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Thales Alenia Space

Thales Alenia Space takes control of their project data.

The Case

Mr Serge Gonzalez, Datacentre Operation Governance Manager, is in charge of the datacentre operations, storage management and operational maintenance of servers and applications. He oversees the operations in two data centres spanning over 20 hosts, with a total capacity of 60TB and with more than 6,000 users accessing the data.

Tackling the challenges

The business at Thales Alenia Space is largely driven by projects and the data needs to be saved and kept accessible for an extended period of time. This is a very common scenario within the aerospace and defence industry where retention rates sometimes are as long as seventy years. When asked about how Thales tackles this problem Mr. Gonzalez says: ”The fact that we need to keep the data for a long time is a big challenge for us. For some programs we need to keep the data for multiple decades. To do this efficiently we archive the data outside of primary storage and it’s crucial that it contains only necessary data. Once it’s archived we can not clean it anymore.”

Excessive growth rate is also a concern at Thales, especially considering the data intensive nature of the aerospace and defence industry. The average growth rate for the industry is around 35% year-over-year, with some studies suggesting that between 50% and 60% not being uncommon. Most of this growth can be contributed to unstructured, user-generated data. With IT budgets getting tighter, taking control and lowering the data growth is crucial. As Serge Gonzalez puts it: “Slowing the growth of user-generated data just a little bit means big savings over time.”

In addition to clean-up efforts, Thales needs some kind of boundaries to the storage. A limitless storage environment will not only be extremely expensive but a lack of control may lead to over-utilization and an unstable infrastructure. Planning for new hardware would be difficult, and that in turn could mean that the IT environment isn’t ready in time and could jeopardize or block new projects.

Making it happen

Thales Alenia Space has been using Northern Storage Suite [NSS] to control its user-generated data for more than eight years.

Today NSS is helping Thales to allocate storage by using disk quota on projects and sub-projects. Mr. Gonzalez explains that ”the quota size is negotiated for the individual project, and a size upgrade is only allowed after the user has made an effort to clean up the space”. He continues: ”Storage without boundaries would not be manageable in terms of costs.”

The quota creation is integrated into Thales’ own management tool and this centralized administration reduces the management cost and streamlines workflows.

The disk quotas are also used as a basis for usage reporting, both on individual projects and on a volume level. Mr. Gonzalez is currently looking to expand the use of Northern Storage Suite’s reporting functionality in order to get a deeper insight into how the storage is actually being used. This increased understanding of the storage usage can be used by the IT department for justification and planning purposes, but also distributed to the share owners, helping them to further reduce their storage foot-print by making sure only the relevant information is kept.


After having used Northern Storage Suite for over eight years, Thales Alenia Space has measured an astonishingly low growth rate of 10% year-over-year. This is helping the IT department to stay within budget and to better anticipate disk usage, which means they can plan for future hardware investments with more accuracy.

Additionally, having a system of control in place has led to a change in the user behaviour. Mr Gonzalez describes it like this: ”Seeing that there are limits to what they’re allowed to save, both project owners and users are more cautious of what they use their storage space for, resulting in a cleaner and more easily manageable environment.” It’s easy for Mr. Gonzalez to see, and measure, the value that Northern Storage Suite has brought to Thales and when asked if he would recommend NSS to other organizations he says: “Most definitely, especially to any organization that needs to manage large projects, consuming a lot of storage space, that needs to be kept for a long time.”

About the Company

Thales Alenia Space [Thales], part of the Thales group, is an aerospaceand defence company working with the most high-performance satellite technologies in both civil and defence sectors. The company has 7,500 employees in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany and the United States, and posted total revenues of 2.1 billion Euros in 2011.

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