AFTAs 2018: Best Infrastructure Initiative—Northern Trust

Sanjeev Khati (Tata Consultancy Services) and Northern Trust’s Valerie Pavlov and Demetri Mouratis

Data retention and backups are crucial to operations of financial institutions, particularly if they are global, highly diversified and regulated in nature. One such example is Chicago-headquartered Northern Trust, a financial services company that serves corporations, institutional investors and high-net worth individuals, and has offices in 20 countries. 

It invested in a secondary storage platform based on emerging hyper-converged technology— a software-defined IT infrastructure that virtualizes all the elements of conventional hardware-defined systems—allowing it to leverage the backup data on the device for DevOps and analytics, of which the latter particularly helps with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) use-cases. It is thanks to the Cohesity secondary storage solution that Northern Trust bags the best infrastructure initiative award at the 2018 AFTAs. 

Valerie Pavlov, manager of enterprise storage and backup organization at Northern Trust, says one challenge the firm faced that Cohesity helped with was the complexity of the backup infrastructure involving solutions from multiple vendors. This is coupled with operational challenges related to the support of the environment, as well as long backup and restore times for large datasets. She adds that Northern Trust uses the pattern finder on the backup data for GDPR, which enables it to interrogate backup data residing on the Cohesity platform without needing an additional load on the production environment. “We are also looking forward to leveraging the ability of Cohesity to instantly recover and mount or clone backup data for testing and development purposes,” she says.

Since Northern Trust successfully implemented the Nutanix hyper-converged solution for its primary workload, Pavlov says the firm decided to explore the same architecture for its backup and secondary data storage environments. It used Cohesity’s native integration with NetApp and VMWare—solutions that allow for a server-to-storage virtualized infrastructure—to optimize its backup and restore processes. She says efficiency features like global deduplication, which is a specialized data compression technique that eliminates duplicate copies of repeating data, enabled Northern Trust to make the most out of its investment. 

This year, Northern Trust will be deploying Active Directory integration, SQL server agent and cloud integration for long-term and archive storage. “Additionally, we are looking to more aggressively leverage Cohesity for our non-production workloads,” Pavlov says.

As hyper-converged infrastructure grows in popularity, Pavlov sees a trend for tighter integration with software solutions, support for containers, cloud integration for disaster recovery, and the ability of hyper-converged solutions to support the hybrid cloud approach. 

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