Case Study: MulvannyG2
MulvannyG2 Architecture Gets a Panoramic View of its Global Storage Infrastructure Using Nimble Storage InfoSight
Cloud-based storage monitoring portal provides centralized visibility into the health of all Nimble arrays from the Pacific Northwest to Shanghai, China
With billions of square feet designed and built, five offices with work on six continents, and more design awards than they can count—MulvannyG2 Architecture now ranks among the top 50 architectural firms in the world. Since its inception in 1971, MulvannyG2 has built hundreds of large retail, commercial, civic, and mixed-use buildings for an impressive list of global clients, including the City of Beijing, Microsoft, Boeing, and five of 2012’s top 20 Fortune 500 retailers. The Bellevue, Washington-based firm now employs over 300 design and management professionals, including 78 registered architects.
Starting the Nimble Journey
MulvannyG2 purchased its first Nimble Storage array in 2011 to reduce the strain on its backup operations. After seeing how well the Nimble array was performing, MulvannyG2 purchased five additional arrays in 2012 to support the firm’s 65 virtual servers, Microsoft® SQL Server databases, and valuable architectural project data. Two of the Nimble arrays are located in MulvannyG2’s Bellevue datacenter, two in Portland, and one in Shanghai. “The Nimble Storage arrays have been able to support all of our different application environments while maintaining consistently good performance,” noted Anthony Perish, systems administrator for MulvannyG2 Architecture.
Storage Management Challenges
MuvannyG2 operates with a small, but very talented team of IT professionals. There is one IT generalist in Shanghai, but no dedicated on-site storage administrator. “It is really easy for our team in Bellevue to forget about the Nimble array in Shanghai due to the nine-hour time zone difference,” Perish admitted. “If it ever has a performance problem—it’s not going to be when I’m awake. We needed the ability to centrally monitor all of our remote arrays from our Bellevue headquarters.” MulvannyG2’s previous storage management solution provided very little insight into the arrays at any of the company’s datacenters, making it impossible to plan for capacity and performance. “We only knew we had a problem with an array after its performance had already degraded,” Perish explained. “We had to remember to look at the individual stats for five or six different units, try and compile all of that disparate information together, and then attempt to plan out our storage needs for the future. It was definitely more of an art than science.”
Choosing Nimble Storage InfoSight
When Nimble Storage announced the availability of the InfoSight Portal earlier this year, the firm jumped on the chance to try the new centralized management and monitoring solution. Nimble Storage InfoSight integrates, automates, and simplifies storage administrative tasks for MulvannyG2, ensuring the optimal health of the firm’s storage environment.
With its comprehensive and intuitive dashboards, InfoSight provides the MuvannyG2 IT team with a single pane of glass view into all of the firm’s Nimble storage arrays. By using the cloud-based InfoSight portal, the IT team can now manage all of the Nimble arrays from the firm’s Bellevue datacenter. “It is extremely simple to obtain all of the capacity and usage stats I need on all of our Nimble arrays—even the ones in Shanghai—using the InfoSight dashboards,” noted Perish.
Creating Detailed Reports
Perish now uses InfoSight several times each week, and even more frequently when compiling the firm’s in-depth monthly reports. “InfoSight analyzes all of our capacity and performance data and presents it in a very intuitive, graphical format. The information I need is now right at my fingertips. I can even pull up a graph with hard data right in the middle of a meeting to show management how our storage usage has changed since the previous month. I can easily justify the need to budget for additional capacity.”
Supporting the VDI Environment
MulvannyG2 is planning to deploy virtual desktops for some of its employees later this year. “VDI can be very taxing on a storage platform,” Perish explained. “Without the visibility provided by InfoSight, it would be very difficult—if not impossible—to assess whether we needed to add more cache or upgrade the CPU to increase storage performance. If we had deployed VDI before InfoSight, we would have just pushed out the virtual desktops and waited until something started running slowly or failed completely. InfoSight will help us to proactively optimize our storage to ensure the highest performing VDI environment.”
Obtaining Detailed Information by Volume
“The InfoSight volumes tab is where I spend a lot of my time,” stated Perish. “We have allocated separate volumes to each of the different departments in our company. InfoSight lets me look at exactly where and how all of our storage space is being used. I can instantly see if the different departments are using their data space appropriately and how quickly their storage needs are expanding. Armed with that information, I can determine when I need to procure more storage for each group, or simply show them how to use their space more efficiently.”
Receiving Automatic Alerts and Fast Support
InfoSight can be configured to automatically send alerts for a wide range of storage issues. “We had a case recently where a drive needed replacing,” Perish noted. “Before using Nimble Storage, it would have been an ordeal and taken a good amount of time to resolve. I would have arrived at the office to discover that the drive had failed. After calling the vendor’s support desk, running a bunch of diagnostics, and emailing the results back to their support team, they might be able to ship a replacement drive out the next day—if the support rep was able to get approval from his manager in a timely manner.
“In contrast, InfoSight monitors all of my Nimble arrays continuously. When it noticed that one of our arrays had an issue, it automatically opened a support case and a replacement drive was in the mail before I even got to the office that morning! I received an email saying, ‘Here’s your problem. Your drive is on the way.’ It didn’t require anything from me. Now that’s what a great monitoring tool should be able to do!”
InfoSight has transformed the storage lifecycle for MulvannyG2 Architecture. “Before InfoSight, it was impossible to access the storage performance information we needed to keep our systems running efficiently,” Perish concluded. “With the cloudbased InfoSight Portal, all of the answers we need are right at our fingertips. We can now monitor all of our global storage from one location. Not only have we simplified our on-going storage management tasks, we have gained the ability to plan for both performance and capacity going forward. I’ve yet to come across a storage management tool that has the range of functionality provided by the Nimble InfoSight Portal.”
MulvannyG2 Case Study (PDF)
“Not only have we simplified our day-to-day storage management tasks — we have gained the ability to plan for both performance and capacity going forward. I’ve yet to come across a storage management tool that has the range of functionality provided by Nimble InfoSight.”