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Anderson Center for Autism Drives Storage Costs Down to 70¢/GB Using the NEC HYDRAstor

One of DCIG’s objectives in blogging is to document over time how companies are using different vendors’ products, the ways in which they are using the product, successes they are having and specific challenges that they are beginning to face. Greg Paulk, the IT Director for the Anderson Center for Autism, represents the first individual that DCIG has had the opportunity to do this with.

I first met Mr. Paulk at the Fall 2007 Storage Decisions conference in New York City and interviewed him shortly thereafter for a blog entry that appeared back in October 2007. However six months have passed since that interview so I followed up with Mr. Paulk to get an update on how his installation of the NEC HYDRAstor was performing, since Paulk was still using a beta version of the NEC HYDRAstor software when we last spoke.

Paulk revealed that he is now in full production with the production code loaded on the NEC HYDRAstor. However he is still using the same hardware configuration (two Accelerator Nodes and four Storage Nodes) that he started out using due to the high deduplication ratio that he is achieving with the HYDRAstor.

Last fall he was achieving a 17:1 deduplication ratio and hoped to eventually achieve a 35:1 ratio. Six months later, his deduplication ratio is now approximately 39:1 which has mitigated his need to buy additional capacity and has driven his cost/GB down to approximately 70¢/GB. “It’s like getting 390 TB for the price of 10 TBs,” says Paulk.

He also has not found it necessary to add more Accelerator Nodes into his HYDRAstor configuration. Though he has nearly doubled the number of servers he is backing up on a nightly basis (from 13 to 21 servers), he is achieving about 3 Gbps of throughput across his two Accelerator Nodes.

I then asked him, “What are the biggest benefits that you have experienced since you started using the HYDRAstor?” There were four benefits he cited:

  • First, it worked as advertised. The installation was easy (it took 68 minutes), and it has done everything he has needed it to do.
  • Second, it requires very little management overhead. He has one individual assigned to manage the HYDRAstor and, since it functions as one logical configuration, it takes very little time to manage.
  • Third, no backups have failed since he introduced the HYDRAstor, and it works 90% faster than when he was using tape.
  • Fourth, he has found it has reduced his stress level. Aside from alleviating his backup concerns, the HYDRAstor provides him a solid foundation that he can use to build for the future. He no longer has the traditional worries of how he will manage, upgrade or migrate data to new storage systems, because the HYDRAstor accounts for all of these concerns with its grid storage architecture.

In the next few months, Paulk plans to archive about one million documents to the HYDRAstor, which will consume about another 1.4 TBs of storage. What he is curious to discover is how they will impact his deduplication ratio. These one million documents are currently paper documents that need to be scanned so he wonders how they will impact the level of deduplication that he is seeing with his backup data once they are stored on the HYDRAstor. My plan is to catch up and speak with Mr. Paulk again this fall so DCIG can share some more of his story and experiences at that time.

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