The E.ON Group® is the world’s largest private investor-owned power and gas company with facilities across Europe, Russia, and North America. E.ON plays a leading role in the development of the renewable energy industry worldwide and has invested 7 billion Euros in renewable generation projects in the last five years.
Headquartered in Düsseldorf, the E.ON Climate & Renewables (EC&R) division is responsible for the global renewable activities. They currently operate over 4 GW of renewable capacity and will invest 7 billion Euros in renewables in the next five years. Today, E.ON is active in generating energy from onshore and offshore wind, biomass, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power.
Uwe Fischer, Head of Asset Information Systems at EC&R, is tasked with delivering high availability to over 100 remote, renewable energy facilities across Europe. High storage acquisition and management costs, complex solutions and a lack of flexibility are just a few of the challenges Uwe faces trying to achieve high availability at E.ON’s remote sites. These challenges are amplified substantially by the isolated nature of E.ON’s renewable facilities. The locations include unmanned wind farms out at sea as well as biomass plants and solar farms located in very remote, rural areas.
”Potential downtime can take as long as 6 days to resolve because it requires locally-based IT in the effected country to acquire spares and travel to our remote facilities”, notes Uwe. “We needed to find the right solution to progressively manage our remote sites effectively and achieve high availability”.
Achieving high availability at an expense
Uwe considered traditional physical shared storage solutions initially, however the acquisition and maintenance costs were astronomical. “High availability is essential for us to maintain continuity of operations at our remote sites”, explains Uwe. “However the extreme location challenges we face mean that physical shared storage solutions are prohibitively expensive for us to implement”.
Although physical SAN solutions would enable VMware® high availability, the technology is a single point of failure in each facility’s infrastructure. If their storage went offline, it would result in downtime of the facility and E.ON would need to deploy IT resources to travel on site for resolution.
Searching for a centrally managed shared storage solution
E.ON needed to find a cost effective solution to leverage from the central office and not incur significant downtime issues. The deployment and management of each site needed to be a simple task. In addition, Uwe and his team needed to meet performance requirements in order to manage the workload of energy production applications.
Finding the right flexible and cost-effective VSA solution
At this crucial point, Uwe was introduced to StorMagic’s SvSAN solution by StorMagic partner Joachim Stainczyk at Stainczyk & Partner GmbH. Unlike other solutions, SvSAN provided E.ON with the much needed shared storage for high availability. Plus, the unique flexibility and simplicity of the SvSAN solution met Uwe’s requirements to ensure rapid deployment and management of shared storage at each location.
Joachim developed and implemented the proof of concept for E.ON and supported the remote rollout of SvSAN at each location. Joachim ensured the implementations did not involve any downtime or disruptions to service.
“StorMagic’s SvSAN enables us to cost effectively implement simple, 2-server highly available systems with minimal hardware requirements”, explains Uwe. “With VMware® and SvSAN at each location, we dramatically reduce the risk of downtime for energy-production applications and eliminate the need for on site support”.
With SvSAN deployed, Uwe finally has the cost effective and flexible shared storage solution he needs to centrally manage E.ON’s remote sites. E.ON achieved VMware high availability at a fraction of the anticipated acquisition and management costs. SvSAN’s user-friendly design and vCenter integration enable E.ON to deploy and manage shared storage at each location quickly and easily from the central office. In addition, it is no longer necessary to have any IT staff physically located at each facility.
High availability and no single point of failure ensure these facilities are fully protected against potential downtime. Now Uwe and the EC&R team have the continuity required for renewable energy production.