Recoveriescorp takes a nimble approach to storage

Recoveriescorp was looking for a new storage solution after realising its EMC infrastructure was reaching maximum capacity, and took the chance of installing Nimble's CS200 hybrid array as a replacement.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

After using EMC Clariion storage arrays for four and a half years to support its Unidata database, Recoveriescorp realised that it was quickly reaching maximum capacity, and was therefore in need of a new solution — even though the company had over 31TB of storage.

Recoveriescorp general IT manager Craig Rowe said that given the EMC storage was at the end of its life, the company needed to find a replacement. While there was the option to stay with EMC, it "wanted to keep up with the changes and see what else was in the market".

The contact centre specialising in debt recovery solutions and insurance claims recovery services turned to Nimble Storage and installed the Nimble CS200 hybrid array at the company's Melbourne datacentre.

According to Recoveriescorp infrastructure engineer Graeme Moore, Nimble was chosen because it was able to meet three of the company's key criteria — one of which was that it needed to be a cost-effective solution, from both an acquisition and ongoing management standpoint.

"From a cost perspective, there were a number of things we needed to meet," he said.

"One was to reduce power consumption. This included the cost of running the air conditioning to keep the environment cool because it used up a lot of power, and to be able to reduce the big costs associated with expanding it from a high-performance storage system."

Another criterion for the new storage system was that it had to be "green" and comply with the 14001 ISO Environmental Management Standard.

"A lot of the requirements are based on our environmental certification, and there's a lot pressure from our clients who are putting very big emphasis on what we're doing on the 'green' side," said Jeff Sussman, Recoveriescorp CTO, who noted that the Nimble CS200 uses fewer disks than the previous EMC solution.

"It helps increase our credibility with our client base, so a lot of our decisions are very focused on doing the right thing from an environment point of view."

The third criteria for the new storage solution was that it needed to provide the company with the ability to rapidly scale performance and capacity to respond to changes in workload.

"If we add another client and increased the size of our business, we didn't want a lead time," he said.

"We wanted to be able to be very responsive from the time we put in our purchase order to the time that stuff is on-site. It use to take us two weeks to do, but Nimble is a readily available hardware, and the ability it has to quickly respond to the business was another reason why we chose it."

The company was also able to reduce storage capacity down to 9TB from the initial 31TB, and the storage now fits in three replaceable units with room to spare, equating to a rack space saving of over seven to one. This was because thin-provisioning replaced the thick-provisioning that its EMC disks had.

"We are now able to achieve our performance targets with a much smaller number of disks using Nimble Storage," said Sussman.

Moore said the other benefit of the Nimble arrays was the company being able to virtualise its remaining physical servers.

"By moving to Nimble, we increased performance by five times for our overnight processing, which is our time of greatest load. Our SQL reports that used to take three and half hours now run in just 45 minutes," he said.

While changes like this often come with challenges, Moore said the implementation was so seamless that there was no downtime and it was completed during business hours; the only difference that the company saw was an increase in speed.

"When we initially installed it, there was a lot of scepticism over whether something so small and energy efficient could achieve the results that were being claimed. As I was the one on-site doing most of the installation work and migration from the old to the new environment, I was fairly confident that we weren't going to have any problems," he said.

The Nimble CS200 hybrid array is a completely on-premises solution, and the only cloud component Moore said exists is when performance logs are sent from Nimble to provide the company with long-term reporting to see how the environment is growing over time and to help perform predictive analyses.

He said that this is an improvement from performing analyses with EMC, which would require him to manually go through 12 months of logs on the system and try to extrapolate the data.

As for whether moving completely to the cloud is looking to be an option in the near future, Rowe said that given the business is involved with "heavily restricted" clients such as banks, insurance companies, and the government, which are "very precious about their data and where it can go", the company's decision to move to the cloud will be dependant on their customers.

"While we may start utilising cloud we're going to be a predominately a premise-base solution," Rowe said.

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