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Brightcloud had Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) block access storage in place, but it was nearing end of life and managing its LUN structure was time-consuming and costly.
Brightcloud supports around 50 small to medium-sized (SME) customers from datacentres in Milton Keynes and London, with another at Croydon on the way. It runs around 1,000 virtual machines (VMs) for its customers.
Moving to Tintri has allowed it to move beyond the LUN-based block storage of its HDS arrays and save on datacentre rackspace and engineer salary.
“I wouldn’t want to bash HDS because the limitations we faced were those of a LUN-based system and the difficulties of managing those, which would be true of any traditional array,” said Andy Grover, technical operations director at Brightcloud.
“You need to be very technically competent to manage a SAN environment with a Fibre Channel network, LUNs and Raid groups. It can all be quite scary. With one command you can delete a LUN and lots of information and VMs.”
One time-consuming and awkward process was manually load-balancing the LUNs on the HDS arrays. Brightcloud had to plan to ensure this work could be carried out while not affecting customer workloads.
After evaluating traditional SAN, all-flash, hybrid flash and hyper-converged storage, Brightcloud opted for three Tintri T850 hybrid cloud boxes with around 30TB of capacity each, of which around 8TB is flash, one at each site.
Tintri made its name providing VM-aware storage that did away with LUNs and allowed admins to provision VM storage in formats native to the hypervisor in use.
Tintri supports VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Citrix Xen virtualisation platforms on its arrays and can support them all in a scale-out pool.
Read more about hybrid flash storage
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Grover said the company looked at all-flash and hybrid arrays, including HDS and Violin, but “these were still effectively old-school arrays with LUNs”.
Only Tintri and hyper-converged Nutanix on its shortlist allowed Brightcloud the potential to get away from traditional storage architecture. This has allowed Brightcloud to simplify its storage operations condiderably, said Grover.
“You present Tintri to the VMware environment and the virtualisation guys use it without having to know anything about it,” he said. “The software deals with load balancing and no one VM consumes all the IOPS.”
Grover said moving to Tintri had shrunk the one-and-a-half racks used for the HDS down to 4U, which, with savings of £1,400 a month in two datacentres, meant £33,600 per annum. The company has effectively saved the salary of one engineer at around £40,000 a year, added Grover.
Why did Grover’s team choose the hybrid flash Tintri over hyper-converged infrastructure, which has surged in prominence in the datacentre hardware market?
“At the time, we were working with some customers with heavy storage requirements and back then you couldn’t just add storage to Nutanix. It’s not the case now, so hyper-converged is more in the frame for us in the future,” he said.