Q&A with Omer Mushahwar, Senior Associate, Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc.


Welcome to NetApp 360! Let’s start with you telling our readers a bit about you and your company.

My name is Omer Mushahwar and I’m a senior associate with Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc.  We’re a global architecture, planning and urban design firm based in Silver Springs, Maryland.  For nearly sixty years, our design expertise has helped customers around the world implement a variety of architectural projects:  urban design and town planning; residential, mixed-use and neighborhood revitalization; and military housing projects.


What brought about Torti Gallas’ engagement with NetApp?

We recently assessed our data center and identified opportunities to transform the infrastructure into a more innovative, cost-effective environment.  We had 25 servers on direct-attached storage to support our business needs.  From the standpoint of data center and management costs, backup and recovery needs, and sup­porting our staff, our IT environment was highly inefficient and definitely needed to be overhauled. The firm also experienced periodic data center outages due to severe weather like extreme heat or intense thun­derstorms. These disruptions to business operations affected client service and were costing the firm up to $45,000 a day.


Our IT management team decided it was time to improve service levels, lower data center costs, ensure business continuity, and position the company for growth. Working closely with technology partner and IT solu­tions provider Presidio to investigate our options, the firm zeroed in on using a VMware virtualization model running on a FlexPod data storage solution. The combination would meet our virtual­ization and cost-efficiency goals, and also offer all the capabilities we would need for a scalable, agile, and secure enterprise.


What business and operational benefits has your new IT architecture delivered?

We immediately experienced significant improvements in our IT and operational efficiencies.  Thanks to the various components in our virtualized FlexPod data center solution, physical storage requirements have dropped from 10TB to 4TB and network bandwidth utilization is down by 70 percent.  While the previous direct-attached storage environment distributed file shares across different servers, the integrated FlexPod architecture now centralizes the firm’s architectural design, client billing, proposal and other important files, giving our teams one place to find the content they need to perform their jobs.  Furthermore, the IT staff can use NetApp’s Web-based My AutoSupport applications to monitor system health, proactively optimize performance and ensure system availability.


The FlexPod solution uses integrated disaster recover capabilities from NetApp, VMWare and Cisco which has allowed us to take a big step forward in business continuity.  Our converged IT infrastructure protects valuable business data, reduce risk, maintain availability and meet our 2-hour recovery point and 4-hour recovery time objectives.  A FlexPod solution in the company’s secondary data center stores a mirrored copy of our application and data, which the IT team can use to quickly recover in the event of a system, site or regional outage. The solution helps us avoid the $45,000 a day we were losing previously during network outages.  Should an outage occur, we’re now prepared to continue serving our clients and generate revenue without missing a beat.