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Zadara VPSA helps Gilt move storage into AWS

According to Gilt's senior systems engineer, the online shopping site can provision storage faster and at a lower cost using Zadara VSPA in AWS.

Online shopping site Gilt eliminated the need to provision logical unit numbers (LUNs) and add disk drives to keep up with data growth by moving all of its storage into the cloud.

By migrating from HP 3PAR StoreServ arrays to Zadara Virtual Private Storage Arrays (VPSAs) in the Amazon cloud, the site also realized a substantial cost savings.

Zadara's VPSA is OpenStack-based software that enables block and file storage on Amazon Web Services (AWS) or other clouds. Customers pay a monthly subscription, with rates depending on performance options and capacity.

Zadara gives customers dedicated virtual machines on AWS. Customers can mix Serial-Attached SCSI and SATA solid-state drives (SSDs), depending on capacity and performance requirements. Customers provision storage through a Web portal.

Gilt senior systems engineer Anders Holm inherited an HP 3PAR array when he joined the New York-based company in June 2014. At the time, Gilt was preparing to move its compute resources from its New York data center to AWS. Because provisioning storage was taking too long to keep up with Gilt's dynamic needs, Holm thought it would be a good idea to explore moving storage to the cloud, too.

"AWS gave us more flexibility, spinning up resources on-the-go versus adding physical hardware," he said. "With physical hardware, the lead time was much longer to get new systems in place."

After Gilt moved compute in the cloud, Holm said it became more difficult to manage on-premises storage.

"From AWS, it became cumbersome to manage our 3PAR systems," he said. "So, we thought, 'why not look at alternatives that can work in the data center and AWS?' We started looking at cloud-based NFS solutions and came across Zadara. When we saw the flexibility, speed and cost of VPSA, we thought it was compelling in comparison to what we had."

Gilt migrated approximately 18 TB of data off its 3PAR array into AWS in April, copying data from 3PAR into the Zadara VPSA storage, so it would look the same for visitors when they logged into the site. All of Gilt's data now resides in the cloud. Holm said the website reduced storage costs approximately 85% from the price of its monthly lease of the old 3PAR arrays.

He said it is also much easier to manage storage now, without having to deal with LUNs and to physically add disk.

With Zadara, we can just add more disks into the VPSAs, add those to our pools and grow our shares as we need.
Anders Holm, Senior Systems Engineer, Gilt

"When we needed more storage with 3PAR, we needed to throw more disks at it, set up a LUN, then throw that LUN into the existing server," he said. "With Zadara, we can just add more disks into the VPSAs, add those to our pools and grow our shares as we need. Having to buy disk and create tickets, [and] create new LUNs, that was taking a lot of time. Now, we're down to minutes or maybe a couple of hours to add storage, versus days or even a couple of weeks before."

Holm said he actually got a performance boost moving to the cloud, with reduced latencies and higher IOPS, because Gilt uses the Zadara VPSA SSD caching capabilities.

Gilt also decommissioned its tape and disk backup libraries, and takes advantage of Zadara's automatic snapshots in AWS. Holm said he plans to use Zadara's capability to replicate data to another geographic region for high availability, but that has not yet begun.

Holm said he will probably eventually use Amazon Simple Storage Service for backup data and Amazon Glacier for long-term archiving.

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