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Law firm makes compelling case for Pure Storage all-flash

CSK Legal first used Pure Storage all-flash arrays to move VMs to VMware vSphere. Primary Pure FlashArray replicates VMs to second target used exclusively for backups.

Like most law firms, billing and caseload management are top priorities at Cole, Scott and Kissane. The Miami-based law firm, more commonly known as CSK, operates 13 offices with more than 4,400 attorneys. Visibility into that data was challenging as it migrated data to VMware vSphere from Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization.

To support the transition to VMware, CSK added Pure Storage all-flash FlashArray//M arrays with 30 TB for primary data and a second FlashArray block array for replicating snapshots.

CIO Jason Thomas said he went looking for a SAN to consolidate storage for Microsoft SQL Server databases, document management, files and operational data. The focus was on ensuring data integrity and high availability.

"We had some storage in our data center, but most of our data was spread across the different offices. Before migrating to VMware, I knew we needed a centralized storage platform," Thomas said.

Jason Thomas, CIO, Cole, Scott & KissaneJason Thomas

Thomas said he wanted quick access to data in CSK's case management and billing systems. He also wanted storage with comprehensive data features that was also easy to manage.

The FlashArray block system is the Pure Storage all-flash flagship. Thomas said he received positive feedback from an industry colleague. Although he wasn't necessarily looking for flash performance, Thomas said he was encouraged to test the Pure Storage system.

"Getting all-flash wasn't a main driver at the time, but it's where we ended up," Thomas said.

Pure Storage FlashArray for primary, backup

The Pure array won out over Hewlett Packard Enterprise 3PAR and Tintri VMstore hybrid flash systems. Thomas described HPE 3PAR as "legacy-ish" and said he harbored concerns about Tintri's long-term viability. (High-performance computing storage specialist DDN acquired Tintri out of bankruptcy in 2018).

The fact that Pure Storage allows customers to update controllers at no cost every three years clinched the decision, Thomas said. That was key, because CSK did not want to hire a specialized storage administrator. "With Pure, I can continuously expand within the same unit," he said.

Pure Storage FlashArray
Pure Storage FlashArray is the vendor's all-flash flagship

Pure Storage all-flash customers sometimes use the vendor's FlashBlade NAS product as a backup target. Thomas said CSK opted for a multi-tiered approach to backup with Pure's block-based FlashArray. In addition to one in its main data center, CSK maintains a secondary data center exclusively for backups, with FlashArray as the target. For failover, CSK deploys Rubrik software to archive immutable backups.

"One thing I really like about Pure is the snapshots. We do Pure-to-Pure snapshots every five minutes on FlashArray. We could spin up VMs from the Rubrik, but we've never had to," Thomas said.

To handle disaster recovery, CSK deploys Zerto hypervisor-based replication and, as an additional safeguard, replicates VMs to Amazon Web Services using cloud-based data protection software by Clumio.

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