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Canada ad firm subtracts 44U with HPE and Ctera hyper-converged

Glenn Davis Group slashed its hardware estate from 48U of rack space to 4U when it ditched its SAN and tape legacy kit for flash-based Ctera X Series and cloud backup

Toronto-based advertising visual production agency Glenn Davis Group (GDG) has consolidated 48U of rack space of on-premise compute and storage hardware to 4U of Ctera-Simplivity flash-based hyper-converged infrastructure with cloud and local storage.

The move to Ctera X Series appliances allowed the company – which has about 130 employees – to dispense with nearly 200TB of on-site EqualLogic storage hardware and to massively speed up and secure backup and restore processes.

GDG operates from only one location but supports freelance workers worldwide. About 70 staff mostly use Adobe Creative Cloud applications.

This had been run on Windows servers running on VMware with 172TB of Equallogic iSCSI storage, with Acronis File Connect to allow Mac connection to file storage.

Data protection comprised 21 days’ worth of Equallogic snapshots held locally and at the company’s ISP site, plus tape backup and archiving via Atempo to a Spectra Logic LTO-5 library.

GDG technology vice-president Kyle Edsall said there were many benefits to the existing setup, not least of which was the very cheap and infinite data retention capabilities of tape backup. The downside to that, however, was data restore times that could run into days or weeks.

Also, archiving to tape could severely impact tape backup if it was running, possibly for several days.

Edsall’s team evaluated storage products from NetApp, Panzura and Nasuni, but eventually settled on two HPE Simplivity hyper-converged in which Ctera Edge X Series handles data protection – via block-level changes – to local cache and the company’s cloud provider (Wasabi).

Hyper-converged bundles compute and storage into nodes that can be built into scale-out clusters, usually with a virtualisation hypervisor present. As in this case, hyper-converged allows consolidation of IT resources into a small footprint and makes management easier, which is a key benefit for SME-sized organisations.

Ctera’s X Series appliances combine HPE Simplivity hyper-converged infrastructure and Ctera’s Enterprise File Services Platform to provide inline deduplication, local high availability and asynchronous cloud replication.

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Ctera’s gateway caches hot data on-premise for fast access and tiers colder data to cheaper object storage in the cloud, all managed through a global file system.

Edsall said it was too early to give definite numbers on savings. “We just finished the install, so we don’t have any stats, but we expect to save money by not having to invest in on-site storage hardware that will just lose value eventually,” he said.

“But what I can say is that the IT team are now a lot more confident that they can roll back, as well as restore, individual files. Also, users can restore individual files without needing to submit an IT ticket.

“A big advantage is that we now don’t have 48U of gear to support. All those separate workflows that we had to maintain are gone.”

Edsall also highlighted the ability to provide web-style access to files to staff and customers to allow for sharing in workflows.

A key feature that he is looking forward to in Ctera is the ability to allow Mac users to subscribe to a workflow and to update it for local use without having to access all the content remotely every time. “With everyone on home internet, I can’t overstate the value of that,” he said.

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