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MHI Nuclear Engineering Co., Ltd. (MNEC), a member of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, wasconsidering creating a replication system between its head office in Yokohama and its Kobe office as a part of its provisions for business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR). By implementing Riverbed Steelhead® appliances, MNEC is now able to achieve real high-speed data transfer speeds of up to 110Mbps even though bandwidth is 10Mbps. Also, by using quality of service (QoS) to implement priority control of traffic, the company has created a stable replication environment between its sites that has no impact on other traffic.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Engineering

Challenges

  • Strengthening BC/DR provisions with remote replication
  • Increasing speeds without upgrading the existing WAN connection

Solution

  • Riverbed® Steelhead appliances

Benefits

  • Greater than 10 times increase in replication speed
  • Fast and reliable BC/DR provisions implemented
  • Utilized the existing WAN connection efficiently
  • Reduced management workload

MHI Nuclear Engineering Co., Ltd. (MNEC)

Remote Replication Speed Increased By More Than 10 Times After Deployment of Riverbed Steelhead Appliances

MHI Nuclear Engineering Co., Ltd. (MNEC), a member of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, was considering creating a replication system between its head office in Yokohama and its Kobe office as a part of its provisions for business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR). However, there were limitations on the amount of bandwidth out of the existing leased connection that could be used for backups, so the company was faced with the challenge of coping with the high costs that would be incurred by upgrading the connection or forming a new contract.

Instead, MNEC looked to Riverbed Steelhead appliances to achieve greatly increased speeds of the company’s WAN connection without making any changes to the existing line. By implementing Steelhead appliances, MNEC is now able to achieve real high-speed data transfer speeds of up to 110Mbps even though bandwidth is 10Mbps. Also, by using QoS to implement priority control of traffic, the company has created a stable replication environment between its sites that has no impact on other traffic.

Challenge: Connection speed was creating a serious bottleneck that p revented the implementation of replication over the WAN

MNEC is a general nuclear engineering company that was formed through a merger in April 2009 of three companies that were responsible for the development of engineering, computer software, and new models of nuclear reactors. As a member of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, MNEC’s core business includes basic design, analysis, and evaluation of nuclear power plants and related facilities. Some examples of this business include the development of new reactor types and the design of plants. The company provides ever more advanced and high quality technical services based around actualizing safety and security in nuclear power.

Starting in the summer of 2010, MNEC began to seriously consider a remote replication system that would create mutual backups between the company’s Yokohama head office and its Kobe office as one part of its provisions for BC/DR. At that time, the company had replaced the Windows server it had been using as a file server with an EMC file server (EMC Celerra). In order to strengthen its BC/DR provisions, MNEC used this opportunity to work on creating a reliable environment in which business could continue at one of its offices even if a disaster did occur.

It would achieve this by creating mutual backups of the data of both offices. The company had actually already implemented remote replication, but the amount of data it handled was growing faster than expected due to business expansions, and the limitations on usable connection bandwidth had begun to create a bottleneck. Since it was difficult to secure time for backups on a daily basis, the company had initially given up on the idea.

“There was an array of constraints on elements of our system infrastructure including the network, so more importantly than cost considerations related to upgrading the connection or forming a new contract, we were faced with a situation in which we were not able to freely change our infrastructure,” explained Takeki Ogawa, deputy director of the Administration Department in the Management Promotive Division.

Daisuke Sato, manager of the information systems group within the administration department, said, “After installing our EMC file server in the summer of 2009, we again started to consider remote replication since we had received several proposals regarding WAN optimization solutions (specifically WAFS). A sales representative who understood our company’s situation suggested that we run a trial using the equipment, so we thought that since the timing was right, maybe we could give it a try.”

Solution: Speed of the WAN increased by more than 10 times with Steelhead

MNEC began considering how to implement the trial in the autumn of 2010. The trial was run from mid-January to mid-March 2011.

The trial was implemented by connecting Steelhead to each of the two EMC file servers in the Kobe office’s server room. In a test performed with around 300GB of data, performing synchronization for the first time took approximately 7.5 hours. After data was cached and the test was run a second time, the procedure was completed in approximately 5.7 hours. MNEC confirmed that with the presence of a data cache, the time required was reduced by around two hours. After seeing the speed increases in the trial performed at this office, MNEC next transferred one of the Steelhead appliances with cached data from the Kobe office to the Yokohama head office, and implemented a remote replication trial over the WAN from late February to mid-March.

In this trial, tests were run using two sets of data approximately 300GB each, and one of approximately 50GB. For the trial, the data link was limited to 10Mbps, the speed allotted for backups.

Achieving performance more than 10 times faster

“With our trial using around 300GB of data, the process that took around 74 hours (equivalent to 9.2Mbps) before the installation of the WAFS took only around six hours with the cached data (equivalent to 110Mbps), which showed a performance boost of more than 10 times. For the trial using approximately 50GB of cached data we also saw strong performance with speeds equivalent to 135Mbps,” said Sato, giving his appraisal regarding the trial results.

Meanwhile, in tests of uncached data, for which there was no major deduplication, Riverbed’s Quality of Service (QoS) technology was used to apply real-time optimization, which led to increased speeds of approximately 20Mbps even with bandwidth controlled at 10Mbps. Even after the disk space allotted for caches was filled, speeds were maintained that were almost two times faster, and MNEC saw that since caches were replaced for data that was transmitted repeatedly, speeds also gradually improved.

Based on these trial results, MNEC decided to officially adopt Steelhead, and went on to implement Steelhead 2050 in its offices in both Yokohama and Kobe.

Benefits: Implementation of fast and reliable BC/DR provisions

In this way, Steelhead consistently enabled speeds to be nearly doubled, and boosted performance by more than 10 times. MNEC now utilizes this performance to implement backups between its offices once every hour instead of once every day.

“These results were greater than what we had initially imagined. The Great East Japan Earthquake struck right in the middle of our tests of the Steelhead appliance, and this reminded us again of the importance of creating backups at a remote site. So in this sense, I believe that by choosing Steelhead appliances, we have made a major contribution to BC/DR provisions by implementing more secure remote replication of important data,” said Ogawa, offering his acclaim of Steelhead.

Regarding costs, Sato said, “If we had, for example, doubled the speed of our data line or put in a new 10Mbps line, we would have been faced with installation costs on top of the operational costs from connection fees. Thus, if we compared this with our implementation of Steelhead based on the total cost of ownership, I believe that there would be quite a large difference.”

Takanori Hotei of the Administration Department’s Information Systems Group said, “The elements that I appreciate are the fact that the interface is browser-based and easy to understand, the fact that installation was easy since there was no need to change the settings of other pieces of system infrastructure, and the fact that because of the QoS functionality, there was no effect on other transmissions even though we were using an existing connection.”

Looking ahead: Increasing the data that is replicated and further enhancing BC/DR provisions

When MNEC initially and officially installed Steelhead appliances, the amount of data backed up between its offices was only around 400GB. Since then, MNEC has been working to gradually addmore data areas for inclusion in the backups.

Regarding the future, Sato said, “For the file servers that store important corporate data, we plan to run trials including those on data relocation, and to further increase the range of data that is backed up between our offices.”

“Implementing fast and reliable BC/DR provisions without upgrad-ing network connection .”

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