How to Go Green, Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

XtremIO was recently a named a winner of the Green Enterprise IT (GEIT) award for 2012 by the Uptime Institute, an independent education and consulting division of The 451 Group. An international panel of judges selected XtremIO in the IT Product Deployment category for installation of an XtremIO 100% flash enterprise storage array at a well-known global manufacturer where it dramatically reduced environmental requirements (data center floor space, power consumption and cooling requirements) for a large SAP/Oracle application, while simultaneously improving SAP processing times by an order of magnitude and eliminating complex configuration and performance tuning requirements. XtremIO won the award in good company. The other finalist in our category was Cisco. Other 2012 winners include Facebook, Verizon, Bell Canada, NTT, HP, eBay, and Dell.

XtremIO and other GEIT winners will be honored at the Uptime Institute Symposium in Santa Clara, CA, on May 14-17. XtremIO will present a case study about our customer’s award-winning initiative and how they have benefited far beyond the green computing advantages. For those not attending the Uptime Institute event, here’s the story behind the award.

Our customer is the European division of a leading global manufacturing company with a large Oracle/SAP environment that places high I/O demands on its database storage system. Historically, these I/O demands were met with ever-increasing numbers of hard disk drives in an enterprise storage system, leading to high levels of inefficiency, energy consumption, and difficulty adapting to growth.

The SAP system, as is typical, has both a production database and several copies for development and test. There is also a data warehouse with its own development and test copies. In total, the existing storage environment spanned two full racks of equipment (120 enterprise class 15K RPM hard drives in a RAID 10 configuration for production, plus a similar number of SATA drives for development and test) and the production environment peaked at 30,000 IOPS while straining to support 1,200 users across Europe who rely on the system for business processes such as inventory, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and sales. Multiple processing jobs and analytics are run against the environment, with processing times having an important impact on the organization’s ability to plan, execute, and report on its business.

The existing storage environment was purchased from a leading vendor at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars. Since the system was reliant on RAID 10 in order to deliver adequate performance, capacity utilization metrics were very low (50% of capacity is lost just to data protection, and capacity is massively over-provisioned in order to reach desired IOPS levels). See our blog post on this topic. The production storage system alone physically required 40U of rack space (one complete rack), consumed approximately 3.85 kilowatts of electricity and required 13,100 BTU/hr of cooling capacity in the data center. Power, cooling and rack space charges accrued at their hosting provider contributed over $100K per year to the customer’s operating expenses.

The XtremIO solution was a radical change from the bulky, expensive, power-hungry disk array. But not just because of the exceptional environmental efficiency. XtremIO provided a better operational model for administering the complex Oracle/SAP environment.

When the XtremIO array was installed, several things immediately changed:

  • SAP/Oracle processing times were accelerated from 5-10x, depending on the job. A single 3U XtremIO building block (remember that our system scales out, but in this case the customer’s needs were met with a single building block) delivered 147,000 IOPS compared to the 30,000 of their existing production system. Amazingly, XtremIO could have gone even faster! The customer’s SAP servers became the bottleneck in the system once the storage I/O bottleneck was removed. Further acceleration is anticipated once the customer upgrades their SAP servers.
  • The environmental footprint was substantially reduced. The existing disk system (two racks for production and development/test) burning over 7 kilowatts of electricity could be completely supplanted with a 3U appliance consuming 1/10th the power. This alone would pay for the XtremIO array over a few years.
  • The ongoing tasks of provisioning and tuning Oracle and SAP to get good performance were completely eliminated. XtremIO arrays require zero provisioning steps or tuning expertise to deliver their performance.
  • Rather than cloning the database with physical copies for development and test purposes, the customer can leverage XtremIO’s real-time, inline deduplication and advanced snapshots to create unlimited, instantaneous, space-efficient, full performance databases copies on-demand. In other words – a 1TB database with 10 dev/test copies used to consume 11TB of usable storage space. With XtremIO it consumes 1TB, performs better and is easier to manage.

The GEIT awards are focused on the environmental impact of IT projects – factors that significantly reduce energy consumption and resource use. But while our winning project was impressive for its green IT impact, that’s only the beginning of the story here.

XtremIO’s all-flash arrays are a no-compromise solution that let you have your cake, eat it too and still get ice cream on the side. Justifying IT projects is never easy. But when you can show the perfect trifecta of savings – lower CapEx, lower OpEx, and improved performance – it changes the conversation from justifying the expenditure to justifying any reason why you wouldn’t do it right away.

The quantifiable cost savings of switching to XtremIO are substantial: a capital acquisition cost saving of nearly $100,000 combined with a three-year projected combined capital and operational costs savings of $760,000, more than enough to pay for the XtremIO flash array and have a lot of spare change.

But the XtremIO story gets even better. Our customer’s business saw productivity improvements powered by increasing the performance of the SAP infrastructure by 10x, allowing faster processing of reports and analytics. How would your company benefit if you could accelerate your business applications from hours down to minutes?

There are still more advantages that have yet be quantified. Beyond giving new life to existing applications and processes, the switch to an XtremIO flash array enabled the customer to think about implementing new analytics that were previously impossible to run because of prohibitive processing times. These advanced database queries will provide better business intelligence, allowing the customer to improve inventory management, develop better sales forecasts and gain tighter control over invoicing and accounts receivable.

Along with the performance, cost and green computing benefits, our customer was also treated to another unexpected advantage: extreme ease of use. The difficulties expected in bringing up a new enterprise storage system simply weren’t there. XtremIO is a simple drop-in replacement that installs seamlessly and is compatible with existing storage connectivity, protocols, applications and storage management interfaces. No complicated re-architecting of the storage network and no time-consuming provisioning or tuning of the XtremIO system was needed. The experience was a pain-free transition to the power of XtremIO storage for the customer’s storage engineers. Instead of tweaking and tuning our system they were free to focus on upgrading their servers to take full advantage of the XtremIO array.

All of this was achieved with a straight out-of-the-box XtremIO system with no customization or tuning required – in a matter of hours. We’re very proud to have been recognized by GEIT for the environmental efficiency of our product and hope you have enjoyed this story of how XtremIO saves on space/power/cooling and much, much more.

About the Author: Dell Technologies