving performance for either extra capacity or reduction of the backup window. This could range from a change in technology or change in backup regime to identifying bottlenecks outside the actual backup system or a review of remote site capabilities. We may also recommend tools that allow consolidation of backups onto reduced systems and take account of replication and archiving technologies, with or without the requirements of SAN/NAS technologies. This can also be incorporated into a DR installation.

Archiving/de-duplication – we advise on appropriate solutions, and recommend that all areas of unstructured data need to be considered as this is typically where the growth is. Significant savings can be achieved by an appropriate solution.

Virtual tape library – this disk-based solution can be a quick solution to backup problems provided they are scoped correctly.

Disaster recovery – Fordway is a member of the Business Continuity Institute and our staff are ITIL qualified (v2 & 3). We have extensive experience in providing business continuity and disaster recovery services.

  • Disaster recovery requirements – our experienced team assists organisations with all aspects of DR. We can review existing DR solutions for performance and practicality, write or assist in writing the IT segment of an organisation’s DR documents, host different levels of DR requirements in our own DR centre, test plans from an active or passive standpoint and assist in getting IT services up and running after a disaster.
  • Data replication – we can ensure that critical information has been copied to another location and that the copy at that location is complete, using products such as Compellent Enterprise Manager, VMware Site Recovery Manager and Compellent’s Continuous Data Replication (CDR).
  • Physical to virtual synchronisation – we use products such as Platespin and Doubletake that allow many servers to be replicated to one, or use virtualisation as a way of storing replicas of production servers that can be bought up within minutes in case of failures.

Enterprise management – Fordway’s enterprise management service helps organisations review, design and implement IT measurement, monitoring, alerting and reporting across their IT infrastructure. We begin by reviewing the existing infrastructure and business requirements, including business drivers, critical objects, KPIs and SLAs, before recommending improvements. We then design and implement a solution aligned to best practices, and can also provide solution support and automatic call home facilities to Fordway if required.

Service desk – we design, supply and implement a large to mid-sized enterprise level Service Desk using the industry leading solution, HP Service Manager, which uses ITIL principles to provide an integrated solution across most ITSM processes. The software helps organisations manage services by taking a lifecycle approach to IT service management, offering consistent improvement built right into the IT governance model. ITIL v3 best practices are consolidated as a set of guidelines and configuration parameters and provided out of the box. It has highly scalable service-oriented architecture and bidirectional application interfaces that let organisations deploy consistent, integrated processes. Alternatively we design, supply and implement a small to mid-sized Service Desk using Richmond Support Desk, which is designed for ease of implementation and has wide ranging reporting capabilities to provide accurate and specific management information to enable continuous service improvement.

Availability and performance services – we design, supply and implement two server and application management solutions (HP Operations and Microsoft Operation Manager), a number of complementary network management solutions, and can implement an enterprise alert platform to notify key personnel of infrastructure alarms from any deployed monitoring tool.

Asset management – we help IT departments evaluate their asset management practices and deliver a predictable and valued level of service, using either Microsoft System Centre Configuration Manager or HP Asset Centre.

System auditing – we have extensive expertise in auditing a company’s hardware and applications, either using the tools listed above or more audit specific tools such as iInventory which enables non-intrusive auditing of computers and works with Windows, Mac and Linux.

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