My name is Jose Uribe, COO at Webhosting.net, which has been in business for upwards of fourteen years, offering web hosting, datacenter co-location, internet bandwidth, disaster recovery services and storage area network (SAN) backup services. I myself have been in the IT industry for more than fifteen years, mainly in the Service Provider (IT-as-a-Service) industry. We have traditionally operated in a very high tech vertical market, hosting resellers of web services, bandwidth and co-location services—these clients have come to us because we provide technical solutions to real-world IT problems. Our customers tend to be very savvy and know what they want: excellent service and a reliable company that has been in business for a long time.
The biggest challenge I have encountered, not only here but everywhere, is that you always had to sacrifice storage for performance. For Service Providers, ensuring solid performance has depended on costly investments in excess disk capacity and expanded footprint just to offset the performance required for their customer environments to run smoothly. For example, if your storage requirement was just one terabyte of disc space but your I/O requirement was 1000 IOPS, you would be forced to buy a SAN (storage area network) with roughly 4 terabytes rather than only one terabyte to get the random IOPs mandated by your I/O requirement (assuming Raid 50, using 147GB drive with 7200RPM).
My introduction to Nimble Storage began with the novel concept that there was no longer any need to sacrifice storage for performance.
Over the course of my career, I had purchased quite a few SANs and had established relationships with many resellers, so I reached out to one and said, “I’m in the market again. I need to buy storage.” He introduced me to Nimble saying, “You should check this out…they have a very good platform. Since you have a lot of experience with storage and performance, then you can see whether you like this: put them through the ringer and see whether they can perform in your environment.”
The more I read about Nimble Storage and the more I tested the units, the more I liked it. An engineer at heart, I recognized that Nimble decouples storage performance from backend disks and spindles. This is one of the biggest reasons why we went with Nimble Storage.
It has been a successful rollout and all of our shared cloud platforms, today, are on Nimble. We get the performance we need without having to waste precious budget monies on excess storage or added data center footprint. And we just keep growing with it. This was not possible, in the past. The Nimble Storage performance and compression benefits include:
- 20+ times higher IOPs
- Data Center Space Savings: 5:1 reduction (performance)
- Data Center Space Savings: 2:1 reduction (compression)
Over the past four years we have seen a shift in our industry toward more hosted managed services and cloud services, attracting clients who are not necessarily quite as tech savvy—in other words, attracting business clients. Before, our business relied chiefly on companies that manage other clients, but now such clients are starting to come directly to us.
Today our business is based on what is really the core of software services: hosted Exchange, hosted desktops, virtual servers and virtual desktops. (We also continue to provide co-location and web services, our bread and butter in our earlier history.)
Nimble hosts our virtual infrastructure, both servers and VDI, plus all the applications that we have deployed, today, and even some legacy applications that were migrated into Nimble. Altogether, Nimble is hosting all of our platforms today: the web hosting platform, Exchange, SharePoint, cloud servers and cloud VDIs.
Remember, we are a service provider, so our ability to offer some of these services is because of Nimble. We could not offer them previously, or at least not with the same level of performance. Four years ago we were strictly a network, bandwidth and co-location facilitator: we also did a lot of web hosting. Since that time, we have focused more on storage, particularly the advantages that we get from the Nimble Storage platform in compression and performance.
We have also been offering Business Continuity products and services, which we never did before and which has quickly become one of our flagship services. Nimble Storage is used for BC (business continuity)/DR (disaster recovery) from a compute and storage perspective, replicating VMs and data. Because of lower TCO thanks to Nimble, we can offer DR to customers at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions.
Helping the City of Bradenton to Leverage Nimble and VMware for DR
As an example, we just deployed a DR solution for the City of Bradenton in Florida, which came to us when it discovered that it could take a full two weeks to recover its data its legacy DR system.
The process to back up was also cumbersome, as the City was forced to back up data through an agent to a different storage system, then export that data into media shipped off to a provider at a remote location. The process to recover the data was equally arduous, as the City had to send personnel to get the physical data from the remote location and then drive it somewhere where they could mount it.
With our solution, the City of Bradenton was able to leverage its existing VMware/Nimble Storage environment: we leveraged the replication that happens within these Nimble arrays—taking its backup data through the snapshots Nimble already provides and smoothly transporting it over VPNs to our Nimble arrays and VMware virtual machines here in Miami. It’s good to hear from a customer, as we did from the City, “It looks like it’s going great, just as expected.”
Today, should the City have a DR scenario, it can access its data here very simply through VPNs and be up and running on the same day: its recovery time objective (RTO) has been cut from weeks to just hours. We also save the City precious budget monies on its contract for recovery, as our scenario can be roughly 40 percent lower than what it was paying.
From the standpoint of BC/DR, the easiest point of entry and where we can really save the client money is when it uses VMware and currently has its data in a Nimble Storage platform. It also allows regular DR testing: we do quarterly testing for these clients (or less frequently, if they prefer).
As our CEO, Anton Resnick, says, “We like to think that we are a little bit more responsible, and accountable, and we like to do things right. It is particularly satisfying for us to be able to revolutionize a customer’s DR plan, transforming it from one that calls for three to four days of outage to one that calls for only a couple of hours, if that.”
Finally, from the management perspective, Nimble Storage is very good: the most efficient of all the other SAN vendors I have seen. And to have the performance baseline included in the management feature is definitely a plus.
- Erin Simmons