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Design and integration of a storage area network for Molton Brown


Molton Brown is a well-known brand of luxuriously packaged beauty products. The company was founded in 1973 on South Molton Street in London and began life as a hair salon. The company’s philosophy has always been to create natural products and its first hair and beauty products were hand-mixed at the salon. By the 1980s the salon had evolved into the Molton Brown emporium and soon the company was supplying its products to top-end stores, airlines and hotels in cities around the world.

Today, Molton Brown operates on a much larger scale from its headquarters in Hertfordshire and has sixty shops in the UK and twenty overseas.

The Challenge

As a growing organisation, Molton Brown needed a scalable and resilient IT infrastructure to support its core business systems. When its existing Storage Area Network (SAN) came to the end of its life cycle and was no longer supportable, Molton Brown decided to look for a new, cost effective solution that was easy to set up and configure, but which was also able to support its virtualised environment.

The Solution

At the time of the tender, HP had just acquired LeftHand Networks, and data consolidation specialists, telent worked with HP on a tender to recommend an HP LeftHand SAN. “As the LeftHand SAN was a relatively new technology for HP, it submitted a tender in conjunction with telent. The recommended solution met budget requirements and a mix of the functionality offered by the LeftHand SAN and the level of expertise offered by telent was a winning combination for us,” said Navtej Bains, senior systems administrator, Molton Brown. HP LeftHand SANs are a powerful storage solution that scales performance along with capacity. They have a distributed clustered architecture which enables enhanced data availability compared to traditional SAN technology.

Molton Brown has recently invested quite heavily in VMware and it was essential that the new SAN infrastructure could support VMotion, an advanced feature of VMware that enables running virtual machines to be moved from one physical server to another without impacting the end user. By offloading the storage away from the server hardware (onto the LeftHand SAN), Molton Brown has additional resilience via automatic failover of the solution in case of hardware failures. HP LeftHand SANs are optimised for virtual environments, so can support VMotion and provide resilience and redundancy data storage so single points of failure are minimised.

The Results

telent rolled out the HP LeftHand SAN across Molton Brown’s data centre in London and its HQ in Elsenham, Hertfordshire in just three days with two days for training. It provided end-to-end integration and design of the SAN and also training for VMware. All downtime was scheduled for outside of Molton Brown’s core business hours, so there was minimal impact on services in the UK with only a small amount of downtime for Molton Brown sites based overseas.

The Benefits

In addition to VMware, the HP LeftHand SANs support Molton Brown’s other primary applications including Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server. Another key benefit of the HP LeftHand SAN is that it aids disaster recovery as its Snapshots feature allows Molton Brown to take point-in-time Snapshots of its key servers, making restores fast and simple.

“We can now take Snapshots throughout the day and restore a server in minutes. Now in the event of a disaster, rather than losing a whole day’s work, we’re just going to lose an hour.

“Another key benefit to the business is that we’ve been able to introduce email archiving and that’s as a direct result of having the capacity to do so on the SAN,” explained Navtej Bains.

“The HP LeftHand SAN has significantly increased our storage capacity and scalability and provided us with a robust network. The fact that it works so seamlessly with VMware is a huge benefit. “From an end user perspective, they will have noticed that network performance has significantly improved as applications are running faster now that the network is running so efficiently. This is made possible thanks to VMotion. If the server starts to struggle, it’ll just move to another box that is not being utilised so much.

“telent made the whole deployment process pain free and delivered within our required timeframe and budget. In the past we have used many third party partners to support our IT and I consider telent to be one of the better partners we have used. I can’t say enough good things about them.”

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