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NHS trust cuts costs and refresh cycle with Wasabi cloud storage

Imperial College NHS Trust expects to saves 30% in storage costs and cut back on five-year refresh headaches in a move that has seen backup and archive data move to the Wasabi cloud

Imperial College NHS Trust has broken reliance on on-prem storage and moved a big chunk of its capacity to Wasabi’s cloud object and file storage. The move is expected to cut storage costs by 30% and reduce painful refresh cycles and ongoing maintenance overheads.

The trust deals with more than one million patient contacts a year and is one of the largest acute trusts in the country. It had been locked into a five-year storage infrastructure hardware upgrade cycle, which had seen it move through HP, EMC and Huawei storage for the multiple petabytes of data it keeps.

“Every five years, we went through a storage refresh, with capacity doubling every year,” said technical architect Yusuf Mangera. “But you’d find yourself in year three or four having to buy TBs of capacity that would just last a year. It doesn’t make sense.

“Everyone started talking about cloud, but we stayed away from it for some time. It introduces a revenue-based model of paying for storage, and being in the public sector, we have been mostly capital spend-based. So we stayed away until we had more appropriate financial structures in place.”

With ongoing digitisation of information and data volumes expanding by 2x every year, the scalability offered by the cloud began to make more sense, especially for secondary data such as backups and archives, where migration between platforms during upgrades means moving relatively unaccessed data from one platform to another.

Wasabi was selected as a cloud storage supplier, largely because of its lack of egress costs and price points that were “significantly lower” than other suppliers, according to Mangera. He also pointed to Wasabi’s connectivity to S3 object storage and SMB file protocols.

A big advantage, said Mangera, is that the pain of upgrade cycles is reduced. “Not having to refresh every five years is a benefit,” he added.

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Imperial College NHS Trust has about 4PB of production data on-site and about 4PB archived on-prem too. With what is held in the Wasabi cloud, that makes about 15PB. On-site, the trust runs HPE 3PAR and Huawei 18000 SAN storage, Qumulo file storage, Tintri for virtual servers and desktops and Commvault HyperScale X backup appliances.

Data classification and migration to the cloud is an ongoing project, said Mangera, with about 15-20% of data likely to remain on-site.

Significant benefits of the shift to the cloud include smoothing out backup and archiving processes. Previously, backup would become more onerous as the equipment cycle proceeded due to backup volumes increasing and infrastructure gradually being run towards capacity. Now it has been rationalised, with copies for rapid restore being held on-site, and in the cloud in case of total site failure.

Longer-term retention that previously went to tape is now staged off to the cloud. On-site storage for backups is handled by Commvault HyperScale X software-defined data protection appliances running on HPE hardware. It is staged off to the Wasabi cloud via a 10Gbps WAN connection.

When it comes to quantifying benefits, Mangera said: “ROI [return on investment] will not be visible for the next 12 months, but we expect it to be significant, taking into account the reduction in staff time and resources, and licence and support costs. We are looking at 30% savings by year two and year three.”

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