Housing services firm swaps EMC for Tintri storage due to ‘expensive’ maintenance costs

Not-for-profit organisation's backups conducted 50 percent quicker and the speed of VMware’s vMotion virtual machine migration also increased, says Ed Newman, IS Technical Services manager at Housing and Care 21.

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Housing and care services organisation Housing & Care 21 has swapped its EMC storage area network (SAN) for a Tintri system, with savings made on maintenance costs allowing the not-for-profit organisation to invest in a secondary disaster recovery site.

The Midlands-based organisation provides care to 30,000 people aged over 65 and manages 19,000 retirement and extra care apartments. In order to cut data centre costs and improve infrastructure performance, Housing & Care 21 decided to replace its EMC VNX storage arrays with Tintri’s VMstore T880 to support its production and test/dev workloads.  

The savings allowed a disaster recovery site to be set up at a separate property, with the organisation also investing in a T850 system to provide backup for its VMware virtualised systems.

“At the time we only had a single data centre, but for the cost savings we have made we have bought two Tintri units instead of one and created a DR site in Birmingham,” said Ed Newman, IS Technical Services manager at Housing and Care 21.

“We started looking in the market for a suitable replacement because the cost of putting the unit in was less than the cost of EMC [maintenance],” he said, with additional supports costs rising to £80,000 a year. “The Tintri unit with three year support was about £70,000,” he said.

Another benefit with the Tintri storage was lower power consumption, as well as taking up less data centre space, said Newman. “They are a very small form factor compared to the EMC SANs, which take up an entire rack each. The Tintri units’ power consumption was tiny in comparison.”

However, Newman added that part of the reason for looking for a cheaper alternative is that the organisation no longer needed the functionality of the VNX storage.

“The problem we had is that the EMC SANs we had were 'specced' for a lot more than we currently need for them. We were doing a lot more with them when we bought them, but we don’t use a lot of the functionality that is in there anymore, so what we had were extremely good SANs but they were overspecced for what we needed.”

Newman said that since deploying the Tintri array, there have been benefits to performance, with backups conducted 50 percent quicker and the speed of VMware’s vMotion virtual machine migration also increased.

He added: “From a support and IS/IT point of view we haven’t had any issues with it since it went in, whereas with the EMC [storage] we were having to replace one disk a month,” he said. “So far we have had no failure on the Tintri.

“We noticed considerable speed difference with the admin functions we do within IS as well – our backups are taking about half the time they used to, provisioning servers in VMware is very quick. It is all positive at the moment.”

He said that there were some reservations about switching an established provider for a lesser-known vendor, but these were overcome after a month long pilot of the storage.

“We had a very good experience with the install of the demo system, so that put our mind to rest a little bit,” he said.

“We also looked at the failure rate of the unit and that looked good. We had a number of meetings with their sales teams about where the company is actually going and its longevity and we were reassured about all of that. So yes there were concerns but the company allayed them pretty well."