Hanson Bridgett LLP
- Database – Microsoft® SQL Server®
- Virtual Server Infrastructure – VMware® vSphere®,
- Virtual Desktop Infrastructure – VMware Horizon®, Citrix® XenApp®
- Legacy storage was near end of life.
- The vendor did not propose a replacement solution for business-continuity.
- The law firm quickly and easily implemented the ActiveCluster feature of Purity software from Pure Storage for transparent failover.
- Backup time was cut in half compared to the previous solution.
- High rates of data reduction cut datacenter footprint and co-location costs
HANSON BRIDGETT RENDERS ITS VERDICT: ACTIVE CLUSTER ENSURES BUSINESS CONTINUITY
Jay Easton knows what it’s like to have a long to-do list. “There’s just me and one other guy to manage the entire IT infrastructure for the firm, and we’re always busy,” noted Easton, Network Manager for Hanson Bridgett LLP, a San Francisco law firm with more than 150 attorneys and five offices in California. But there’s one part of that infrastructure that makes Easton feel like the Maytag® repairman. “With Pure Storage, I might not look at the thing for three weeks at a time.”
Having equipment that requires little or no attention “makes me very happy,” because uptime is a primary concern for Easton. “When attorneys don’t have access to data, they can’t do their work. And when they can’t do their work, they can’t bill. There is an expectation of 100% uptime. So, business continuity isn’t an IT buzzword; it’s a requirement.”
That is why Easton runs two parallel infrastructures — one at the firm’s offices and the other at a hardened co-location facility about six blocks away. “We run half our workload at one site and half at the other. But if there ever is an issue in our offices, we can run everything at the co-lo.”
Easton’s IT infrastructure is built around UCS blade servers and Nexus® switches from Cisco Systems®, and VMware virtualization software. For many years, the storage platform was from LeftHand Networks, a company that was acquired by HP® and folded into its StorageWorks portfolio. Easton said it performed reliably and addressed his need for business continuity by implementing “striping” technology, a method for backing up SQL Server databases across multiple files.
But with the HP equipment nearing its end of life, Easton needed a replacement solution for business continuity. None was forthcoming from his incumbent vendor. “HP pretty much abandoned the striping technology, and they didn’t reach out to us with an alternative. But our VAR, Softchoice, told us about Pure Storage.”
At the time, Pure Storage was about to announce a new feature of its Purity software called ActiveCluster, an active/active stretched cluster technology that delivers transparent failover between two storage arrays in a metro area, without the costs and complexity traditionally associated with business continuity solutions.
ACTIVECLUSTER: THE SIMPLE ROUTE TO BUSINESS CONTINUITY
After learning about ActiveCluster, Easton asked to be a beta-test site for it. “We were very impressed. It totally outperformed the HP in how long it took to perform backups,” Easton said. The day after general availability of ActiveCluster, Hanson Bridgett installed two FlashArray//M20s, one each for the main office and the co-lo.
“We now have a DR site that is more than just a standby facility in case of a problem. We have a site that’s 100% active all the time, so that if one side or the other fails, we will still have all services.”
Following a quick and easy installation of the Pure Storage arrays that included an effortless data migration, Easton moved virtually all the firm’s workloads onto Pure in less time than he had planned. And he doesn’t look back on his previous solution with any fondness. “Our rep from HP wasn’t responsive and their tech support was not efficient. It took 13-14 hours to do a software upgrade.”
Easton said the compression and de-duplication features of the Pure Storage arrays have far exceeded expectations. “I’ve provisioned 44TB and it’s using 4.5TB on the array. That’s a total reduction of 9.1:1, with data reduction 3:1.”
All that storage comes in a package that consumes only three rack units, compared to the previous system which took up a full rack that contained 60TB raw but only 28TB usable, and no deduplication.
Other performance comparisons between the Pure Storage and HP arrays are equally dramatic. “Pure is typically under 1ms of latency, while we would see spikes of as much as 300ms with HP,” Easton noted.
The Pure Storage arrays support all the of the firm’s business-critical workloads, including SQL Server databases, Active Directory®, Exchange®, SharePoint® and more than 100 virtual machines running on VMware vSphere.
CONSOLIDATING ALL KEY WORKLOADS ON FLASH
The firm’s backup structure remains the same — Veeam to Exagrid — but since the Pure Storage arrays replaced HP, “our backup windows have been cut in half,” Easton reported. “ActiveCluster is just awesome.”
In nearly a year of operation, the Pure Storage arrays have had 100% uptime, “which means my RTO/RPO has been zero — which is the goal. We recently did our first software upgrade on the Pure arrays, and when they promise a non-disruptive upgrade, they mean it. It was completely behind the scenes, fast and easy.”
Easton said when he met his counterpart at another, much larger San Francisco law firm, “he told me he’s had Pure Storage in place for over three years and had never made a service call.”
ActiveCluster, Easton said, “is very easy to launch, very quick, and has a super-intuitive interface. There was no training needed. I grabbed one of my help-desk guys so he could watch the entire process — just so I’d have someone else to do the work if I weren’t around — and he picked it up right away. And this is someone not experienced with storage.”
SIMPLIFIED MANAGEMENT TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
Recounting how much time he spends on storage management with Pure Storage in place, Easton said “it literally can be zero. It takes longer to rack and stack than it does to start using it. And once it’s up, it stays up. We’re a very lean operation, so having Pure frees us up to do other things that are more important to the firm. That includes activities outside the office, like the community service projects that are an important part of the culture of the firm.”
Easton summarized his experience with the Pure Storage FlashArray running ActiveCluster: “If I can bring in a product that is reliable and exceeds all expectations and I don’t have to baby it, then I’m super happy.
“When something is that easy, you get to thinking ‘Am I missing something here? There’s got to be more to it.’ But there’s not. Pure Storage is quick, it’s easy, and it doesn’t require any attention.”
WHAT IS ACTIVECLUSTER?
ActiveCluster is a multi-site, active/active stretch cluster technology that makes the highest levels of business continuity easy and affordable for businesses of any size. Organizations can effortlessly enable zero RPO and zero RTO between two FlashArrays with true active/active synchronous replication for transparent failover.
ActiveCluster is included at no extra charge as part of the Purity operating environment that powers all Pure Storage FlashArrays. ActiveCluster requires no third site, no extra hardware, licenses, or fees, and no more than a few minutes to set up. It comes with the Pure1® Cloud Mediator, a SaaS-based quorum witness that eliminates the need for a third site. Failovers happen safely, automatically and transparently. If an array fails, the Cloud Mediator ensures that hosts simply access data on the other array.