An Interview with Rob Rhodes, Acentia
Technology Solutions for Federal/Commercial Market
- Many very large projects
- VMware environment
- SharePoint/Exchange users
- Consolidation and integration of company acquisitions
- Scale for rapid growth
- Reduce storage costs
- Manage with existing staff
- Saved over $50K compared to other solutions
- Retire existing SAN
- Eliminating tapes saving 6 hours per week
- Reduce costs with cloud storage
Benefits of Using StorSimple
- One box for primary, archive, backup and disaster recovery
- Simplified management
- Disaster recovery for first time
- Ability to scale for growth
Acentia is a fast-growing provider of technology solutions to the Federal Government. The company is experiencing rapid organic growth and is also growing through acquisitions. Acentia’s IT organization supports the internal infrastructure and applications that it needs to meet the demands of its Federal Government and related commercial enterprise customers.
Business and IT Challenges
Rob’s challenges are to help guide the company’s IT direction to support its growth—to consolidate and integrate the disparate systems resulting from recent acquisitions. With the rapid growth that Acentia has experienced and anticipates, Rob needs to ensure that any solutions he brings in will scale to support the company now and in the future.
Search for a Cloud Integrated Enterprise Storage Solution
Acentia had Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN as primary storage; however, it could no longer support the growing storage demands. It provided a single tier of storage, so all data was treated equally. Rob wanted to find a storage solution that could support the company’s demands, scale to support its growth, provide a much-needed disaster recovery capability, reduce costs, and be maintained without expanding the existing IT staff.
Based on his experience and knowledge of the industry, Rob knew which features he wanted in a storage solution: Tiered storage, de-duplication, disaster recovery, and integration with cloud storage to reduce costs. Integration with VMware and Acentia’s key Microsoft applications was essential. Given Rob’s criteria, his search quickly led him to StorSimple. It was the only solution with the capabilities he wanted that was certified by both VMware and Microsoft.
Vendor Certification and Application Support Critical
The fact that StorSimple is certified by VMware and Microsoft were critical factors in Rob’s decision to move forward. Being VMware ready meant that Rob knew the StorSimple appliance would integrate seamlessly into its VMware environment and be a fully-supported component of its end-to-end IT architecture. The VMware environment runs a range of Microsoft applications, such as File Servers, SharePoint, and Exchange.
SharePoint is an essential tool for Acentia employees. With a mobile workforce that supports large federal and commercial projects, SharePoint enables their collaborative efforts. However, scaling SharePoint can be challenging. Rob liked the SharePoint integration that StorSimple provides to deliver simple management and consistent performance for SharePoint at scale. StorSimple helps by externalizing the Binary Large Objects (BLOBs) and dramatically reducing storage capacity by up to 95 percent. Also, using auto-tiering and cloud-as-a-tier, the key metadata that is frequently accessed is maintained on the local SSD drives for fast access; however, the bulk of the data files are compressed, de-duplicated, and automatically tiered to the cloud for less expensive, long-term storage. StorSimple’s Cloud Snapshots simplify backups, while SharePoint Data Recovery Console software also provides fast and granular restores from cloud backups.
Views on the 3 Myths of Cloud Storage: Performance, Security, and Re-writing Applications
Rob was initially concerned that using cloud storage would require changes to the application. However, since Acentia was already using an iSCSI SAN, the StorSimple appliance would provide an identical interface while including access to cloud storage. In addition, knowing that StorSimple is VMware certified gave Rob the confidence that it is fully compatible with virtualized storage and applications throughout the datacenter.
Security is a serious issue for Acentia. The company works closely with the Federal Government; therefore, Acentia must ensure that all of its data and communications meet the security standards demanded by its customers. The fact that StorSimple encrypts data in-flight and at-rest was a contributing factor in Rob’s decision to select StorSimple.
Application performance, particularly as data is moved to the cloud, was initially a concern. It is important to Rob that his internal users get the performance that they have come to expect. With active data on solid state disks (SSDs) and the auto-tiering to the cloud, Rob’s users have not had any performance issues.
How StorSimple Helped Reduce IT Costs
In addition to providing Acentia with all of the capabilities that Rob wanted─an all-in-one solution for primary storage, archive, backup, and disaster recovery ─StorSimple was significantly less expensive than the alternatives considered. Acentia was able to retire its existing SAN storage system, as well as some stand-alone systems, and is eliminating tape backups.
“We saved over $50K by not having to purchase multiple
solutions, and we saved 6 hours per week by eliminating
Rob Rhodes, Director IT, Acentia
The biggest benefits, however, include: Simplified management without adding staff; the ability to scale to support growth; adding a disaster recovery capability across datacenters; and lowering costs by tiering non-critical data to the cloud rather than remaining on tier-1 storage.
“With StorSimple, I only had to purchase one appliance. I
didn't have to purchase multiple products for local storage, cloud storage, the movement of data between tiers, deduplication, or disaster recovery. The ability to grow dynamically, supporting cloud as a tier, and certification by both VMware and Microsoft, were critical factors for us.”
Rob Rhodes, Director IT, Acentia