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Zadara Storage scalable cloud aids online learning provider

With a growing environment, learning management system host Moonami integrated Zadara VPSA for scalable cloud storage with Zadara Backup to Amazon Simple Storage Service.

Facing a massive surge in storage capacity, Moonami Learning Solutions moved its file storage completely into the cloud with Zadara Storage Virtual Private Storage Array and Amazon Web Services.

Indianapolis-based Moonami is a cloud hosting provider for the Moodle open source learning management system, used by corporate and higher education customers. The four-year-old startup provides Moodle-specific services ranging from customization and implementation to migration and multi-tier support.

Moonami replaced GlusterFS file storage with VPSA, using SATA solid-state drives and built-in RAID 10 data protection for scalable cloud storage in AWS. The VPSA engine controller has six CPUs and 16 GB of RAM.

Moonami's Moodle hosting service is built on AWS, with automated incremental backups on Zadara's Backup to Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) for continuous data protection.

Moonami has no physical storage infrastructure. Its Zadara Storage instance runs as a virtual machine hosted on AWS. Zadara appears as a mounted Ubuntu Linux volume in the Moonami software stack.

Moonami switched to Zadara Storage scalable cloud to handle a capacity surge from 3 TB to 20 TB over the past 18 months, which Moonami president John Porten attributes to increased adoption of Moodle-based learning applications. With the scalable cloud storage, Porten said he also experienced performance gains and easier management than he had with the previous set up of GlusterFS in Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS).

The Moonami storage consists of growing Moodle file directories, documents, backup files and images associated with expanded online course catalogs.

"We were using AWS EBS data stores and running GlusterFS in a couple of availability zones," Porten said. "It worked, but it was slow and painful. We had some synchronization issues with reads and writes going across the two availability zones. If we needed to move a 300 gigabyte file, it would take about four hours to synchronize."

Porten said eliminating GlusterFS in favor of Zadara to support Common Internet File System and NFS protocols has cut IT administration time by 20 hours a week and resulted in 45% savings in storage costs. 

"This was more of an internal resource issue for us," Porten said. "We are able to get things quicker by not having someone babysit Gluster."

Porten said the switch gives Moonami scalable cloud storage with low-cost backup to Amazon S3 that meets recovery time objectives of less than one hour.

Zadara Storage's Backup to S3 service takes incremental RAID 10 drive snapshots each hour of the day. The snapshots eventually get moved to Amazon Glacier for long-term backup file storage.

"As a small company, being able to virtualize scalable cloud storage is a huge difference-maker," he said. "We could not afford to run this type of infrastructure in house."

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