Non-profit organization for independent artists
- Annual Film Festival hosting 40,000 visitors each year
- Business Challenges
- Challenges with addressing storage growth and management
- Scale for peaks of seasonal storage demands
- Rapid growth of HD videos
- One box for primary, archive, backup and disaster recovery
- Backup and disaster recovery in the cloud
- Media archives migrated to cloud
- SharePoint, Exchange and VMware applications support
- Cut acquisition costs by 80%
- Saved ½ storage admin by leveraging StorSimple CloudSnaps for data protection
Security, Performance and Rewriting Applications
- Security - data-in-motion encryption (SSL), data-at-rest encryption (AES)
- Performance – Even better than expected
- Rewrite Applications –Not required
- Simple and easy
- De-duplication and auto-tiering to cloud storage
- VMware and Microsoft certified
- Eliminate disk backups
Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences, among its year round program offerings is the annual Sundance Film Festival.
Scott Wibirt, Senior Director of Technology Services, leads the IT team the Sundance Institute, which was faced with growing storage demands and seasonal swings that more than doubled its staff and the load on its existing infrastructure. Justin Simmons, Associate Director of Technology Services, and Rebecca Gaster, Systems Administrator, manage the Sundance Institute’s infrastructure including storage.
Sundance Institute was in need of more storage capacity and the IT team was challenged trying to keep up with backing up the existing storage. Compounding this was the annual Sundance Film Festival during which the staff doubles, storage needs become much greater, and festival logistics ramp-up to support the 40,000 attendees. For those few months every year, the small IT staff needs to scale to support a very large user community and the increased demands for storage. Scott, Justin and Rebecca knew that they needed a better way to manage storage.
Sundance Institute had an existing storage area network (SAN) and direct attached storage (DAS) supporting their key Microsoft applications (SharePoint, Exchange and Windows file shares) where the bulk of their data was stored. To provide flexibility and manageability, most of the servers were virtualized using either VMware or XenServer.
During the Sundance Film Festival period, storage demands increase significantly, as does the pace of activity. Over the past few years, the growing use of high-definition video has radically increased the amount of storage needed for media. The IT team knew that they would need to have a better solution in place before the next Sundance Film Festival.
The StorSimple Solution
Justin Simmons, Associate Director of Technology Services, led the search for a solution to Sundance Institute’s storage challenges. Rather than size their entire infrastructure to support the peak demands during the Sundance Film Festival, Justin considered a software-as-a-service, pay-as-you-go model, leveraging cloud storage to help them scale without massive investments. He wanted to find a solution providing on-premise storage, de-duplication to reduce their total capacity requirements and using cloud storage – to provide the scale to support peak demands as well as lower storage costs. When Justin found that StorSimple could provide all of these capabilities in one box, he knew that it would be an ideal solution and a huge timesaver.
Sundance Institute moved all of its primary storage and file shares to the StorSimple appliance as well as its press and historical media archives. There was an immediate impact just from de-duplication. “In fact, we’re seeing bigger benefits from de-deduplication than we were expecting,” said Justin. “We no longer need to do backups now that it all backs up straight to the cloud. And, we freed up a lot of storage in the datacenter by moving the archives to the cloud as well.” In addition, Sundance Institute had previously relied on disk-to-disk backups, with no off-site storage. Now the cloud provides a secure off-site storage and has eliminated the tedious efforts required for the disk-based backups.
“StorSimple allows us to take the public cloud, secure it and use it like private storage.”
Associate Director of Technology Services, Sundance Institute
View on the 3 Myths of Cloud Storage: Performance; Security; Re-writing Applications
The security of data residing in a public cloud was a concern for the IT team. Much of the data that is stored on the StorSimple appliance is confidential and access must be restricted. The fact that StorSimple encrypts data in-flight and at-rest, with encryption keys maintained solely with Sundance Institute satisfied them that the data would be secure.
Application performance and the response time for customers accessing the media archives, stored in the cloud, were significant concerns for Justin and Rebecca. The testing of the StorSimple appliance quickly put that concern to rest. The use of SSD and SAS for frequently accessed data provided even better performance than they had expected and the fact that StorSimple only needs to download the metadata to begin accessing files made retrieval from the cloud much more efficient. The testing gave the team the confidence to put their archived media, accessible directly from Sundance Institute’s website (http://history.sundance.org) on the StorSimple appliance.
“The ability to look at a film shot from 3 years ago is a very, very simple exercise with StorSimple.”
Senior Director of Technology Services, Sundance Institute
The need to re-write applications to support cloud storage was eliminated by StorSimple’s iSCSI interface, meaning that applications did not need to be re-written or modified.
How StorSimple helped reduce IT costs
The acquisition of StorSimple was a significant savings over the alternative SAN storage and multiple devices that Sundance Institute might otherwise have had to purchase to achieve the same capabilities. Migrating the media archives to cloud storage via StorSimple freed up many terabytes of storage deferring the purchase of even more storage hardware.
The operational savings from having one box rather than multiple devices were dramatic. Most evident was the elimination of time spent administering backups, which had been taking up half of Rebecca’s time. Now she could be more proactive in managing storage rather continuously reactive.
“I was spending a significant amount of my time managing backups. With StorSimple… it just runs. I just check the list of jobs and let it do its thing.”
Systems Administrator, Sundance Institute
Why choose StorSimple?
Scott: Ease of operation, ease of installation, ease of configuration.
Justin: It worked very well with VMware and Microsoft applications. It was the best solution for Tier 1 de-duplication and cloud gateway altogether.
Rebecca: Saving the time for me [from eliminating backups] was the largest reason.
Cloud Storage with StorSimple enables non-profit organizations like Sundance Institute to have an agile, easy to manage storage infrastructure that significantly saves cost while providing integrated backup, disaster recovery and state-of-the-art storage optimization features of much more expensive storage systems.