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Atlantic Media Builds Resilient Digital-First Publishing Empire on Tintri Storage

Tintri Increases Visibility, Simplifies Management, and Provides Resiliency for Virtualized Web Applications

Overview

Atlantic Media is an award-winning print and online media company based in Washington, D.C. The company produces several highly respected news magazines and digital publications, including The Atlantic, Government Executive, National Journal, and now Quartz. Atlantic Media’s innovative portfolio of digital, print, event, social, and mobile platforms engages an influential audience of over 30 million worldwide readers each month, across all sectors – from consumers to business leaders, media representatives to government agencies around the world.

IT Challenges

Atlantic Media’s corporate IT department is responsible for supporting all of the company’s complex systems architecture needs, and works closely with each division’s application development teams. Atlantic Media’s IT infrastructure environment was 100% virtualized using VMware vSphere 5.5 with 110 VMs, and Coraid storage appliances.

“Our biggest challenge was the worrisome stability of our existing storage platform and its ability to withstand the tests of time as our traffic continued to increase,” explained Dave Mouyal, associate director of systems and networking at Atlantic Media. “With our ‘digital first’ corporate strategy, guaranteeing maximum uptime for our online applications and publications is key to our success. Unfortunately, we were nowhere near the ‘5-9s’ level of availability we needed with our existing storage environment.”

The Coraid platform was also very difficult to administer, noted Mouyal. “Our previous platform was a bare-bones storage solution,” admitted Mouyal. “With its limited tools and capabilities, we had a lot of difficulty managing the environment and obtaining metrics on how the storage was performing. Whenever we were faced with a technical issue, pinpointing whether or not storage was the culprit was never a simple affair.”

Dealing with LUN Sprawl

Atlantic Media was also dealing with “LUN sprawl” in its traditional storage environment. “Storage complexity had spiraled out of control, making it impossible to view the environment as an aggregate and frustrating our systems administration team,” Mouyal explained. “That sprawl had another negative spinoff effect. Because we were cutting up our storage hardware into so many different partitions, we were also running into storage capacity issues. We weren’t able to rent storage capacity efficiently to our different business units because of the degree of complexity in the traditional environment.”

Looking for a New Solution

Mouyal and his team started looking for a new storage solution that would address the challenges in the traditional storage environment. “We wanted to find a solution that would provide resiliency, and also be able to meet our capacity growth projections for the next five years,” Mouyal said. “The solution should also simplify storage administration, provide real-time visibility into performance metrics, and integrate tightly and easily with our VMware environment.”

Mouyal and his team narrowed the list of contenders down to three; Tintri, Dell EqualLogic, and Nimble. “We compared the features and performance of all three platforms,” Mouyal reported. “Tintri was the clear leader in terms of simplicity, resiliency, and integration with the VMware environment. Tintri has taken a no-frills approach to storage – it doesn’t include any extra nuts and bolts that we don’t need. It fit the mold for exactly what we were looking for, without introducing any unnecessary complexity into our environment.”

Fast Installation and Non-Disruptive Migration

Tintri provided a remote demo of the proposed solution to Mouyal and his team. “They did offer us the option of a ‘try and buy’ on the arrays, but we decided to purchase the two T620s upfront,” Mouyal reported. “The initial setup of the Tintri appliances didn’t take long at all. It was so simple that we used the opportunity to refresh the rest of our virtual environment at the same time. We upgraded all of our VMware servers, and subsequently migrated all of the live running virtual machines from our previous storage platform over to Tintri without powering down a single virtual machine. None of our end users noticed the upgrade, which was quite surprising given the magnitude of the changes that we made.”

Increased Resiliency and Proactive Monitoring

“I no longer have any concerns about the resiliency of our storage hardware,” Mouyal said. “Tintri provides full redundancy and multiple controllers. We can tolerate multiple failures right within the array. It’s also nice to know that we have proactive monitoring from the Tintri support team. If a failure ever does occur, someone at Tintri is going to hear about it right away. Tintri’s proactive approach to monitoring events is a breath of fresh air for us.”

Simple Management and Increased Visibility

Tintri has eliminated all of Atlantic Media’s storage challenges. “We don’t have the headache of setting up all of those different LUNs within the storage array anymore,” noted Mouyal. “And thanks to Tintri’s inline compression and deduplication technology, we’re able to make much more effective use of storage and can increase the amount of available capacity for future projects. That has made our business units very happy.”

“No training was needed to use the Tintri product, it’s just that simple to stand-up and operate,” noted Mouyal. “Tintri also gives us detailed performance metrics, which the other vendors couldn’t come close to. We can drill into the data, all the way down to the individual VMs. Tintri enables us to reassure our business units that our infrastructure is up to the task of coping with all of their high traffic digital initiatives for their publications.”

Finally Obtaining ‘Peace of Mind’

“The biggest benefit of Tintri is the peace of mind I have gained since the installation,” admitted Mouyal. “Tintri has enabled me to spend far less time worrying about our storage architecture, figuring out how to maintain uptime and ensure reliability. With Tintri, I can now focus on supporting all of the new projects our business units are requesting.”


Highlights

Geography

Washington D.C.

Virtualization environment

VMware® vSphere™ 5. 5 (with 110 VMs)

Traditional storage: Coraid

VM profile

Web application stack: Nginx, Apache, PHP/Python, MySQL

Windows 2008, 2012

CentOS Linux, Red Hat Linux

Key challenges

Storage complexity

Inadequate visibility into the performance of virtual machines

Lack of redundancy/resiliency

Tintri solution

Two Tintri VMstore™ T620 appliances

vSphere Web Client Plugin

Primary use case

Tintri storage is being used as the default platform for Atlantic Media’s entire server virtualization environment.

Business benefits

Simplified storage administration

Increased visibility into virtual infrastructure

Achieved fast installation with no downtime

Increased resiliency and uptime for all digital publications

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