Law firm cuts SQL query times and future-proofs with Tegile hybrid flash

Reading-based Boyes and Turner opts not to replace Dell EqualLogic SAN and brings in hybrid flash array from startup Tegile

Reading-based SME legal practice Boyes and Turner has replaced an ageing Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN with a Tegile hybrid flash array in a move that has seen response times on some SQL queries slashed from hours to minutes.

Boyes and Turner – which has 180 employees and a turnover of £16m – was in the process of upgrading core applications when it ran up against the limits of its EqualLogic storage.

As it added new modules to its practice management and document management systems, it reached the limits of capacity and performance on the SAN, which would not have coped with further IT and business expansion, said Tim Roche, the firm's head of IT.

“The EqualLogic SAN was five or six years old and had reached capacity,” he said. “It performed OK most of the time, but struggled with the practice management system and it was clear it would not cope with the demands of our infrastructure upgrade.

“We expected Dell to come in and offer an upgrade, but we found there was some confusion in terms of the products it offered and it just didn’t happen. So we looked around elsewhere.”

Roche’s team looked at NetApp’s FlexPod converged stacks with NetApp storage, Cisco servers and networking and VMware preconfigured, but decided it wasn’t for them.

“The FlexPod was quite attractive, but it was pricy and probably better for an organisation with four or five offices,” said Roche.

More on hybrid flash storage

He also evaluated Tegile arrays and eventually deployed HA2100 hybrid flash hardware with 16TB of flash (600GB) and nearline-SAS spinning disk plus DRAM cache.

Tegile controllers run a ZFS-based operating system (OS) adapted to provide data deduplication, compression, RAID enhancements and a performance-boosting feature called MASS (Metadata Accelerated Storage System).

MASS enables ingested data to be handled via just its metadata headers rather than the full copy, and these are kept in cache or the flash storage tier.

This allows Tegile to claim that it can provide enterprise-level capacity and performance at about 10% of the cost of some of the big six suppliers’ arrays.

Roche said the benefits have included efficient use of disk space with compression and dedupe, as well as hugely boosted access times that have benefited some applications, as well as generally boosting performance to support the firm’s expansion plans.

“We’re getting 70% data reduction from compression and data deduplication and much reduced latency,” said Roche. “SQL query times used to run to three or four hours, but are now down to minutes.”

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