Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

Local Health Department Consolidates Six Arrays to One Converged System and Finds Ease and Economics in the Face of an Uncertain Budget

www.tpchd.org

INDUSTRY Government
CHALLENGE

With six arrays nearing end of life, the Health Department needed a short- and long-term strategy for simplifying storage management and containing costs.

RESULTS

Consolidated six arrays with one converged appliance, reducing management time

Reduced storage management to zero, and accelerated VM creation by more than 10X

Eliminated a rack of equipment, resulting in just under $10K/yr in power savings

Reduced used capacity by two-thirds

Lowered CapEx while gaining headroom for growth

 

When I saw the Datrium demo, my jaw dropped. What drew me is the ease of use with no LUNs to manage, increasing IOPs as I add hosts, the affordability, and the fact that there’s no latency between the server and storage.

– Ken Pi, Senior Engineer

Company Challenge

Aging, High-Maintenance Arrays

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health for the 832,000 residents of Pierce County, Washington. As a public agency, Tacoma-Pierce receives approximately 40 percent of its funding from federal and state grants and 40 percent from permits and fees, with the remainder from a mix of local government funds and other sources. The Health Department aims to be an effective steward of its limited public funding resources.

Given that, the IT team tirelessly works to enhance performance and get the most value for end users. When Ken Pi, Senior Engineer, arrived at the Health Department in 2016, he found a patchwork of six different storage arrays, all of which were nearing end of life. Parceling applications across arrays required careful decision making, and provisioning a virtual machine could take a couple of hours.

 
Results

From Six Arrays to ‘Hands-Free’ Convergence

Through the course of his career, Pi has tried most of the major storage solutions on the market, including Dell EqualLogic, NetApp, EMC and Nimble. When he heard about the Datrium DVX, he was admittedly skeptical, but a demonstration quickly addressed his concerns. 

“My experience of working with many storage vendors over the years is that they often don’t deliver on promises,” Pi says. “But when I saw the Datrium demo, my jaw dropped. What drew me is the ease of use with no LUNs to manage, increasing IOPs as I add hosts, the affordability, and the fact that there’s zero latency between the server and storage.”

With Datrium, the Health Department replaced the six different storage arrays with one open converged infrastructure (OCI) system and simplified every aspect of storage management. The team now manages storage centrally in vSphere without any need to administer LUNs or other storage artifacts. In a single browser window – instead of four previously – engineers track detailed VM performance analytics, without having to hop back and forth between applications as they once did.

Before, it took Pi a couple of hours to create a VM. Not so anymore. Creating new VMs is a matter of simply clicking default on a template, which takes just minutes. And having one pool of storage removes time-consuming assessment and decision-making about where to place VMs for available capacity and balanced performance. “Now you just fire up the VM, and it’s automatic,” Pi says. “It saves us a ton of time. It’s the most hands-free system I deal with.”

 

Convergence Shrinks Footprint, Delivers Needed Economic Benefits

Datrium now supports most Health Department applications and over a hundred virtual machines. With the move to the DVX and always-on global deduplication and compression, The Health Department reduced used storage capacity by two-thirds and gained plenty of headroom for growth.

Not only does storage efficiency reduce cost and management time, but the combination of removing arrays and servers reduced power usage by 4 KVAs (1,000 volt amps) – a savings of just under $10,000 per year. It also freed up considerable space in the storage room. “We used to have this huge pile in the server room, and now we’ve reduced that by almost a full rack,” Pi says. “Everyone is impressed that some software in hosts and that one little data appliance can do so much.”

In Pi’s past experience with NetApp and Nimble, VM-based applications always pushed IOPs to the limit. With Datrium, IOPs stay at just a fraction of the maximum. Latency, in turn, has dropped significantly. With Datrium’s open convergence solution, a complete set of VM data is maintained on the host (“Compute Node”). Compute Nodes provide local VM and I/O processing resources, and all reads stay in local flash, maximizing speed.

For Pi and the team, Datrium provides a more affordable, lower-risk infrastructure strategy – and a more effective use of public funds. Upon install, Datrium allowed the Health Department to reduce its capital costs while offering plenty of room for capacity and performance growth. Next, the Health Department plans to add a second Datrium platform for its offsite disaster recovery site, tapping Datrium’s built-in cloud data management capabilities.

“You’ll be surprised at the money you’ll save with Datrium,” Pi says. “It’s simple, affordable, and I have greater peace of mind that it’s back there.”

 

“We used to have this huge pile in the server room, and now we’ve reduced that by almost a full rack. Everyone is impressed that some software in hosts and that one little data appliance can do so much.”

  -Ken Pi, Senior Server Engineer

 

 

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. The department is one of only 163 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards.