PTO wants no net downtime

PTO wants no net downtime

Agency officials consider building architecture around storage area network

By Florence Olsen
GCN Staff

Business losses caused by network outages worry senior government officials just as they do corporate executives, said Larry Cogut, director of the Office of System Architecture and Engineering at the Patent and Trademark Office.

Cogut's job is to recommend a PTO information technology architecture that assures no significant losses in filing revenues or employee productivity.

'It's very much a business, and timing is of the essence,' he said.

Cogut is considering a storage area network. The concept has created a buzz in the storage industry.

It provides the kind of disaster avoidance that PTO needs to protect its growing patent-filing business.

Right on track

The problem right now is lack of interoperability, he said, but once the storage industry reaches 'the right consensus on standards, we'll see the big push. We're optimistic that all of this will be integrated in the not-too-distant future.'

Separate from LAN servers running Unix or Microsoft Windows NT, a storage area network would let Unix and Windows NT platforms share expensive mass storage. A SAN could ensure failover recovery between data centers and could permit remote network connections.

Cogut envisions mirrored server operating systems and a Fibre Channel switched SAN. Such an architecture would let PTO carry on the same volume of business with fewer servers and individual storage units. The idea is to load-balance the server processing and dynamically redistribute the storage workloads, he said.

PTO currently operates an OC-12 asynchronous transfer mode network backbone of about 80 HP 9000 D-Class, K-Class, T-Class and V-Class servers from Hewlett-Packard Co. running HP-UX.

The agency's client-server operations require 31 separate EMC 5500, 5430 and 5700 SCSI-2 and Fibre Channel RAID storage units from EMC Corp. of Hopkinton, Mass.

'We still have mainframes and optical storage, but we're getting off them quite well,' Cogut said.

PTO archives its data in several digital tape formats'IBM-compatible 3480, 3490 and 3490E plus industry-standard digital linear tape'using EMC Data Manager and file backup and recovery software from Legato Systems Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif.

Not all current PTO servers and mass-storage devices will fit into the future architecture, Cogut said. PTO has a technical reference model to classify the integration of current and future hardware and software products.

'The technical reference model protects our investment and lets us plan coherently and make best use of our system development processes,' Cogut said.

The right place

There are business continuity plans in place for an outage. But as always, Cogut said, 'We want to invest in technology that will allow us to reduce risk and react faster.'

Moreover, the agency wants a future electronic workplace with secure electronic filing and electronic document management applications.

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