An Interview with Gus Chavira, BMC Software
- Solutions Company
- $2 Billion in revenue
- 6,000 employees
- Over 600 VMware ESX servers
- VM sprawl – managing over 13,000 VMware images
- Big enough backup window for all VM images
- Existing data-center near capacity
- Backup & disaster recovery for remote offices
- VMWare Ready Cloud-Tier for for online archive of VM images with instant access when needed
- Storage capacity on demand from the cloud to off-load and extend life of current data-center
- Simplified Cloud Snapshot based data-protection that addresses backup window challenges
- Disaster recovery and backup for remote sales office
Enterprise Cloud Storage
- Multiple layers of encryption & security - deduplication, compression, data-in-motion encryption (SSL), data-at-rest encryption (AES-256), keys only stored with the customer
- High-Availability, No Single Points of Failure & No down-time for maintenance due to non-disruptive software upgrades
- iSCSI primary storage certification from VMWare & Microsoft for seamless deployment
- Mitigate the need to build a new data-center by offloading VM storage to the cloud
- Cost avoidance: A new SAN for disaster recovery would have been 5X the cost of StorSimple solution
- Re-purpose existing SAN from the remote office for other enterprise applications
- Ability to restore data from off-site backups in minutes instead of days
- Simplified remote management
- Integrated storage – primary, archival, backup, off-site backup to the cloud
- Simple to use and manage
- Lowest cost enterprise-class alternative
- Cost-efficient disaster recovery
- Cloud-as-a-Tier can be used for some strategic business needs
- Need to pick solutions that optimize I/O to the cloud
Founded in 1980, BMC Software is a $2 billion software company. BMC is a leader in Business Service Management software and solutions.
Gus Chavira, Enterprise Architect, is ITIL Certified, a VMware Certified Professional and a vExpert. His responsibilities include directing BMC’s virtualization strategy and support for their software development factory along with internal support systems.
Initial application for cloud-integrated enterprise storage
BMC has a large number of VMware images – over 13,000 VMs and templates and that number continues to grow. The majority of these VMs don’t need to be on expensive storage but they all need to be online. The sheer volume of VMs makes full backups challenging. In addition, the existing data center was nearing capacity on power and cooling. BMC has started using the cloud data-center best practice of increasing the operating temperature of the data-center.
Gus considered options such as purchasing additional SAN storage, storage tiering, or other archiving solutions, but each would have required more data-center power and cooling capacity. Using VMware DRS for Storage in vSphere 5, Gus was able to set up storage pools consisting of his existing SAN and a cloud-tier based on StorSimple. vSphere seamlessly moved the VMs between the storage pools based on defined policies. The StorSimple solution allows BMC to maintain some on-premise storage while pushing most of the data out to the cloud. The StorSimple appliance determines what VM data is “hot” and what can be automatically tiered to the cloud and off-loaded from the data-center. This frees up valuable resources mitigating the need to build a new datacenter. At the same time, StorSimple provides integrated backup and disaster recovery that is much simpler than existing processes and at a fraction of the cost. With StorSimple Cloud Snapshots and Cloud Clones, fast, efficient off-site backups with real-time restores became viable options for large volumes of VM images.
Additional applications for StorSimple
After implementing the StorSimple appliance for the VMware images, Gus realized that it would be an ideal solution for their remote sales offices. He saw the opportunity to improve their storage capabilities and to significantly reduce restore times with StorSimple.
Particularly at the end of a quarter, it was critical to have the sales data available and quickly available in a DR scenario. The traditional approach considered would have entailed mirroring the existing SAN in one of the sales office locations and building out an additional SAN in another sales office. By installing a StorSimple appliance in each of two offices, it would provide them with primary storage, archive, backup and disaster recovery at a fraction of the cost. Using Cloud Clones, they would have data available at the DR site in minutes. In contrast, when using off-site tape storage, shipping tapes from off-site storage and restoring the data could take up to five (5) days. In addition, the one box approach made remote management much simpler and would limit their need for on-site administration.
“StorSimple gave us the ability to restore data from off-site backups in minutes rather than 5 days.”
Technical challenges and concerns
Initially, Gus was concerned about security and having data stored on a public cloud. The features of StorSimple’s product to encrypt data both in transit and at rest, combined with compression and de-duplication, were an important factor in gaining confidence that the data was secure. In addition, Gus had expected that they would need to make changes in the WAN infrastructure such as firewall rules and policies. Gus was pleasantly surprised that StorSimple supported secure HTTPS connections and provided encryption, so BMC’s data was secured without having to implement any additional network security.
How StorSimple helped reduce IT costs
Implementing StorSimple has deferred or reduced planned purchases. It is allowing BMC to do more with the existing data-center. In the remote sales offices, the StorSimple solution eliminated the purchase of additional SAN infrastructure including replication and backup. With de-duplication and compression along with tiering to the cloud, the storage footprint was reduced to a 2U system in each location, with a realized saving in power and cooling as well. Also, the existing SAN can be re-purposed for other applications, thereby deferring incremental storage purchases.
There are also operational savings and benefits that Gus has realized from StorSimple, such as manpower savings from not having to maintain a SAN infrastructure at remote sites. Being able to deploy a very simple-to-use device like StorSimple and be able to manage it remotely is a big deal to Gus, minimizing the need for manpower on-premise in the remote sites, leading to substantial savings.
“BMC realized a 5X savings, in capital expenses, over a conventional SAN”
Choosing the StorSimple solution
Gus chose StorSimple because of StorSimple’s industry leadership position in hybrid cloud storage. When he did his research, everything pointed to StorSimple being the best company and having the most powerful technology behind the product. Gus was very impressed with the product during testing and deployment, noting that it met or exceeded every expectation.
Recommendations to others looking to move to cloud storage
Gus recommends you recognize that everything does not need to move to the cloud. You need to consider what strategic pieces of the business can you align with the cloud-as-a-tier.
Other lessons learned
Most cloud providers charge you for pulling data out. Gus was concerned that they would be charged large fees for accessing data to populate the DR site. He discovered that StorSimple retrieves only a fraction of a volume (metadata) during the DR sync operation and not the full volume, thereby minimizing data access charges. StorSimple only retrieves blocks of data that are required when accessed. This is a much more efficient model and reduces recovery time and costs.
“With StorSimple, it’s very transparent that your data is in the cloud.”