Giant Air Cargo Terminal Operator Simplifies and Virtualizes Data Storage Network
One of the world’s leading air cargo terminal operators, Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals (Hactl), has deployed next-generation Brocade® Fibre Channel storage networking switching solutions to support enhanced 24x7x365 data center operations over the next five years. The Brocade DCX® 8510 Backbones — implemented by Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) partner Hitachi Data Systems — have enabled Hactl to re-architect its storage network, significantly reducing operating costs and provided a robust, high-performance foundation to support more data-intensive applications.
Hactl serves more than 100 airlines at Hong Kong International Airport from SuperTerminal 1, the world’s largest multilevel air cargo terminal, with the capacity to handle up to 3.5 million tonnes of air cargo each year. At the heart of SuperTerminal 1’s operation is COSAC-Plus, a new generation of air cargo management system. The system enables more than 4,000 users from airlines, freight forwarders, and related government departments to monitor and manage air cargo handled by Hactl, typically performing close to a million transactions on a daily basis. Because Hong Kong is the world’s busiest airport for international cargo, Hactl operates around the clock to avoid keeping valuable freight and aircraft waiting.
“The new Brocade SAN switches enable us to consolidate tier 1 and tier 2 storage capacity into virtualized resource pools that are available to our production, disaster recovery, and development domains. In essence our storage environment is more simple and flexible,” said John Lee, Senior IT Operations Manager at Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd. “This makes for much better resource utilization and has also had a dramatic impact on storage network operating costs, which are down 70 percent overall. At the moment, our SAN mostly runs at 4 and 8 Gigabits per second but, as Gen 5 Fibre Channel devices, the new switches support 16 Gigabits per second throughput, which will allow us to run more data-intensive systems, such as business intelligence and Big Data analytics, over the SAN.”
The Brocade solution was designed and implemented by Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Professional Services, which impressed Lee as the only vendor to propose a better approach to the storage network migration than Hactl had laid out in its tender document. The actual migration, spanning nearly 2 months, was flawless, which reflected HDS’s meticulous planning and preparation, according to Lee.
“Hactl is a great illustration of the benefits of SAN simplification and virtualization,” said Franklin Sze, Regional Director for Hong Kong, Taiwan & Macau, Brocade. “By leveraging advanced Brocade SAN fabric technology, Hactl’s SuperTerminal 1 has gone from having essentially two separate multi-layered SANs that were complex to operate, to having a single-layer storage fabric that spans the whole terminal. This makes life much simpler for the system administrators and enables Hactl to use its storage resources far more efficiently, which increase its return on investment.”
Although Hactl’s primary and secondary data centers are approximately 550 meters apart, Brocade DCX 8510 Backbones at each site are part of the same SAN fabric, which allows storage resources in each data center to be combined into virtual pools. The backbones also support fabric virtualization, so Hactl’s production, development, and disaster recovery environments each have their own storage fabrics running over the same switching infrastructure, maintaining the required levels of data and fault isolation without increasing cost and complexity. In all the new infrastructure supports more than 100TB of data center storage and 300 physical and virtual servers with ample capacity for expansion.
According to Lee, Hactl’s new SAN infrastructure streamlines troubleshooting with all the information administrators need consolidated into a single Web-based dashboard with Brocade Fabric Vision™ technology, helping maximize availability. Another valuable benefit of the Brocade DCX 8510 Backbones is their support for online firmware upgrades, which means the SAN can now run non-stop and utilize the latest functionality, without the need for maintenance windows that previously impacted terminal operations.
With the new Brocade SAN fabric in place, Hactl plans to upgrade its tier 1 and tier 2 storage arrays to fully exploit Gen 5 Fibre Channel performance. Lee says that Hactl is also looking at leveraging the Brocade DCX 8510 Backbones’ integrated metro and global SAN extension capabilities to migrate from the company’s existing tape-based backup system to backups in the cloud.