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Overland NAS storage gets cue at media firm, which dumps LaCie drives

Antony Adshead, UK Bureau Chief

NAS storage devices from Overland's SnapServer range have replaced LaCie NAS drives following costly failures at media monitoring and film trailer business Digital Media Services (DMS) UK. During the evaluation period DMS rejected NAS storage products from HP as too expensive before Overland won out on grounds of cost, scalability and ease of management.

DMS -- which implemented 60 TB of Overland SnapServer NAS storage during the project -- has two major business arms. One monitors broadcast and print media for clients, while the other manages and distributes film trailers globally for movie studios. The latter of these two business areas in particular requires large amounts of data storage for the retention of trailer movie files. The company is headquartered in Westminster and has a disaster recovery site in Victoria.

The company was managing approximately 15 TB of files on LaCie NAS drives, which it had bought and added to piecemeal as its data volumes had grown, when it was pressed to consider an upgrade due to reliability issues with the existing hardware, said IT manager Gavin Holmes.

"It was pretty clear that our old infrastructure was going to reach capacity very quickly, and we needed more storage for our critical data," he said. "We had in place a number of LaCie NAS drives. We had needed to add capacity and had gone down the road of adding these drives as we needed to expand. They were the cheapest way of doing it, or so we thought at the time.

HP tried to sell to us on the basis that we wouldn't need a second unit, but I don't think that would have been good for my heart rate.
Gavin Holmes
IT managerDMS UK

"But we had maintenance and stability issues with them," Holmes continued. "They failed quite a lot, with heat issues that would cause them to reboot randomly, and that would cost us money to recover data lost. They just aren't designed for constant data usage."

DMS opts for Overland SnapServer NAS storage

Following a short evaluation period in which DMS also considered HP NAS devices, the company purchased two Overland SnapServer 620s and two SnapServer Expansion S50s -- effectively JBODs -- from reseller Jungle IT.

Following expansions, DMS now has approximately 60 TB installed, split equally between the company's two sites with replication between the two carried out by Snap Enterprise Data Replicator. "Replicating data has already proved its usefulness," Holmes said. "We recently had an administrative error, which resulted in deletion of some data from the primary Overland device. All we had to do was recover the data from the disaster recovery site."

The SnapServer devices can accommodate SAS or SATA drives, but DMS decided that a large number of SATA disks would satisfy its need to retrieve infrequently accessed movie files. And while the system can support iSCSI, DMS is using it for NAS only.

The company opted for RAID 5, which has parity disk protection rather than mirroring. "We have a duplicate of all the data on the second device so we felt we didn't need the mirroring of other RAID levels," Holmes said.

HP NAS too costly

DMS also looked at NAS devices from HP; however, the firm was put off by the high cost of the base and expansion units, which would have amounted to around £6,000 a year, Holmes said.

"We also looked at HP, but the difference in cost was astronomical," he said. "HP tried to sell to us on the basis that we wouldn't need a second unit and that we could avoid the extra cost that way, but I don't think that would have been good for my heart rate."

The key benefits for DMS have been the ability to do away with its existing costly and unreliable LaCie devices, and to put in place a scalable set of products that will give years of expansion before an upgrade is needed.

"With the LaCie devices, we had to administer them separately as they weren't linked," Holmes said. "Overland is one big pot and automatically tells me when it's nearing capacity. We're saving 20 minutes a day not having to check space on separate NAS devices and have peace of mind that they will not fail."

Holmes is currently adding approximately 2 TB to each SnapServer per month. He estimates that even at the current rate it will be four years before a full upgrade to a new system is required.


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