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NHS trust dumps SANs for Tintri VM-aware storage

Move to Tintri hybrid flash VM-aware storage allows Imperial College trust to redeploy HPE 3PAR SAN storage and cut storage admin and trouble-shooting to almost zero

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has deployed Tintri hybrid flash VM-aware storage arrays across three sites. The move has allowed it to cut storage admin times to almost zero and redeploy existing HPE 3PAR SAN storage away from critical workloads.

The London-based trust employs about 10,000 people and runs a core Microsoft applications stack plus around 600 bespoke clinical applications. These are mostly delivered by VMware via about 1,500 virtual machines, although there is also a small percentage of Microsoft Hyper-V VMs.

The trust had relied entirely on 3PAR Fibre Channel SANs for storage, but these had reached capacity and, as part of a virtualisation project, it went out to find a replacement.

Technical architect Yusuf Mangera said: “The 3PARs were very good but with the amount of virtualisation, we were running short of space. We had to expand or change systems.”

The key limitation was the cost of expanding capacity with the existing hardware, said Mangera.

“A small amount of storage added would incur a huge upfront cost,” he said. “Also, to maintain the storage, a large number of admins were needed to tune it. Sometimes the cost per TB of storage outweighed the cost of a small project itself.”

Mangera’s team evaluated flash arrays from Nimble Storage, Violin and Whiptail. The last two were rejected due to high cost, while Nimble was considered a newcomer at the time.

Although relatively new to market then also, Tintri was attractive because it offered VM-aware storage, which replaces the traditional storage LUN with volumes native to the virtualisation platform in use.

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The trust deployed three Tintri T850 arrays with about 34TB of usable capacity on each. These were deployed on three sites across the trust and have since been connected to allow replication between them for data protection.

About 5TB of capacity is on flash drives and connectivity is via Ethernet.

The 3PAR arrays have been retained to allow raw device mapping for the trust’s SQL Server assets.

Key benefits of the Tintri implementation for Mangera were ease of deployment and storage admin time saved since.

“It took 15 minutes to set up Tintri and migration was just a case of Storage vMotion, so not long,” he said. “Since then, admin time has been non-existent. There’s been no fine grain tuning or troubleshooting. We’ve had one disk failure in three years and one controller failure, but no downtime.”

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