Case Study: recoveriescorp

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Recoveriescorp “Goes Green” with Nimble Storage

Nimble enables Australia’s leading debt recovery and insurance claims recovery organisation to do much more with much less storage.

Recoveriescorp

Recoveriescorp is a contact centre specialising in debt recovery solutions and insurance claims recovery services. Founded in 1991, recoveriescorp now employs more than 350 staff at the company’s offices in Melbourne, Sydney, and offshore contact center in Fiji. Recoveriescorp specialises in the insurance, banking and finance, telecommunications, utilities and government sectors.

Recoveriescorp’s strategic direction for all IT infrastructure and associated services are managed by Craig Rowe, General Manager IT, and Jeff Sussman Chief Technology Officer. They are supported by a team of engineers, including Graeme Moore, Infrastructure Engineer.

Searching for a New Solution

Recoveriescorp was using EMC CLARiiON storage arrays for its Unidata database, Crystal Reports business intelligence system, Citrix XenDesktop environment, VMware vSphere ESXi servers, and Microsoft Exchange 2013 data. Although they had over 31TB of EMC storage, they were rapidly running out of capacity. In addition, the existing environment was costly and difficult to manage. To address these challenges, the recoveriescorp IT team started investigating other storage options for the company’s business-critical applications and services.

Craig Rowe and Jeff Sussman outlined three criteria for the new storage solution: The infrastructure had to be cost effective, from both an acquisition and ongoing management perspective; it had to be ’green,’ with a smaller datacenter footprint and reduced power and cooling requirements; and it had to provide the ability to rapidly scale performance and capacity to respond to changes in workload.

Evaluating the Alternatives

Recoveriescorp initially considered storage solutions from EMC, IBM, and Nutanix. Then Josh Rubens at Cloud Solutions Group, a value added reseller and trusted advisor to recoveriescorp, suggested they look at Nimble Storage. Recoveriescorp also checked references with Nimble customers that had similar requirements. ’The two companies we contacted had easily attained the results they set out to achieve,’ noted Moore. ’One of them even let us have a look at their actual performance statistics to prove that Nimble could do what it was claiming. After seeing their results, we were quickly sold on the Nimble approach to storage.’

Recoveriescorp purchased its first Nimble CS200 array in 2013, installing it at the com-pany’s Melbourne datacenter and had it up and running within days. ’The Nimble arrays are outperforming even our greatest expectations,’ acknowledged Sussman. ’The fact that we have so many different workloads running on one SAN is astounding. And the ability to reach our storage goals with such a small number of disks is simply stunning.’

Going Green with Nimble

Recoveriescorp also wanted a solution that would enable them to comply with the 14001 ISO Environmental Management Standard. ’We want our operations to be as environmentally friendly as possible,’ noted Moore. ’And by ’green,’ we don’t just mean lower power consumption, but also fewer resources. Nimble uses far fewer disks than the other storage solutions. It’s the greenest solution we could find in terms of minimal wastage and significantly lower power requirements.’


Reducing Storage Footprint

’Before Nimble, we needed 31TB terabytes of EMC disks to run our VMware vSphere virtual environment,’ explained Sussman. ’And we were using almost all of it, since we had to thick- provision everything. We achieved a 37 percent capacity saving by using Nimble’s inline compression. But when we added in the thin-provisioning that our EMC does not support, we reduced that even further to just 9TB. We are now able to achieve our performance targets with a much smaller number of disks using Nimble Storage.’

Recoveriescorp’s EMC CLARiiON storage completely filled half a rack in the company datacenter. ’With the small form factor of the Nimble arrays, our storage now fits in just three RU with room to spare,’ reported Sussman. ’That equates to a rack space savings of over 7 to 1!’

Easy Scalability

The Nimble arrays also provide easy scalability. ’Our business users have a tendency not to tell us about their expansion needs until the last minute,’ related Moore. ’For example, we recently implemented a new Citrix environment. We went from testing to full production with 30 users in just two weeks ’ and that included running voice over the environment. The number of Citrix users has now doubled. Luckily we now have a storage environment that can respond quickly to additional capacity requirements. We like to refer to Nimble as the ’Lego Building Blocks’ of storage, since it’s so easy to add more capacity quickly in an incremental fashion.’

“I like the fact that InfoSight is included for free as part of the Nimble solution, where other vendors charge expensive license fees for that level of functionality. InfoSight enables us to see exactly how our environment grows over time and easily perform predictive analyses.”

Using Nimble InfoSight

Recoveriescorp is using Nimble InfoSight to monitor its CS260G array. ’I like the fact that InfoSight is included for free as part of the Nimble solution, where other vendors charge expensive license fees for that level of functionality,’ explained Sussman. ’InfoSight enables us to see exactly how our environment grows over time and easily perform predictive analyses.’

Sussman and Moore are using InfoSight to run annual capacity planning reports for business forecasting. ’To perform the analyses with EMC, I had to manually go through 12 months of logs on the system and try to extrapolate where we were headed on each

individual VMware guest,’ Moore said. ’We no longer have to do that with Nimble, since InfoSight provides those reports at the touch of a button. InfoSight saves us multiple weeks of administrative time each year.’

Loving Nimble Support

’The Nimble arrays are extremely easy to set up ’ you don’t need to be a storage specialist,’ Sussman stated. ’I also love InfoSight’s proactive support alerts. We just received a warning that we would run out of space in 90 days if we continued at our current growth rate. Over a two week period, we went from 100 percent capacity available to 40 percent because we were migrating to the new array at a very fast pace. It was really nice to see that the system is tracking how much capacity we are using. From the perspective of proactive management, InfoSight is fantastic.’

Better Performance

’All of our Windows servers were running on VMware and EMC storage,’ Sussman explained. ’But some of our legacy systems were just too high in IO to run on the EMC platform. Since it was cost prohibitive to put in the required number of EMC disks for that load, we still had to maintain some physical machines. The high performance of the Nimble arrays has enabled us to finally virtualise our remaining physical servers. By moving to Nimble, we increased performance by 5x for our overnight processing, which is our time of greatest load. Our SQL reports that used to take three and a half hours, now run in just 45 minutes.’

Conclusion

“The challenge we threw out to all of the storage vendors was to provide something with a small number disks that could still achieve the performance levels we needed,” Sussman explained. “But most vendors are still going down the ‘storage pool path,’ with dedicated storage for functionality. The advantage with Nimble – and it took us a little while to really get our heads around this – is that the Nimble can achieve the same result with a much smaller number of disks and a tiny environment.”

“The Nimble Storage arrays performed even better than promised,” according to Moore. “When we made the decision to switch to Nimble, there were people on our team that said, ’This is going to be the end of you! This little SAN can’t possibly do what the old EMC can!’ And we certainly proved them wrong. The EMCs always topped out at about 3,000 IOPS. But the Nimble arrays can easily exceed 17,000 IOPS without a missing a beat. The performance difference in the two environments is huge. Add to that Nimble’s better backup, faster installation, and easier management, and it’s simply a fantastic choice. We know we made the right decision to move to Nimble Storage.”