Bank Gives TagmaStore Thumbs Up
By Lynn Haber

When Pacific Capital Bancorp looked ahead, it banked its competitive future on a new SAN architecture to serve its network of community banks. The financial institution came up a winner.

A new storage design and implementation architecture that began as a study almost three years ago is scheduled for completion next month. Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Pacific Capital Bancorp chose Hitachi Data Systems’ high-end TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform to grow its business.

For many years, PCB, a 50 year-old holding company with $6.2 billion in assets, would throw more disk at its systems when it thought it needed storage rather than manage it.

“We really didn’t know how much storage we had or the cost of that storage,” says Al Todd, senior vice president of IT. That strategy had to change as the holding company to five major banks put in place a five to ten year business growth plan that was customer-centric.

“We were always customer-focused, but we renewed our customer-centric emphasis with the implementation of a new CRM system, as these products were now more viable, affordable and robust, but we knew that the data had to go somewhere,” says Todd.

The need for increased data storage was just one of the many criteria PCB had as it considered a new storage architecture.

Determining Needs

Realizing that the company needed a strategy to move ahead with its plans, PCB brought in SunGard to evaluate its business continuity needs. What the bank’s decision makers learned was that it needed real-time replication of critical applications. While disaster recovery and business continuity was something that the company had been doing for many years, the number of critical applications was growing, and keeping the status quo wasn’t going to get the bank where it needed to go.

“What we learned was that we had more critical applications than we thought, and we couldn’t get all of them restored quickly if the need arose,” says Todd.

Seamless, real-time replication of data to remote sites was a second key criteria for the new storage architecture. Other criteria included:

  • 99.999% uptime;
  • reduction in overall storage costs;
  • single data management capability;
  • on-demand scalability;
  • security and data integrity, and
  • inexpensive archival storage.

With a clear understanding of what PCB required for a storage architecture, the company spent nine more months figuring out how much storage it had at the time, how much it used, and what it needed looking ahead.

According to Todd, PCB had server-attached storage on more than 200 servers, including an IBM mainframe. The mostly Dell servers were configured with 200GB of storage each. The company also had more than 1,200 PCs, all of which had their own storage. PCB has four administrative offices and about 42 branch offices throughout California.

“When all was said and done, we learned that we had 23 terabytes of storage, 50 percent of which was dark storage, or unused,” says Todd.

With the help of a consulting SAN architect, PCB devised storage architecture initially configured with 23TB of storage that included room for growth. The SAN consultant also helped the company with vendor selection.

Picking a Partner

Over a four-month period, PCB and the consultant reviewed vendor options and came up with a short list of four key players: IBM, EMC, Hitachi, and a combination of vendors that included IBM and Cisco. “There were other vendors in the marketplace, but they couldn’t meet our initial selection criteria,” says Todd.

In the end, PCB picked Hitachi Data Systems as its storage vendor. According to Todd, not only could Hitachi meet all of the bank’s system requirements, but the vendor added services that enabled PCB to align the storage architecture to its business and IT. On a local level, PCB worked with Consiliant Technologies LLC, a Hitachi reseller.

“One of the best things we did in this process … was talk to our business people about how they use data.”

— Al Todd, Pacific Capital Bancorp

“One of the best things we did in this process, with the help of Consiliant, and something we never did before, was talk to our business people about how they use data,” says Todd, noting that what came out of those discussions was a strategy for tiered storage.

“Hitachi had the technology, partners, tools and best practices to do the job,” says Todd.

The bank got its SAN architecture project off the ground in 2004, beginning with vendor selection. Then came the first implementation step, which was to put together an in-house SAN team that would ultimately work on its own when the project was up and running. The company’s infrastructure support team consists of four dedicated IT personnel and about a dozen more people who worked on the project intermittently. A professional project manager from Consiliant oversaw the project and provided focus.

“There were dozens of consultants helping us out, keeping the big strategy in mind,” says Todd.

The SAN rollout first addressed the system fabric, then the switches, and lastly, the implementation of the SAN arrays. Testing followed. Finishing up last month, the storage team piloted nine applications for a period of five months.

The next phase was to move 15 prime, high-value, data-intensive applications to the SAN, which generally include all core banking applications and the data warehouse. The final phase was to move the SAN 300 miles away to Solinas for disaster recovery and real-time replication. Over time, the bank will move another 40 to 50 or more applications onto the SAN.

A Win for All

One of the biggest challenges for PCB was to sell the idea of a SAN solution to the bank’s internal customers, who, according to Todd, were very protective of their data. “Basically, we took management of the data away from them,” he says. “We had to prove to these internal customers that we would not lose response time or data.”

The SAN solution that won over the bank’s internal customers was two TagmaStore USP600 with 20TB of storage each; four 9585V each with 10TB of Fibre Channel drives and 10TB of SATA drives. Each USP600 has two 9585V connected to it as external storage and TrueCopy is executing between the two USP600s. SBC also installed Hitachi High Command software, a single platform management solution.

At an estimated $5-$10 million, it wasn’t cheap, but Todd said the solution and rollout has met all of PCB’s storage criteria, and he was able to prove to the company’s internal customers that the SAN was a win all around.

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