House of Travel Australia finds value in software-defined storage

Travel agent firm can scale its storage environment up or down when required

House of Travel Australia has used a software-defined storage services platform to reduce capital expenditure and improve the resilience of its storage environment.

The company has a network of 460 personal travel managers based around Australia.

House of Travel Australia's director of IT, Matthew Harris, said it implemented DataCore’s SANsymphony-V software in May 2014 to manage virtualized storage for its VMware ESX systems.

“The expenditure on this software solution saved significant capital expenditure while providing a stable operational environment,” he said.

“The biggest benefit is peace of mind for our future. We can scale [storage] up or down and scale to multiple sites. DataCore can handle any level of workload that I need to give to it."

House of Travel operates two business units, which are TravelManagers and HOOT Holidays. Both business units store their data on the DataCore solution.

Aside from giving Harris peace of mind, the system proved its worth when there was a hardware failure with one of its IBM servers earlier in 2014.

“The beauty of the DataCore system is that it keeps all of my data on two different servers. The [IBM] server went totally dead and there was no chance to do anything,” he said.

“DataCore indicated that the data was on another server and made it available to the VMware ESX system. As far as the VMware system was aware, it lost some processing and random access memory [RAM] power but all of its storage was still there. It automatically re-started our virtual machine on to the other hardware storage. The business suffered about one minute of sluggish performance but there was no downtime or data loss,” said Harris.

He is now looking at using DataCore’s Asynchronous offsite replication. This will provide an exact copy of House of Travel Australia’s data offsite so the firm can recover information quickly in an emergency. Harris plans to implement the software in Q1 of 2015.

The software-defined storage project was facilitated by the company’s IT partner, Centrix Solutions.

“Outsourcing a lot of the day-to-day IT functions like desktop support and server maintenance has allowed the business to concentrate on what it can make a difference in,” he said.

For example, Harris has been working on a number of other IT projects.

The company has been working closely with in the past year, specifically in the TravelManagers business unit.

“We’ve developed amazing efficiencies with our business processes by automating them within,” said Harris.

House of Travel Australia is using a customised version of Salesforce called

“You can buy a package which costs $10 per user, per month and customise it for what you need to do. We got a saving of over $100 per month, per user.”

In addition, the company is upgrading one of its accounting systems called Tramada.

“The product has been totally re-developed and is now based on Java J2EE and MySQL databases. We are re-training 450 users on the system,” he said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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