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    The Cigalah Group Streamlines Services with Huawei OceanStor All-Flash Storage

Saudi Arabia's Cigalah Group boasts an extensive portfolio of companies that operate across the country and wider region.

Saudi Arabia's Cigalah Group boasts an extensive portfolio of companies that operate across the country and wider region. Founded in 1980, it was initially set up as a marketing, sales, and distribution company, first achieving success in Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). Since then, it has expanded into other industries, from pharmaceuticals and healthcare, to watches, jewelry, textiles, and food production and packaging.

Cigalah's success is attributable to its unwavering focus on customer satisfaction and a commitment to delivering the highest-quality products to consumers. Achieving this goal across such a diverse network of businesses depends on powerful Information Technology (IT) infrastructure, of course. And with growing operations, Cigalah's data volumes grew too, rendering legacy systems unable to cope.

Overwhelming Service Growth

Cigalah runs its IT operations from a primary data center located in Jeddah, the second largest city and commercial center of Saudi Arabia. Its legacy architecture was comprised of servers, whose local disks housed application system data, and various models of legacy storage devices. Although this infrastructure had served the group well for many years, it could no longer support the performance, capacity, and reliability requirements of diverse new services and applications. In addition, device management was becoming more and more complicated, placing added pressure on the IT team.

"We're running more and more applications now, including database management, warehouse management, and data analysis applications. This makes our IT environment very complicated, expensive, and time-consuming, which is a big problem since we run multiple time-sensitive and mission-critical services across our companies," said Hussam Olayyan, Cigalah's IT Department Head.

Not only was complex infrastructure hindering the group's pursuit of efficiency, it was also preventing it from obtaining instant data insights, a crucial measure of competitiveness in FMCG.

"In order to track the performance of each company, we generate regular sales reports, which our management teams rely on to make business decisions and better serve our customers. But it was taking up to 5 min to generate one report, which was wasting time and putting us behind," Olayyan added.

Indeed, Cigalah knew that to maintain its position as a market leader across its many business areas, it needed to upgrade its infrastructure. Especially since its expansion plans were only picking up pace.

Securing Competitiveness and Slashing Costs

Given the complex nature of the organization's operations, its new storage solution needed to deliver a number of improvements. First, it had to enhance performance and reliability to guarantee fast, accessible services across all of Cigalah's companies. Next, it needed to offer large storage capacity that could also be scaled in line with business growth. And, crucially, it had to simplify the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of multiple devices and services for its IT teams. Ultimately, Cigalah hoped to boost overall efficiency, while reducing power consumption, floor space, and equipment spend.

"For an organization the size of the Cigalah Group, reducing IT investment can make a huge difference to the profitability of our companies. But this is a careful balancing act. While we wanted to minimize spending, we couldn't afford to compromise on performance," Olayyan explained.

In response to the group's needs, Huawei tailored a solution including Huawei OceanStor Dorado all-flash storage and a centralized storage platform. The organization deployed all-flash arrays in its Jeddah-based data center, delivering a significant performance boost. A storage latency of less than 1 ms means that Cigalah no longer has to worry about service delays, even after additional features are enabled. In addition, the solution takes extra snapshots and clones for mission-critical services, allowing for rapid recovery from minor faults. This enables access to uninterrupted services that are always worry-free.

Indeed, Cigalah knew that to maintain its position as a market leader across its many business areas, it needed to upgrade its infrastructure. Especially since its expansion plans were only picking up pace.

Meanwhile, the centralized storage platform consolidates resources and simplifies overall planning, management, and maintenance. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy to manage faults, reports, permissions, and alarms as well as share files between different locations. This boost in efficiency is now helping the organization save both time and money.

Of course, one of Cigalah's key requirements was the ability to easily expand storage capacity. Scaling out to a maximum of 16 controllers, 12 TB of cache, and 2400 disks, Huawei OceanStor Dorado provides more than enough storage space, anticipating the group's future data growth.

"We were impressed with Huawei OceanStor Dorado storage as it meets all of our needs, now and in the near future," Olayyan said. "It supports advanced data backup and Disaster Recovery (DR) technologies to ensure safe and smooth operations of data services. In addition, it's easy to use. What I like the most is the all-flash memory series, which brings extremely high performance, providing high quality support throughout our businesses."

Preparing for a Data-Driven Future

With its new storage solution firmly in place, the Cigalah Group and its companies are enjoying fast, uninterrupted access to the data and applications they rely on. Besides improving service delivery across numerous sectors, this also boosts its competitiveness, helping it fulfil its customer-oriented goals. Now, it takes only 20s to generate a sales report, arming its management teams with near-real-time insights into business performance.

"Huawei's all-flash storage solution has proven to be a very good investment. Since deployment, we have seen a big improvement in storage performance, which is making a positive difference across our companies. We've also seen a huge reduction in our hardware footprint and power consumption, which helps us deliver on our promise of providing excellent, timely products and services," Olayyan concluded.

And the Cigalah Group isn't stopping there. In order to prepare for yet more growth and better protect its data assets, it's planning to construct a DR site in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, nearly 850 km away from Jeddah. Together with its new storage infrastructure, this will put the group in pole position to succeed in the digital era and do what it does best: satisfy its customers.