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Customer Case Study

Information Solutions Provider Upgrades to
Cisco 4Gbps FICON Switching and Storage
Infrastructure in Record Time

Thomson Transaction Services (TTS), a comprehensive brokerage processing solution
and part of Thomson Reuters, successfully upgrades FICON SAN in less than two
months, improving application performance and efficiency without interrupting service

EXEC U TIVE SUM MA RY TTS' unparalleled suite of products includes front-
office tools for advisors as well as applications for the
(TTS) back office that streamline processes and workflows.
● Industry: Information Services
With operational headquarters in the Midwest and
● Location: Wisconsin
● Number of Employees: 600
offices in multiple countries, TTS provides value-
added information, innovative software tools and
● Complete overhaul of FICON SAN business-critical applications to professionals in the
infrastructure in less than two months without
disrupting service or interfering with daily
field of financial services.
● Increase workload performance, Busi nes s C hall e nge
administrative efficiencies, and service
availability to customers
TTS products provide value-added information with
● Increase FICON SAN ports with integrated
FICON extension capabilities to meet present software tools and applications that help its
and future needs
customers make better decisions, faster. In an effort
to keep its IT infrastructure current, the company
● Upgrade FICON SAN infrastructure to provide
a reliable and highly available FICON began exploring options to replace its aging
switching infrastructure and to upgrade its FICON
SAN to allow for additional capacity and help TTS
● Extremely reliable and highly available FICON
SAN environment, capable of upgrading to stay on top of the mission-critical, end-to-end
8Gbps without disruption
● Ability to provide a non-blocking architecture
processing for a large number of brokerage houses,
that can dedicate bandwidth for heavy which the company supports.
workloads for present and future needs
● Consistent look and feel of common
TTS has two data centers located in the Midwest:
mainframe administration tools
one acts as the primary production site, and the
other as a disaster recovery site for synchronous
disk-based mirroring between the two sites, as well as IBM peer-to-peer virtual tape replication.
The IT infrastructure is comprised of IBM mainframe servers with a heterogeneous storage mixture
of EMC and IBM to help run a variety of financial applications.

When some of the existing equipment in the TTS IT infrastructure needed replacing, Todd Pieper,
Director Mainframe Operating Systems for TTS, and the TTS team decided to transition to a new
system, including moving a production data center, replacing FICON directors and migrating to a
new tape grid.

© 2008 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 1 of 5
Customer Case Study

“We had a very aggressive implementation schedule to replace our FICON directors,” says Pieper.
“We had to wait until July to start on the replacement solution and we needed to be up and running
by September so we would not have to renew our current service contract. We also wanted to take
this opportunity to increase our storage capacity of our one and two Gbps blades.”

With just a few short months to complete the migration to a new system, Pieper and his team had
to work quickly to get the implementation plan approved and executed without disrupting service
during conversion.

Ne tw ork S ol uti on
The team reviewed a short list of leading vendors in the switching and SAN spaces and decided on
Cisco MDS 9000 directors to upgrade its FICON SAN. They also chose Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series
switches when upgrading its IP switching infrastructure.

See Figure 1 for a network diagram of the deployed configuration.

Figure 1. Network Diagram

The industry in which TTS participates demands the highest levels of system performance,
reliability, availability and scalability, and these considerations were key criteria for selecting and
deploying network and storage infrastructure. The end state is a current technology processor to
storage through industry-leading 4 Gig FICON infastructure that will serve TTS well into the future.

© 2008 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 2 of 5
Customer Case Study

“We migrated our host, storage and optical links to the Cisco MDS directors,” says Pieper. “We also
upgraded our capacity from 2Gbps FICON to 4Gbps FICON. We chose to isolate specific
workloads via Cisco’s FICON VSAN technology. Cisco’s FICON VSAN technology is something
that was familiar to us. We have always used LPARs in our mainframe and disk environment and
Cisco’s FICON VSANs are nearly identical in functionality. Each FICON VSAN appears to the
mainframe as a different FICON director, each with its own set of fabric services, domain ID and
management. Today, we use FICON VSANs to separate our replication traffic (IBMs Global
Mirroring and VTS, and EMC’s SRDF). In the future, we can further leverage FICON VSAN
technology to create an independent FICON test VSAN, workload based VSANs and even an
Open Systems based VSAN.”

“One of the mai n reasons we selected Ci sco i s
that the company has the l atest technology and
a product roadmap that is w ell posi tioned for
the future. The MDS Directors we just depl oyed
allow us to add more ports and support density
for capaci ty. We now have the capability to
grow wel l into the future and C isco w ill be ri ght
there wi th us.”
—Todd Pieper, Director Mainframe Operating Systems, Thomson Transaction Services

According to Pieper, the purpose for the new infrastructure was not only for a FICON attached
mainframe, but also to facilitate replication between the two data centers in a synchronous mode.

Setting up synchronous replication between the two data centers was key to protecting TTS’
mission-critical data. In the old infrastructure, inter-switch Links (ISLs) had the potential to become
saturated because they were specific to certain ports. Using Cisco port channels allowed them to
balance the ISL’s and greatly improve performance. Cisco port channels are synonymous with
trunking. By creating a port channel with 2 or more cascaded links or ISLs, TTS has increased the
aggregate trunk bandwidth from 4Gbps to 8Gbps or more.

Port Channels when combined with FICON VSANs allow workloads to be assigned to specific port
channels. This allows for customers like TTS to separate their FICON tape and disk environment,
while also independently setting the amount of bandwidth per port channel. Cisco’s MDS FICON
directors can have up to 16 physical links per port channel and up to 256 port channels per MDS.
For tape storage, TTS selected the IBM VTS Grid, including the TS7740 Virtualization Engine and
TS3500 Enterprise Tape Library.

Pieper says he and his team especially like Cisco Fabric Manager and the graphical user interface
of the MDS directors. Cisco Fabric Manager is a GUI interface that allows for fabric and device
level control of a large or small environment. All device monitoring and configuration, zoning, call
home and bandwidth management are controlled via secure in-band communication to the
mainframe with CUP or secure out-of-band IP based communication. Additionally, roles based
access control allows for very specific login based access and control of a given environment.

“We were drawn to the interface and were particularly interested in the ability the interface gave us
to view historical performance data,” says Pieper. “The FICON workshop Cisco held for us covered
SAN terminology and helped us agree on a design and approach for migration. The demonstration

© 2008 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 3 of 5
Customer Case Study

gave us a deep perspective on how Cisco could give us a competitive edge over the solution we
had used previously.”

In keeping with the TTS corporate directive of performing the implementation without disrupting
service, the upgrades were conducted during off hours within Thomson’s maintenance window,
which meant only weekends.

Cisco’s MDS FICON directors ability to statically set the FICON port address to any port and the
ability to set a FICON VSAN to any Domain ID necessary, allows for seamless online migration. No
changes to the IOCDS are necessary.

“In order to ensure there was no down time during critical work hours, we only allowed changes to
the infrastructure on the weekends,” says Pieper. “Cisco worked with us side-by-side on the
weekends to perform the implementation and configuration. We successfully made our September
deadline without any interruption of service.”

Pieper credits Cisco’s local engineering team as instrumental in helping them achieve their goal of
beating the September deadline for the upgrade. “The local team was with us for the duration,”
says Pieper. “Cisco gave us training sessions and devoted plenty of time for one-on-ones, which
made our overall process run smoothly.”

Cisco’s deep understanding of mainframe operations was also one of the deciding factors that led
Pieper and his team to select the MDS directors and switching upgrades.

“Cisco helped us acquire new technology with advanced capabilities, and with a comfort level
because Cisco understands mainframe operations,” says Pieper. “The Port bandwidth reservation
feature also allowed us to design our infrastructure with over-subscription, while allowing us to
dedicate bandwidth to the devices that really needed it. This gives us control over traffic
management functionality.”

Busi nes s Re s ult s
The overall benefits from the Cisco upgrade, according to Pieper, include increased speed,
increased performance and the new FICON SAN.

“Having the capability of matching speeds with what our optical network can do is clearly one of the
main benefits from this upgrade and was something we could not do within the old infrastructure,”
says Pieper. “Cisco also has a superior intelligence management approach to its FICON network.”

Among other key benefits Pieper attributes to the upgrade include a consistent look and feel the
team had grown accustomed to from a mainframe perspective. Pieper also says Cisco’s
understanding of the mainframe FICON environment deepened the trust with the team.

“We were impressed with how well Cisco spoke the language of the mainframe FICON
environment,” says Pieper. “We especially liked the fact that by using our mainframe license for the
MDS 9513 Directors we could also get a consistent look and feel to what we had come to expect
from a mainframe in the area of configuration and still see similarities with what we’d used
previously. The mainframe package also allows us to essentially manage the directors with the
same tools with which we’ve always managed our other FICON and ESCON directors. The
similarity has greatly helped us easily migrate to the new platform.”

© 2008 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is Cisco Public Information. Page 4 of 5
Customer Case Study

The ultra high-availability of the Cisco MDS 9513 Directors was another benefit from the upgrade,
according to Pieper. In the event of a loss of a critical component, the MDS FICON director
maintains 100% bandwidth. This same architecture is also 8Gbps-ready, so any FICON directors
purchased today will allow for future speeds and technologies with disruption.

“Previously, if TTS were to lose any component out of the box, we stood to lose half our
bandwidth,” says Pieper. “The MDS Directors are high-availability devices and if we were ever to
lose a critical component, we would still be running at 100% bandwidth, which is very important to a
mainframe customer. The redundancy of the MDS 9513 Directors enables resiliency without
compromise in performance.”

Controlling bandwidth over the network is also a key advantage from the implementation, according
to Pieper.

“One of the features we find to be most promising is the port bandwidth reservation,” says Pieper.
“This feature will allow us to design our infrastructure with over-subscription, while also giving us
the ability to dedicate bandwidth to devices that really need it. Bottom line, it will help us control and
manage traffic functionality.”

Ne xt St eps
As Pieper and his team look into the future of the IT infrastructure, he says he believes Cisco is
helping position TTS for future growth and preparing the way for advancements.

“One of the main reasons we selected Cisco is that the company has the latest technology and a
product roadmap that is well-positioned for the future. The MDS Directors we just deployed allow
us to add more ports and support density for capacity. We now have the capability to grow well into
the future and Cisco will be right there with us.”

For M ore I nf orma ti on
Cisco App licatio n Networking Services:
To find out more about Cisco storage networking
● Cisco MDS 9513 Directors products at
● Cisco Catalyst 6500/4649 Series switches

Printed in USA C36-450251-02 05/08

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