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Allens Arthur Robinson, a leading legal firm headquartered in Australia and operating throughout Asia, was looking to consolidate their data center environment. In order to avoid a massive bandwidth upgrade, Allens needed to find a solution that would provide the performance their top-tier lawyers required.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Legal

Challenges

  • Consolidate the data center environment while still delivering high-end application performance
  • Replicate 2.5 terabytes of data via EMC SRDF/A over the existing WAN infrastructure
  • Avoid a massive bandwidth upgrade to a 40 Mbps link for DR

Solution

  • Steelhead appliances enable a global data center consolidation with no performance penalty and accelerate the replication of mission-critical data

Benefits

  • Data center consolidation achieved with improved application response times
  • Approximately $100k in annual bandwidth savings for the data replication link alone
  • Business performance and resiliency enabled over the existing IT infrastructure

Allens Arthur Robinson

Riverbed Steelhead Appliances Optimize EMC SRDF/A for Leading Law Firm

Founded in 1822, Allens Arthur Robinson offers one of the most comprehensive legal networks in Australia and Asia with more than 1,000 personnel based in 14 cities and eight countries across the region. Clients voted Allens Arthur Robinson the Best Professional Services Firm (revenue over $200M) and Best Law Firm (revenue over $100M) in the annual BRW Client Choice Awards 2005, 2006 and 2008. They have been an EOWA Employer of Choice for Women since 2004.

Challenge: Application Performance and Resiliency

Like many organizations, Allens was looking to consolidate its infrastructure to save on hardware and maintenance costs and simplify management. The IT team knew that any deterioration in performance wouldn’t be acceptable to its top tier legal staff, but it also knew that upgrading bandwidth wouldn’t resolve the problem either.

“Our firm is headquartered in Australia and operates throughout Asia, so bandwidth is quite expensive and can have high latency. We also knew that if we were to consolidate, we had to deliver top tier performance to our lawyers. On top of that, upgrading links still wouldn’t address many of the application performance problems we’d be encountering anyway. So, we knew we had to find another solution,” said Shawn Schmidt, Infrastructure Manager.

In addition, Allens wanted to improve its disaster recovery processes by utilizing EMC SRDF/A replication over the WAN. The challenge lay in getting the data from Sydney to Melbourne while avoiding costly network upgrades.

IT Environment: EMC Symmetrix Arrays and SRDF/A

Allens relies on EMC Symmetrix arrays to house the data for both core and non-core applications. The arrays are DMX-3 950s with approximately 18 TB of usable storage. The core application data being replicated consists of SQL database logs, Hummingbird DM5 – a document management system, and Exchange. Using hardware compression already built-in to the EMC Symmetrix DMX platform, Allens was initially seeing a 2:1 compression ratio for their SRDF/A traffic.

Solution: Steelhead Appliances Lower the Bandwidth Threshold for SRDF/A

Given the compression ratio and the rate of change in the data that Allens was looking to replicate, EMC recommended a 40 Mbps WAN link for SRDF/A. Schmidt elaborated, “We were looking to replicate 10 LUNs, about 2.5 terabytes of data. EMC spec’d out the requirements and told us that we’d need a 40 Mbps link. That would run us about $8,000 a month, so we wanted to see whether or not the Steelhead appliances could help.”

After disabling the Symmetrix compression and letting the Steelhead appliances streamline the data, Allens was able to achieve significant data reduction for SRDF/A. “Using the Steelhead appliances, we’re seeing a 4 - 6:1 data reduction for SRDF/A, and instead of putting in a 40 Mbps pipe, we’re replicating data over our existing 12 Mbps link,” Schmidt added.

By achieving both consolidation and data replication, Allens has gotten even more leverage out of their investment in Steelhead appliances. “This is the second project that we’re using Steelhead appliances for. The first was our consolidation, and now, the EMC replication. The beauty is that we use the same Steelhead appliance in our data center core to perform both functions.”

Benefits: Consolidation and Bandwidth Savings without a Performance Penalty

Riverbed Steelhead appliances have enabled Allens Arthur Robinson to consolidate their server infrastructure while still delivering the expected level of application performance to their 1,000 lawyers operating throughout Asia. In addition, they’ve built redundancy into the environment by leveraging Steelhead appliances along with EMC’s SRDF/A.

Schmidt said, “We continue to be pleased with the performance of the Steelhead appliances. The ease with which they were implemented and the fact that we can use them across multiple applications and projects has been a huge bonus. We just plugged them in, turned them on, and began seeing the benefits.”

With LAN-like performance for its lawyers throughout its distributed operations and redundancy of its mission critical data, Allens Arthur Robinson has achieved success on two key IT initiatives. Schmidt added, “The technology really makes things that would be quite difficult a lot easier and it opens up a lot of possibilities.”

SUMMARY

Allens Arthur Robinson (Allens) wanted to improve collaboration between their law offices and among employees while also consolidating their IT infrastructure. As a law firm highly reliant on email and collaborative database applications, Allens needed to ensure high levels of performance for its attorneys.

At the same time, Allens was looking to ensure the availability of its mission critical applications and data via two EMC Symmetrix’s and SRDF/A for data replication. Based on initial specifications, the SRDF/A requirements called for a 40 Mbps WAN link to the DR facility.

After deploying Steelhead appliances from Riverbed, Allens Arthur Robinson has consolidated its IT infrastructure without impacting the performance for its lawyers and was able to replicate mission critical data using SRDF/A over its existing wide area network (WAN) links.

“Our firm is headquartered in Australia and operates throughout Asia, so bandwidth is quite expensive and can have high latency.”

“We’re seeing 4 to 6 times data reduction for SRDF/A, and instead of putting in a 40 Mbps pipe, we’re replicating data over our existing 12 Mbps link”

“The technology really makes things that would be quite difficult a lot easier.”

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