Australian Rugby Union goes all flash for storage

Flash storage expected to reduce costs, speed applications

The Australian Rugby Union has enhanced performance of its real-time analytics and telemetry applications by going all flash for storage, according to ARU IT infrastructure manager Nick Payne.

The ARU has moved from EMC disk-based storage to 100 per cent flash storage from Pure Storage, Payne said at a media lunch hosted by Pure Storage. The customer unveiling coincided with Pure Storage announcing two new FlashArrays and a new version of its Purity operating environment.

The ARU is the not-for-profit organisation that supports state divisions and rugby unions across the nation. From an IT perspective, the ARU provides shared services for the unions, giving them access to greater IT capability at less cost.

The unions and state divisions rely on ARU shared services for CMS, team management tools and large amounts of video content for coaching resources, he said.

ARU has data scientists who analyse game and player videos and then share them across the network via a centralised archive. With up to eight games a week and up to eight camera feeds at every game, the ARU has a significant amount of data to store and move around.

Payne said the ARU was running out of storage space and maintenance costs were expensive.

“One of the biggest issues we had was around managing the capacities,” Payne said. “We were essentially purchasing capacity to match our actual usage.”

When the ARU came to the end of its contract with previous storage vendor EMC, the organisation looked for an alternative storage platform, he said.

The ARU considered full-disk, disk-flash hybrids and flash-only platforms, but in the end chose Pure Storage for its price and performance benefits, he said. Payne decided that going all flash seemed like the most “future-proof” path.

“[Pure] also enabled us to provide services back to the unions at a much more cost-effective rate for us,” he said. The ARU believed it would greatly reduce maintenance costs because the Pure unit is easier to manage, he said.

Payne said the ARU is already seeing benefits from flash storage after only a few weeks of use.

“All of our database and business applications have seen improvements across the board in responsiveness,” he said.

In particular, performance of ARU’s real-time analytics and player telemetry applications has “massively improved”, he said. The applications, which allow teams to track many attributes about the game and its athletes, are critical to the wellbeing of the ARU’s rugby players, he said.

Payne said the enhanced performance has also opened the possibility of ARU exploring business intelligence and big data in the future.

At the same time, Pure’s data reduction capability has reduced ARU’s storage requirements by nearly 80 per cent to 10.5 TB, down from 52 TB, he said. ARU has dropped its physical space requirements from 20 to four rack units, saving power in the data centre, he said.

Pure Storage revealed ARU as a customer as it announced two new products in its FA-400 Series line. An entry-level product, the FA-405 provides 40 TB of usable space in a 1U controller form factor that is half the size of the existing FA-420 product.

Pure Storage also announced a high-capacity model, the FA-450, which provides up to 250 TB of usable space, twice what is offered in the FA-420.

The flash storage company has also released Purity 4.0, a new version of the software that runs the storage environment. Among other things, the new release adds a native replication, snapshot and policy management service called FlashRecover.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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