Northrim Bank

ALASKAN BANK LEVERAGES DATRIUM’S® SERVER POWERED STORAGE TO OVERCOME COOLING, SPACE, AND CAPACITY BARRIERS

northrimbank_trans

www.northrim.com

CUSTOMER Northrim Bank
INDUSTRY Financial
CHALLENGE VDI underpins the Bank’s demands for security, performance, scalability and business continuity; however, this workload places the greatest demand on their storage infrastructure. After ruling out Hyperconverged and Array-based solutions, the Bank selected Datrium’s DVX to meet their current and future needs.
RESULTS

3X faster real-world application performance using “Insane Mode”Zero man hours needed to manage the DVX appliance

7X overall data reduction vs 1.75X backup compression and 1.38X primary compression with the Nimble Storage® solution

20-50% less Datastore reservations than SANs

One 2U Datrium DVX exceeds the combined capacity and performance of two 3U Nimble Storage® and two 4U Equallogic® arrays

 

“Once I saw the technology, it was like the OxyClean® of storage, it sold itself. The advantage was instantly clear to me, and was exactly what we’ve been waiting for to finish our virtual desktop infrastructure deployment. It represents an evolutionary step in server-storage convergence by moving the logic, processing, and most of the touch points from the SAN Controllers to each Host Server, while maintaining worry-free data protection on their highly-available Netshelf. ”

– Benjamin Craig, EVP and Chief Information Officer

Background

Northrim Bank is a geographically diverse community bank serving 90 percent of Alaska’s population with branches and offices from Fairbanks, Alaska to Bellevue, Washington. It is one of three publicly traded, SEC registered, publicly owned companies based in the state of Alaska, and supports a total of 34 locations to include those of their wholly owned subsidiary, Residential Mortgage.

Since opening in 1990, Northrim has expanded organically and through regular acquisitions. With growth, their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has become a core piece of the Bank’s strategy for scalability and business continuity. VDI has facilitated seamless cutovers during mergers, allowed for business continuity during real world disasters, and increased adoption of a bring-your-own-computer (BYOC) strategy among employees.

“We have virtualized our entire server infrastructure and we’re about 65 percent virtualized with our desktops, with a goal of being 100 percent virtualized by year’s end,” says Erick Stoeckle, VP Architecture & Cybersecurity at Northrim Bank. “VDI represents our highest virtual workload, but we rely on it for business continuity, security, performance, and scalability.”

 

Company Challenge

Insufficient Storage for Growing VDI

When considering its storage options, Northrim found that both array-based and server-based options missed the mark in meeting the Bank’s needs.

With array-based storage from Nimble Storage®, performance began to bog down as workstation needs increased. However, acquiring the necessary controllers, processors and cache to improve performance would require the Bank to incur significant cost on top of their substantial existing investment.

Northrim evaluated and ruled out third-party SAN Acceleration vendors because they did not want the added burden of managing multiple storage vendors: one for SAN acceleration software and another for storage every time they performed an upgrade.

The Bank carefully considered hyperconverged (HCI) solutions, but the Northrim Engineering team recognized their host-side patching, upgrades, and maintenance windows occur far too frequently to rely upon host servers as a distributed SAN. And Northrim determined HCI would not scale well with the Bank’s workloads, requiring costly converged infrastructure purchases when they actually only needed independent storage and compute resources.

 

Results

Eliminating Hyperconverged Data Risk

Though initially intrigued by Datrium because of the people behind it, veterans of leading storage and virtualization companies, Ben soon realized the technology’s unique proposition: superior scalability, performance, simplicity and cost.

“Faith in the people behind Datrium got me to listen to the pitch,” Ben says. “But once I saw the technology, it was like the OxyClean® of storage, it sold itself. The advantage was instantly clear to me, and was exactly what we’ve been waiting for to finish our virtual desktop infrastructure deployment. It represents an evolutionary step in server-storage convergence by moving the logic, processing, and most of the touch points from the SAN Controllers to each Host Server, while maintaining worry-free data protection on their highly-available Netshelf. ”

Datrium’s server-based storage model moves all array controller intelligence to each vSphere host server, and allocates unused CPU cores to storage IO processing. With Datrium, written data is protected on a rock-solid data server, and Northrim hosts remain stateless and serviceable. “We simply could not take the chance a prolonged server outage might put our data at risk by using the HCI model,” Ben says. “To our delight, Datrium’s approach eliminated that risk.”

3X Faster Real-World Application Performance

Once deployed at Northrim, the Datrium DVX immediately demonstrated a noticeable performance improvement – speed that end users noticed despite working thousands of miles away. VDI performance was credited with a 3X increase in batch processing – the mission-critical function of rolling a bank from one business day to the next – and this translated directly to time savings. “Our Nimble Storage® SANs are fast. But we were left speechless by the fact our DVX was frequently able to push well over 3X the IOPS and throughput, with a fraction of the latency of our production Nimble Storage® SANs using only two SATA solid-state drives we bought off Amazon. And those results weren’t confined to a sterile lab environment – we observed a 3X reduction in core batch processing times and backup job durations on our virtual desktops.” Joshua says. ”From a performance standpoint, we’ve never seen a faster enterprise-grade appliance than the DVX.”

Contributing to those performance gains, Northrim tapped into Datrium’s Insane Mode to increase storage performance on the fly. With the touch of a button, Insane Mode accelerated the performance of VMs in-place, instantly delivering a “visceral improvement” in speed, according to Ben. With Insane Mode, the Bank experienced an additional 30-35 percent performance boost over Datrium’s Fast Mode, and now deploys Datrium’s Insane Mode standard across all connected host servers.

The Efficiency Advantage: Less Time, Less Capacity versus Arrays

Northrim manages Datrium within VMware® vCenter, eliminating the separate user interface necessary with its existing arrays. In fact, with the Datrium solution, the Northrim IT team eliminated 100 percent of the time previously spent managing legacy storage artifacts like LUNs and Volumes – time it can now dedicate to other tasks.

But for Ben, the benefits of centralized management go beyond time-savings. Using Datrium’s DVX, Northrim can recoup a significant amount of wasted space required to support thin provisioning on traditional SANs. Unlike most SANs, the DVX advertises a single shared capacity pool to all vSphere host servers. In Northrim’s case that means the ability to consolidate 34 LUNS, each with a 20-50% reserved buffer for thin provisioning, into a single Datastore. Ben estimated this could allow Northrim to recoup terabytes of storage currently reserved for thin provisioning on legacy SANs. “On the Datrium DVX, we see one NFS (network file system) Datastore versus 34 individual Datastores with our previous storage solutions; that’s absolutely huge,” Ben says. “This allows us to granularly configure performance and protection at a VM level instead of at a Volume level.”

In addition, Datrium DVX is the only platform to deliver deduplication and compression by default on both solid state and spinning media. “No other vendor we’ve tested has the deduplication and compression effectiveness that Datrium does,” Ben says. “Datrium dedupes and compresses everything that’s written to it. We keep throwing more data at the DVX and we barely consume additional capacity. It’s damn impressive.”

“Phenomenally Good” Support

And as Ben expected, Datrium provides the attentive support that a mission-critical 24x7 operation – or any type of business – demands. “There’s no more critical support than from a storage vendor because you’re literally putting all your eggs in one basket,” Ben says. “With Datrium we get the right people on the line rapidly. Support is phenomenally good.”