"The performance of the ETERNUS DX storage systems is as impressive as its price. The low energy consumption of these systems has surpassed our expectations"
Gottfried Stegmann, Managing Director, COMback GmbH
COMback GmbH provides highly secure IT services at its CITA (Centre for IT Affairs) data center, which is located in a former nuclear bunker of the Baden Württemberg government in Oberreichenbach (near Stuttgart, Germany). All of the company’s business processes are certified to ISO 27001 “for high and extremely high security requirements” in compliance with the baseline security requirements of the German Federal Office for IT Security (BSI). In addition to a highly secure environment, COMback offers expertise in disaster recovery, business continuity, high security housing and other IT security services. COMback’s clients include government departments, financial services providers, energy suppliers, industrial companies and healthcare providers, all of whom entrust the remote storage of their data to the state-of-the-art hardware in use at the highly secure center, which is located 30 meters below ground behind 5 meter-thick walls.
These exacting requirements meant that the company was very careful in the selection of its storage systems. “Because our clients place such high demands on us, we, as the data center operators, have to place equally high demands on the manufacturers of our IT systems,” explains Gottfried Stegmann, one of the two MDs of COMback GmbH. “The use of SAN virtualization for our storage systems meant that we were looking for hardware that offered both exceptional read and write performance as well as good scalability.” Another important criterion was to find systems that consumed less energy than the systems currently in use.
After thorough testing, the company eventually opted for four Fujitsu ETERNUS DX90 storage systems, which are now fully operational below ground in one of the most highly secure data centers in the world. The systems, each of which boasts a gross storage capacity of 115 terabytes, are arranged in a distributed network across multiple internal data centers. In the next phase, the storage structure was extended with an ETERNUS DX440 for BS2000 mainframe applications.
The roots of the highly secure data center at COMback GmbH date back to the Cold War. At the height of the conflict, a bunker was built 50 kilometers from Stuttgart to offer refuge for 230 members of an emergency Baden Württemberg government in the event of a nuclear attack. The local Baden Württemberg government considered itself particularly at risk because Stuttgart was home to the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, as it still is today. If a full-scale war were to break out, therefore, a nuclear attack was deemed likely. Since 1993, the bunker has had a peaceful use, however. Constructed from 70,000 tons of concrete and steel, the bunker still offers protection from electromagnetic radiation and other possible disasters, such as a plane crash. “A further benefit with regard to its current use as a data center is that it is even immune to electromagnetic weaponry,” Stegmann, who has a degree in information systems, explains. “In this IT age, an attack of this nature would be very dangerous because of the ensuing loss of data.”
The Fujitsu storage systems are therefore located in a unique work center that is divided into various fire zones. “We mirror the data between the systems, bringing our net storage to around 140 terabytes,” Stegmann continues. “We acquired four basic systems to give us room for further capacity expansions.” After all, data center operators have to be able to respond swiftly to new customer requirements, and that usually means increasing storage capacity. Stegmann is unconcerned however: “With the four ETERNUS DX90 systems, we have sufficient scope for expansions in this storage class for the next five years at least.”
The COMback data center, whose existence is betrayed only by an outside aerial and covered passageway, is usually void of human presence. The servers and storage systems are all managed remotely. For the storage systems, this is done using the DataCore solution SANsymphony, which groups all the physical storage systems together in a virtual resource pool.
COMback GmbH had been operating up to five different storage systems of different makes. “Our first task was to replace all of our mid-range legacy systems with the new Fujitsu storage hardware,” Stegmann advises. “This standardization of the two systems has helped us to reduce maintenance requirements. We have also been delighted with the performance of the ETERNUS DX90.” A further benefit of this homogenization and consolidation process for COMback has been the drop in energy consumption.
“The energy savings we have achieved have been significant. We now only use a fraction of the energy we were using before. For one thing, we are using fewer, more efficient disks, and for another, the ETERNUS DX90 systems are more economical. Overall, we have cut our energy consumption for storage by around 75 percent, which has cut our energy costs too. Fujitsu is certain to remain part of our future storage plans.”
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