When a new director of infrastructure arrived at Chapman in 2015, one of his early priorities was to introduce solid-state storage technology. “We were glad to hear that, as we knew the performance benefits that solid state provides, so we were eager to participate in the search for a provider,” says John Carver, a database and storage administrator at Chapman.
The Tech Decision
After extensive research, the choice came down to the university’s incumbent storage vendor and Pure Storage.
“Pure Storage was the better choice across the board,” Carver says. “Its business model is unique, it’s simple to manage and easy to expand, and the performance is unmatched.”
During the decision-making process, “the Pure Storage team really stood out,” says James Kelly, the other database and storage administrator at Chapman. “It was clear whom we wanted to work with.”
“I can’t imagine storage faster than the Pure Storage array,” Kelly says. “As an Oracle DBA, I am totally focused on getting the lowest latencies possible. Pure Storage makes our databases run faster than they even need to. And the availability and reliability are a ‘10 out of 10’.”
Chapman University’s IT team installed and set up the Pure Storage arrays in an hour, a sharp contrast to the days or weeks required for legacy systems. In addition, Pure’s Evergreen storage model ensures continued value and convenience with automatic, non-disruptive upgrades. The promise of the Evergreen program is that there is no disruption and zero dollars wasted on every-three-year ‘forklift’ upgrades. The fact that seamless upgrades are built in as part of Evergreen is a greatly beneficial.
Chapman operates two data centers on campus, with a disaster-recovery site at a co-location facility in Nevada. Virtually all university activities, with the exception of research, are supported by PeopleSoft CRM for Higher Education, backed by Oracle databases. A data warehouse runs on Microsoft SQL Server.
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The PeopleSoft applications and Oracle databases are hosted on a FlashStack configuration consisting of Cisco UCS blade servers, a Pure Storage FlashArray//M20, and VMware vSphere software. Pure Storage’s Flash Arrays are self-managing and plug-n-play simple; no tuning required at any level. Flash Arrays allow safe consolidation of all workloads with consistent mixed workload performance even through failures and upgrades, and allow for all your data services to be built-in and with no performance penalty. This allows for the seamless integration and automation of everything.
FlashArray delivers several important benefits to Chapman. FlashArray is a powerful and resilient solution that has accelerated the ability to deliver new and better services to the constantly-changing campus community. The solution holds out the promise of scale, as needed, without disruption, and allows Chapman to count on the speed and reliability of flash for the diverse, critical workloads. And, the purchase and implementation processes are made to be transparent and seamless.
An early example of the impact from installing Pure Storage came when Chapman’s data warehouse was moved onto the new storage platform. Every night, data from the production Oracle databases is moved into the data warehouse for processing. Consultants from the educational software provider Blackboard “said they had never seen nightly pulls run at the speed they were seeing with Pure,” Kelly says. “And that is with both the Oracle and SQL Server databases running simultaneously on the all-flash array.”
Since installing all-flash arrays from Pure Storage, students, faculty and staff have faster access to the data and applications they use regularly, software development teams complete their work more quickly, and database administrators spend far less time on storage management.
With Pure Storage, Chapman University expects to cut the time needed for routine storage functions by up to 95 percent, and in the early stages, has seen significant maintenance time reduction in existing database and storage operations. The solution’s high data reduction rates allow automated and unlimited cloning of databases with virtually no impact on storage capacity.
Chapman can now clone a database in just a few hours rather than a full business day or more, and expects to reduce host cloning time to 30 minutes or less once it completes its automation project. Chapman is also benefiting from the Pure arrays deduplication and compression features. They report that they are only at one-third capacity of storage after uploading all of their data onto the Pure systems.