The Dutch Aerospace Centre implements a fast and reliable back-up solution.

The Dutch Aerospace Centre (NLR) is the Dutch knowledge organization for the identification, development and application of advanced technological knowledge in the field of aerospace. From its two locations in Amsterdam and Marknesse, NLR as a knowledge institute strengthens the innovative power, effectiveness and competitiveness of the government and Dutch industry. NLR has been in existence for almost 100 years and has 550 employees.

The core activities of NLR consist of conducting tests and measurements, including aerodynamics, noise and air quality, testing and designing parts of aircraft and missiles under different conditions, as well as investigating flight safety and procedures around airports.
NLR has its own measuring aircraft for this. The laying of glass and carbon fibre connections with the help of robots is also one of the activities that NLR develops. A highly advanced wind tunnel is located at the NLR complex, where aircraft from all over the world are tested.

A concrete example of a project in which NLR is actively involved is the ‘round runway’. The company is responsible for conducting feasibility studies, including the effects of such a runway type on flight procedures and the impact on equipment and passengers.

The challenge

Due to the nature of NLR’s activities, secrecy, security, confidentiality and the integrity of data are crucial aspects of the organization. In recent years, NLR has been confronted with explosive data growth, as a result of which the current technology of the existing storage environment is not well suited to the requirements of NLR: high availability, better performance and the need for a storage system that supports both SAN and NAS protocols. NLR also worked with a Citrix XenServer environment. This had to be migrated to a NAS-based Microsoft Hyper-V solution. There was also a need for a consolidation of Windows file services to provide a more scalable solution.

Finally, the company was looking for more ways to improve storage efficiency, reduce costs and reduce the administrative burden. Important for the organization were the integration possibilities with the existing security solutions that NLR uses to protect itself against data loss. In addition, NLR wants to be able to manage its technology itself and have ready knowledge to cope with technical malfunctions where possible.

The solution

NLR has opted for a redundant implementation of the NetApp FAS8020 with ONTAP data management software at both locations. The starting point was that at least one system should remain operational at all times without users noticing that a system was offline. The data is therefore fully replicated between the two locations. NetApp data management solutions are used in all facets
to ensure highly reliable and complete application-consistent replication between data centres.

For its virtualization needs, NLR switched to Microsoft Hyper-V based on SMB3 NAS functionality. By making smart use of the multi-protocol functionality of the NetApp platform, the existing XenServer environment was quickly migrated to the Hyper-V environment. In this way, better integration with the failover mechanism and the various security solutions has been achieved.

DMP was responsible for the design of the solution at NLR. “The combination with DMP is strong. When implementing a system, there is not only trust in the product; trusting the people who have to implement it is just as crucial”, said Hugo van Dort, senior manager at NLR. “At DMP, that just went well.”

Business benefits

The new NetApp system provides many benefits for NLR. To begin with, the new system is easily scalable and creating application-consistent snapshot and replication is done in an instant. The NetApp systems offer more than enough room to receive data (peaks). NLR now has everything to recover from a disaster or incident very quickly.

The double configuration gives the company peace of mind. Hugo van Dort: “Our offsite copy is at a considerable distance, and the two locations are connected to each other through a redundant Fibre Channel glass connection. If necessary, we can facilitate everything from one location, so that the processes of the company do not come to a standstill.”

Hugo van Dort: “With the implementation of Microsoft Hyper-V with SMB3, we now use file storage instead of block storage. Because NetApp already worked with file storage, this efficiency improvement has resulted in a substantial capacity saving for us. In fact, we have even been able to reduce storage usage by a factor of three.”

Of course, the ONTAP management software, which is included in the NetApp FAS series, contributes to optimum data efficiency through deduplication, compression and compaction. There are even more advantages. Geert Jan Dekker, IT manager at NLR, adds: “The combination of NetApp and Microsoft Hyper-V is more efficient than our previous solution. A number of servers is significantly faster or has less CPU load.”

All in all, the IT department benefits from a reduced management burden, more efficiency, automated workflows and lower costs.


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