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Ad agency slashes NetApp costs with Datadobi data migration

US-based branding agency needed to migrate 20TB of large files to new NetApp hardware, but unwilling to stomach the vendor’s migration costs it chose Datadobi instead

New York-based branding and design agency CBX has migrated 20TB (terabytes) of data from end-of-life NetApp storage to new hardware from the same supplier using Datadobi migration tools.

The migration accounted for about half of the entire storage upgrade cost, but Datadobi cost much less than the “six figures” asked for by NetApp.

CBX has worked with brands that include BP, Bayer, Disney, P&G, Lidl, Walmart and Starbucks. It has 70 employees across two locations in New York and Minneapolis, and most of its IT requirements centre on large graphics, image and video files using the Adobe suite, including Photoshop and Illustrator.

By 2020, it had reached end-of-life with its existing seven-mode OnTap operating system NetApp hardware, so no additional firmware, patches or upgrades would be available and warranty support was due to come to an end.

CBX decided to stick with NetApp storage, but that meant the upgrade would need to be to the latest version of OnTap, requiring the migration of around 20TB with no disruption to the business.

At each location, 30TB of raw NetApp storage on SAS spinning disk-equipped FAS 2720 filers running the latest OnTap operating system was deployed.

CBX IT manager Don Piraino said his main concern was that the data would be moving from one operating system to another, albeit both being versions of NetApp’s OnTap and both accessed via SMB/NFS.

“There are no VMs [virtual machines] and no SAN [storage area network], so it was pretty vanilla,” said Piraino. “But OnTap was completely new for me so there was a certain level of concern. We wanted to be absolutely sure about data integrity and keep data available and online during the whole process.”

Initially, Piraino’s team looked to NetApp to effect the migration, but the storage supplier wanted to charge “six figures” for that, so CBX looked elsewhere and eventually chose Datadobi’s DobiMigrate, which came in at “one-third” the cost of the NetApp quote.

The DobiMigrate licence cost was based on the capacity moved and the process was straightforward, said Piraino.

“You install it, run it and the core engine manages the entire process. Proxy servers are installed that do the heavy lifting,” he said. “They identify the data volumes and you set source and target locations. You can also throttle data movement to make best use of quiet times on the network.”

First, data was moved to the new storage in Minneapolis, then New York. NetApp’s SnapMirror replication was then set up between them and the cutover to the new systems took place. The whole process took two months.

Piraino said he hadn’t worked out benefits in terms of numbers, but the Datadobi solution had cost a lot less than the service NetApp had offered. Despite that, the cost of migration had come in at half of the entire cost of the storage upgrade.

The cost of Datadobi also included support and a member of staff assigned to the project, which was a key benefit for Piraino.

“I felt really strongly that the assistance received and to get that bit of extra help to make sure everything went right was invaluable,” he said. “This is a one-shot thing every seven years, and having someone there making sure things go right is worth a lot for not much extra cost.”

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