The Thought Process, Part Two: Moving to NextGen Storage

Posted by VIOLIN SYSTEMS on Mar 25, 2016 12:58:07 PM

Ferrellgas Truck

I will not be selling you anything in this blog. I will be sharing a small part of the thought process Ferrellgas (NYSE: FGP) exercised as they evaluated their flash storage options and why they decided to go with Violin Systems and the 7300 Flash Storage Platform at their last refresh.

Maybe reading this can save you some time.

As we discussed in my last blog, Ferrellgas went into the market looking for their next generation storage platform for a range of reasons:

  • Faster performance,
  • More capacity
  • Better initial and operating costs
  • Simplified data management
  • Better data protection

After extensive online research, Ferrellgas narrowed down their choices and solicited proposals from EMC, IBM, NetApp, and Violin, ultimately selecting the Violin 7300 Flash Storage Platform (FSP).

The early stages of the decision process focused on technical factors. In particular, Ferrellgas liked Violin’s underlying architecture. Instead of simulating traditional spinning disks, the custom flash modules (CFMs) in a Violin FSP 7300 are directly exposed, avoiding unnecessary overhead and improving performance. The NAND flash worked differently than SSD. Ferrellgas saw this as a generational leap to a new approach for storage.

An appreciation of the technology led to high expectations for performance. We will dive deeper into the impacts of choosing Violin’s FSP 7300 in a later blog. For now, it is fair to say they were impressed.

Capacity, or more accurately storage density, was an important strategic consideration. Company data sets were expected to grow rapidly due to organic business growth as well as the company’s aggressive, disciplined acquisition strategy. Initial density of 72TB raw capacity in 3RU, scalable to more than a petabyte in a single namespace met their requirements.

Ferrellgas identified Violin’s lower initial purchase price for the given capacity and performance as another factor in their decision, as well as being able to avoid the costs associated with third party data management. With the FSP 7300, they essentially put all of their data on tier zero flash storage for the best price and now drive policy-based storage management from a single pane of glass.

They identified footprint-driven saving in their data center as factors they considered after performance, capacity and feature set, and finally, they noted a great reduction on support and maintenance costs.

Ferellgas was also sensitive to a factor we will call “cultural alignment”, working with a flash vendor who treated them the way Ferrellgas treats their customers. They don’t view Violin as a vendor, but a partner who shares their commitment, their culture, and their company character.

I share all this with you now because may be facing some of the same challenges, considering some of the same factors as you explore options. If you would like to learn more, you can click here to listen to our conversation with Ferrellgas and others recorded live on December 15th, 2015.

To be continued...

Topics: database consolidation, database, Databases, flash memory, flash storage