Oil and gas company digs IP storage

Facing enormous data growth and a backup window wall, oil and gas exploration company Cypress E&P is again in the midst of upgrading an IP-attached storage system -- just 18 months after turning to the technology to replace its direct-attached storage.

Eric Bass, director of technology at Cypress, said the Houston-based company is migrating to a high-end IP storage area network (SAN) from Intransa to replace the midrange IP 5500 model installed in January 2005. An upgrade to the new Intransa IP 7500 will cost about US$87,000, Bass said. The new functionality will be added to its existing IP 5500 system, he said. "We will not have to give up the use of any equipment."

The company first selected IP SAN technology in its search for technology to replace the older system about three years ago when it realized it would soon be outgrowing its direct-attached storage infrastructure.

At the time, Fibre Channel was "cost prohibitive," Bass said. The company began looking at IP-attached storage from Intransa, in San Jose, in January, 2005. While Bass said he considered Network Appliance in California, he did not look at specific products because he did not feel it was as committed as Intransa to IP SANs and its pricing and features were not as attractive.

In addition, Bass said that officials at another independent oil and gas company, which he declined to identify, recommended the Intransa product based on their experience with it. "It was very similar to what we'd be doing, and they raved about the performance," Bass said.

With the new IP SAN, the company was also able to run its industry-specific accounting software from Allen Business Resources, in Houston, and its seismic software on a separate IP storage networks to maintain performance on both systems.

Intransa IP storage systems use the same basic architecture of an external enclosure for storage capacity independent of its controller nodes, allowing users to add storage on the fly.

Cypress' Intransa IP5500 includes two active controllers, 4GB cache and four disk enclosures, to which the company has added a fifth disk enclosure. The IP 7500 that Cypress is evaluating includes four controllers, 8GB cache and seven enclosures.

Separately, Cypress is in the midst of upgrading its backup storage system, Bass said. "I can no longer even come close to doing a full backup," because of the amount of data he has and the time it takes to back it up, he said. "I'm stuck doing selective backups of the most critical data."

Currently Bass has a single tape library from Dell using SuperDLT drives and is looking to move to a an LTO 3 tape library from Quantum in San Jose with two Hewlett-Packard LTO-3 Ultrium tape drives using backup software from CommVault Systems in Oceanport, N.J., he said.