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All-flash or hybrid storage? Why not both? Hutchinson (Kansas) Clinic became one of Nimble Storage's first all-flash customers when it purchased an AF9000 system in February. But the all-flash system complements rather than replaces Hutchinson's three Nimble hybrid arrays.
Christopher Swartz, Hutchinson's senior network and server analyst, has distinct uses in mind for all four of the Nimble SAN arrays.
Hutchinson Clinic first installed the Nimble Storage Predictive Flash Platform to boost the performance of transactional databases and VMware virtual machines (VMs). Installing the Nimble SAN also has helped the medical-surgical facility craft a disaster recovery strategy, after going years without one.
Nimble's Predictive Flash Platform consists of Nimble AF Series all-flash arrays and Nimble Adaptive Flash hybrid arrays, which are available in several models.
"I have three separate Nimble arrays replicating to a fourth Nimble array downtown," Swartz said. "I am now able to have real-time replication of my production SQL Server cluster and my production VMs. I also have a second copy of my backup data."
Hutchinson Clinic has methodically evolved to an all-Nimble shop during the past several years, culminating in the purchase of the Nimble AF9000 in February, shortly before Nimble's AF Series became generally available. Hutchinson's Nimble SAN configuration also includes CS700, CS235 and CS440 Adaptive Flash hybrid arrays. The Nimble storage replaced IBM System Storage DS470, IBM TotalStorage DS400, and NetApp FAS 2240 SAN arrays.
Hutchinson Clinic dedicated its Nimble AFA9000 array to Microsoft SQL Server databases that run electronic health records (EHR) and practice-management applications. That move allowed it to shift its Nimble CS700 box to two VMware clusters that serve more than 200 production VMs, including file, Microsoft Exchange and web servers.
Swartz said Hutchinson's EHR records exceed a terabyte of storage and the practice management database is close to 500 GB. The clinic has about 650 employees and 90 physicians, and "those database clusters are used by just about every member of the organization on a daily basis," he said.
Gradual Nimble SAN implementation supports offsite replication
Christopher Swartzsenior network and server analyst, Hutchinson Clinic
Along with adding Nimble's all-flash array, the clinic in 2016 implemented a Nimble CS235 target as a Veeam Software repository for VMware backups. Nimble SAN-to-SAN replication backs up primary storage from Hutchinson's data center to an offsite Nimble CS440 Adaptive Flash target at a recently established DR site. The CS440, Hutchinson's first Nimble array, initially was used to replace an IBM SAN attached to VMware storage.
"I started with the CS440, graduated to the CS700, and now I've made the natural progression to (Nimble) all-flash. But as you can tell, I'm still going to be heavily utilizing the hybrid arrays in addition," Swartz said. "The hybrid arrays give us the extreme speed and capacity we need. The all-flash array doesn't have as much capacity as the hybrid, but it gives us the performance for transactional workloads."
The AF Series was Nimble's first all-flash storage platform after years of selling hybrid arrays that mix solid-state drives and hard disk. Before buying the AF9000, Swartz considered adding a CS440 array or a CS500 to support offsite backup and replication.
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