Carlson Companies Carlson Companies
Read the case study, Carlson Companies Storage Solutions.
Write a fully developed paper in which you:
Assess how the Carlson SAN approach would be implemented in today’s environment.
Compare the pros and cons of consolidating data on a SAN central data facility versus the dispersed arrangement it replaces.
Evaluate the issues raised from the Carlson SAN mixing equipment from a number of vendors and determine the management options for dealing with this type of situation.
Justify the reduction of administration and management of storage networking through Carlson’s IP SAN.
Assess how cloud computing could be used by Carlson instead of a SAN. Create a diagram using Visio or its open source alternative software to illustrate the use of cloud computing.
Use at least three quality resources in this assignment. Note: Wikipedia and similar websites do not qualify as quality resources.
This course requires the use of Strayer Writing Standards. For assistance and information, please refer to the Strayer Writing Standards link in the left-hand menu of your course. Check with your professor for any additional instructions. The specific course learning outcome associated with this assignment is:
Create a diagram illustrating how the use of cloud computing can improve the efficiency of a business. C8-1
CASE STUDY 8
CARLSON COMPANIES STORAGE SOLUTIONS
Carlson Companies (www.carlson.com) is one of the largest privately held
companies in the United States, with more than 171,000 employees in more
than 150 countries. Carlson enterprises include a presence in marketing,
business and leisure travel, and hospitality industries. Its Carlson Hotels
Worldwide division owns and operates approximately 1,075 hotels located in
more than 70 countries. Radisson, Park Plaza, and Country Inn & Suites by
Carlson are some of its hotel brands. The hotel loyalty program is named
Club Carlson. The Carlson Restaurants Worldwide includes T.G.I. Friday’s
and the Pick Up Stix chains. The company registered approximately $38
billion in sales in 2011.
Carlson’s Information Technology (IT) division, Carlson Shared Services,
acts as a service provider to its internal clients and consequently must
support a spectrum of user applications and services. The IT division uses a
centralized data processing model to meet business operational
requirements. The central computing environment has traditionally included
an IBM mainframe and over 50 networked Hewlett-Packard and Sun servers
[KRAN04, CLAR02, HIGG02]. The mainframe supports a wide range of
applications, including Oracle financial database, e-mail, Microsoft Exchange,
Web, PeopleSoft, and a data warehouse application.
In 2002, the IT division established six goals for assuring that IT
services continued to meet the needs of a growing company with heavy
reliance on data and applications:
1. Implement an enterprise data warehouse.
2. Build a global network.
3. Move to enterprise-wide architecture.
4. Establish six-sigma quality for Carlson clients.
5. Facilitate outsourcing and exchange.
6. Leverage existing technology and resources.
The key to meeting these goals was to implement a storage area
network (SAN) with a consolidated, centralized database to support
mainframe and server applications. Carlson needed a SAN and data center
approach that provided a reliable, highly scalable facility to accommodate
the increasing demands of its users.
Prior to implementing the SAN and data center approach, the central DP
shop included separate disc storage for each server, plus that of the
mainframe. This dispersed data storage scheme had the advantage of
responsiveness; that is, the access time from a server to its data was
minimal. However, the data management cost was high. There had to be
backup procedures for the storage on each server, as well as management
controls to reconcile data distributed throughout the system. The mainframe
included an efficient disaster recovery plan to preserve data in the event of
major system crashes or other incidents and to get data back online with
little or no disruption to the users. No comparable plan existed for the many
As Carlson’s databases grow beyond 10 terabytes (TB) of business-
critical data, the IT team determined that a comprehensive network storage
strategy would be required to manage future growth.
The existing Carlson server complex made use of Fibre Channel links to
achieve communication and backup capabilities among servers. Carlson
considered extending this capability to a full-blown Fibre Channel SAN that
would encompass the servers, the mainframe, and massive centralized
storage facilities. The IT team concluded that further expansion using Fibre
Channel technologies alone would be difficult and costly to manage. At the
same time, in supporting the many offsite client systems that accessed data
center servers, the IT shop already had a substantial investment in IP
network products and staff training. Accordingly, Carlson sought a solution
that would leverage this IP investment, provide scalability as additional local
and remote services are added, and require minimal traffic engineering of
the storage transport network.
Thus, Carlson settled on a solution based on a core IP SAN that would
meet both data-center and wide-area storage requirements and seamlessly
integrate new storage technologies.
Carlson Data Center SAN
The core of the Carlson SAN was an IP-based scheme in which Gigabit
Ethernet switches carry IP traffic among servers and between servers and
the central storage. Attached to the Gigabit switches were Nishan IP storage
switches, which provided a Fibre Channel interface for the servers and
storage and an IP traffic switch into the Ethernet core (Figure C8.1). The
Ethernet switches had a considerable cost advantage over comparable Fibre
Channel switches and required lower-cost management and maintenance.
For redundancy, servers were dual-homed to the IP storage switches,
which in turn connected to redundant Ethernet switches. The ratio of servers
to storage interconnect was determined by the throughput requirements of
each server group. Similarly, multiple IP storage switches connected the
Ethernet switch core to the SAN storage system. This configuration could be
scaled to support additional servers and storage arrays by adding additional
IP storage switches. The network core of Ethernet switches could also
expand by adding additional switches.
The focus of the Carlson SAN was a 13-TB HP StorageWorks Disc array.
A major consideration in planning the transition was the migration of data
from the mainframe’s storage to the central storage. The mainframe hosts
several mission-critical applications in a round-the-clock fashion. Thus, an
offline data migration was not feasible. The migration of all common data to
this array proceeded in two phases. In the first phase, each server was
taken offline and a simple copy was performed to transfer the application
data on the server systems to the new storage system. The second phase
involved the transfer of 1.2 TB of data from the mainframe’s legacy storage
to the new storage system. Carlson contracted this task out to HP storage
experts who made use of proprietary data migration and network
management tools to enable the transfer to occur during production
processing hours. End users were unaffected during the migration.
Carlson’s IP SAN helped reduce the ongoing administration and
management of storage networking by taking advantage of well-established
and well-understood IP networking technologies. In addition, putting storage
data over IP facilitated integration of more efficient storage services for
Carlson’s enterprise-wide network including centralized backup of remote
sites to the data center SAN.
Carlson’s Shared Storage Model
The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has developed
several frameworks to technologists and business managers understand the
relationship among host applications, storage networks, and storage
facilities. One of these is called the Shared Storage Model (SSM). The SSM
provides guidance for designing storage networks within the context of the
upper layer applications that rely on storage resources and the storage
architectures that are available to satisfy them.
Like the OSI network model, the SSM is divided into layers and has an
application layer at the topmost level. Immediately beneath the application
layer is the file/record layer; this includes file system and database system
components. The block aggregation layer is located beneath the file/record
layer; this includes host, network, and device sublayers. The storage device
layer is beneath the block/aggregation level and the block layer is lowest
level in the framework – it is here that issues like space
management/compression, striping, and redundancy are specified.
The usefulness of SSM for understanding storage architectures was
embraced by Carlson’s network designers [SEAR12]. It helped them clarify
the relationship between application resources and storage resources and
opportunities to further streamline storage administration to enable more
efficient use of storage capacity. This led to the storage network design
illustrated in Figure C8.2.
In the new storage network architecture features a single SAN-attached
storage array with a capacity in excess of 10 terabytes that is shared by
Carlson custom and Oracle applications. This resource offers more
economical maintenance and easier administration than the storage arrays
that were replaced. Shared directories and data for other internal
applications migrated to NAS filer systems which could provide cross-
platform support as well as remote NAS service for Carlson users.
Remote storage access is beneficial to organizations like Carlson that
want to unite geographically dispersed sites within a global IT strategy. Such
a scheme helps safeguard business continuity by enabling backups for
remote sites to be carried out within the central data center. Carlson uses
software that enables block change backups to be performed. This means
that on the data that has changed since the last backup is sent from the
remote site to the central data center’s backup facility; this reduces the
amount of data that must be sent across the WAN.
The SSM offers Carlson a coherent framework for analyzing current and
future data requirements at both its remote sites and the data center. It also
helps the company’s IT managers visualize the connection between its
storage network architecture and overall IT goals.
1. Discuss how Carlson’s storage solutions address the IT goals the
company is trying to achieve.
2. Discuss the pros and cons of consolidating data in central data center
facilities versus the distributed data storage arrangement it replaced.
3. Do some Internet research to identify other organizations that have
benefitted from Storage Network Industry Association’s Shared
Storage Model. What patterns of benefits can be observed?
[CLAR02] Clark, E. “Carlson Companies Trades up to an IP SAN.” Network
Magazine, December, 2002.
[HIGG02] Higgins, K. “T.G.I. Friday’s Owner Serves up an IP SAN.”
Network Computing, September 15, 2002.
[KRAN04] Kranz, G. “Strategic Storage: Eyeing IP Storage.”
Searchstorage.com, November 9, 2004.
[SEAR12] SearchStorageChannel. “SNIA Shared Storage Model: Practical
Implications.” TechTarget.com. Retrieved online at:
CASE STUDY 8
Carlson Data Center SAN
Carlson’s Shared Storage Model