Virgin Games goes for lean, green storage

Gaming company consolidates and maximises data centre productivity.

Virgin Games has chosen to deploy new storage systems as part of new data centre infrastructure to help ensure business and compliance under new gaming regulations.

As part of the Virgin Group's global drive to develop and promote environmentally-friendly businesses, Virgin Games will use the new storage systems to consolidate multiple tiers of storage, applications and IT environments into a single platform while consuming the lowest levels of space and energy.

Leigh Brazier, Virgin Games IT and operations director said the company needed to find new storage while sourcing brand new data centre infrastructure that will be hosted offshore as part of the recently implemented UK government gaming regulations.

The wholly owned trading division of Virgin.com Limited operates a number of branded gaming services including Virgin Poker, Virgin Bingo and Virgin Casino.

Brazier told IT PRO: "We are building a new data centre as we move into new areas and look for means to host the environment offshore. This gave a blank sheet of paper in terms of finding out what was available across the market and what would best suit of our business in terms of our group-wide initiative in terms of our social responsibilities towards safeguarding the environment."

Virgin Games chose to fit the data centre out with HP Blade servers and VMWare virtualisation software, which Brazier said led the company to look for suitable storage arrays that would fit into this new IT environment.

He added that the Axiom storage system Virgin Games ended up buying from Pillar Data Systems drew the least power compared to competitor systems in its class, as well as beating the standard benchmark performance of rivals.

"We bought the storage systems primarily to back up our terabytes of data and for the number of spindles it offered for speeding I/O throughput, as we have very chatty protocols on our SQL servers," he said.

In addition, with the Pillar platform, Virgin Games is looking to achieve up to three times the disk utilisation compared with industry alternatives. By combining consolidation with maximum utilisation, Pillar's Axiom delivers more performance and capacity while consuming less space and energy than other midrange SATA disk storage systems in the market that Virgin evaluated.

Brazier also said he was attracted to Pillar Axiom storage because it offered nearly the same throughput speeds of alternative, direct attached fibre channel drives for the company's mission-critical data. And the predictable scaling Axiom offers with one standard system model means Virgin Games can easily add disaster recovery capacity later down the line. "With Pillar, there were no tradeoffs," he said.

The company took on the new storage six weeks ago and is currently in the testing phase before shipping it to its offshore hosted location in Guernsey.

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