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JWT slashes server estate in move to Ctera cloud appliances

Marketing agency deploys Ctera cloud-attached NAS for 10,000 employees to simplify IT infrastructure, cutting server count and slashing software and hardware costs

Media and marketing agency J Walter Thompson (JWT) has deployed Ctera cloud-attached enterprise file servers to offices worldwide in a move that has seen it cut hardware and software licence costs by around 30%.

JWT is a subsidiary of advertising giant WPP. It has 10,000 employees across 54 countries who need to access office productivity files and media publishing software.

The company had been running a traditional Windows-based server estate, with separate backup and archiving environments running Veritas BackupExec and Enterprise Vault, all mirrored to secondary sites.

The limitations to the existing systems were the sheer amount of work involved in ensuring they provided accurate mirroring, plus there was the cost involved, said IT director Ewan McSween.

“From an IT perspective, it was a lot to manage, with four or five lots of software, and hardware maintenance contracts,” he said.

After looking at enterprise cloud products Nasuni and Panzura, as well as replacement server and storage solutions, JWT settled on Ctera.

It has deployed cloud gateways and an HC1200 edge file server at its London office, eight C800s in its Middle East offices, three C400s and two C800s at three European offices, with more planned for deployment. Total capacity of the Ctera boxes amounts to several hundred terabytes.

Ctera edge file servers act like network-attached storage (NAS) boxes to allow user access to data, with policies that archive data to the Amazon cloud after a given time period, but leaving behind a stub to provide access.

“It kind of looks after itself,” said McSween. “We set policies and keep an eye on cloud costs, but we don’t have to police it intensively as we did previously.”

Key benefits for JWT are in cost savings and performance gains, he said.

“We have a ballpark figure of 30% cost savings on what we would have spent on multiple software vendors and hardware outlays. And in our London office we have saved space, from three full racks down to half a rack,” said McSween.

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