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Reinhart Law Goes “All-In” with Tintri to Solve VDI Performance Issues

Tintri Reduces Latency from Seconds to Milliseconds, Eliminates Burden of Managing Two SANS, and Cuts IT Costs by 75%

Overview

Founded in 1894, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren is now one of the nation’s largest law firms. With more than 200 lawyers, the firm serves corporate, institutional and individual clients throughout the United States and internationally with a combination of legal advice, business acumen and superior customer service. By offering innovative, cost-effective legal counsel from seven US offices, Reinhart has established a well-earned reputation as one of the nation’s most trusted advisors in corporate law.

Slow Migration and Complex Management

Reinhart migrated from its aging EqualLogic platform to NetApp storage back in 2011. “It took three years to complete the migration,” admitted Jerry Bishop, director of IT at Reinhart. “We had to configure all of the LUNs and volumes, and perform a lot of complex provisioning tasks to make the change. It was a very painful and time-consuming migration project for our IT team.”

Although the new environment provided better performance, the new storage environment was still not meeting the firm’s needs. “Our two NetApp SANs were never fully functional or very efficient,” noted Bishop. “And since we couldn’t justify hiring a dedicated storage admin, everyone on our team had to go through specialized classes just to figure out how to use the new environment. We wanted to find a simpler storage solution that we could all easily manage without extensive training.”

Insufficient VDI Performance

Reinhart was using VMware View to provide 500 persistent virtual desktops for the firm’s lawyers, legal assistants and staff. “We were one of the first law firms in the country to implement VDI,” explained Bishop. “We are now 100% virtualized, but unfortunately, the performance of our VMware platform was not meeting our requirements and the VDI performance was very poor. Our users were constantly calling to complain about lag in their applications. When we started looking into the cause of the VDI issues, all roads lead back to the legacy storage as the bottleneck.”

In addition to attending training sessions to learn more about the storage environment, Bishop also tried reaching out to local partners to figure out how to solve the storage performance issues. “To be a competitive law firm, we have to make sure we manage our operational spend,” said Bishop. “But the administrative cost and burden of the NetApp environment was simply too high. Our admins were spending all of their time just keeping the platform running and tuning it as our load profiles changed, rather than focusing on more strategic projects. The time-to-value for the NetApp solution was insufficient for our needs.”

Needing Better Backup and Disaster Recovery

Bishop was also looking for better backup and remote disaster recovery options for the law firm’s mission-critical data. “We could never get SnapManager to work properly for our needs, due to the underlying performance issues with our legacy storage,” explained Bishop. “Whenever we tried to do replication, it sucked up so much bandwidth and resources that it further degraded performance for VDI.”

Searching for a New Storage Platform

Bishop and his team began looking for a new storage platform to address the VDI performance and storage management challenges. Bishop selected a number of platforms to evaluate, including purpose-built solutions from Nimble, Tintri, XIO, and an SSD upgrade option from NetApp. But the NetApp option would have required them to upgrade all of their controllers – resulting in a full replacement of the existing storage environment. The prospect of also having to possibly relearn everything for cluster mode was also not very appealing.

Bishop and his team then viewed a series of online demos on the storage options, talked to peers at other companies running enterprise apps and other demanding workloads the different platforms, and reviewed numerous industry blogs and reports. They also considered the option of using an “all-in-one” box with both compute and storage including Nutanix. “A converged compute and storage solution is an interesting approach, but we didn’t have a compute problem – our problem was just storage,” Bishop explained.

Achieving Faster Time-to-Value

Reinhart bought its first Tintri T650 for the law firm’s VMware View VDI environment in 2013. “We purchased our first T650 for VDI for one-third of the cost of the NetApp options,” noted Bishop. “We started migrating off the NetApp slowly, moving just a bit each day to see how it would run. Once we saw how easy it was to migrate and how well it was running, we moved everything over. The Tintri installation was completely uneventful – in a positive way – with no surprises, no glitches, and a great outcome. And by eliminating the three-month rollout we would have encountered had we chosen to upgrade with the legacy vendor, we were able to get better performance to our users much sooner on their virtual desktops. The time-to-value was immediate with the Tintri device.”

Reinhart Law is now running over 500 persistent desktops on Tintri. “We originally planned to purchase just one Tintri for our VDI environment,” Bishop related. “But our NetApp arrays were also coming due for refresh. Since the annual maintenance costs alone were approximately $190K on NetApp -- and we still had to address our remaining storage performance issues, replication, and encryption. After looking at the options from NetApp and the other flash and converged solutions – that’s when we made the “All-In with Tintri” decision. It was one of the smartest IT decisions we have ever made.”

Obtaining a Better Storage Solution at a Lower Cost

“Our legacy storage environment was unnecessarily complex,” Bishop said. “It took far too much time to perform replication with SnapManager, and create LUNS and volumes. By moving to Tintri, we eliminated that huge administrative burden. More important, because the time-to-proficiency with Tintri for admins is effectively zero, we can execute changes much faster and we don’t have to send anyone to training or hire the storage vendor to set it up. We can now focus on enterprise projects like security improvements and service innovation without bringing in supplemental labor.”

“Tintri provides unmatched simplicity with comprehensive visibility and reporting capabilities,” added Bishop. “It enables us to see down into each individual desktop and workstation, not just to the LUN-level like our previous storage platform. And to top things off, even after the heavy negotiations with our incumbent storage vendor, the legacy solution for our VDI workload was three times the cost of Tintri.”

Eliminating Latency

Tintri has eliminated a ‘huge chunk’ of latency in the law firm’s VDI environment. “Before Tintri, we measured latency in seconds, now its microseconds,” Bishop reported. “Lag in the desktop environment was resulting in lost productivity and many unsatisfied employees. With Tintri, our average latency is down to just .06 μs. Our call volume is down and user satisfaction is up. That’s important, because at the end of the day, happy users equal happy clients.”

Re-Implementing VDI

Now that Tintri has solved the firm’s storage problems, Bishop and his team can focus on re-implementing VMware View to optimize the virtual desktops. “Lawyers and legal assistants spend a lot of time on their desktops – developing documents, reading legal briefs, and marking them up,” noted Bishop. “To be productive, desktop performance has to be as fast as possible. Instead of having a long, drawn-out implementation for the upgrade of our existing SAN, we are now focused now on re-implementing our desktops.”

Rethinking Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans

With an all Tintri storage solution, Bishop and his team are rethinking the firm’s business continuity and disaster recovery plans. “There are really two factors at work here,” said Bishop. “First, with the built-in replication capabilities and tight partnerships with Veeam, we have an opportunity to simplify our back-up and DR strategy and reduce the complexity of our recovery process. Second, because of the low cost of Tintri, we will be able to expand our DR scope to include all virtual desktops and commit to faster RTOs on many more systems.”

Compliance and Data Security

“We are taking a progressive approach to data privacy and security where regulatory compliance is only the starting point,” noted Bishop. “We have noticed an increased client expectation for data security. Our goal is to use our IT controls as a competitive advantage in the market place.” Bishop’s decision to go “All-In” with Tintri means the ability to rely on self- encrypting drives today and add whole disk encryption management tools later this year.

Reducing Data Center Footprint and Power

Tintri has also enabled Reinhart to reduce its data center footprint. “We use co-location services for our primary and secondary data centers,” stated Bishop. “With Tintri, we are now able to implement our new data center plan that will consolidate my footprint from five racks in my primary, down to just two. Moving storage onto the Tintri devices has resulted in significant cost savings for our firm, both in terms of rack space, but also the electricity and cooling spend in our datacenters.

Receiving Excellent Support from Tintri

Bishop and his team received great support from Tintri during the initial configuration, even on issues that weren’t related to the storage. “Tintri helped us plug into our IT management software,” reported Bishop. “The Tintri support reps regularly went ‘above and beyond’ to provide us with direction and advice, not only on the Tintri devices, but on our other systems as well. They have a tremendous depth of expertise on Tintri, but also provide great advice on our other infrastructure as well.”

Concluding Thoughts

“We have received a tremendous amount of value with Tintri – in operational efficiency, VDI performance, and cost savings -- in a very short period of time,” concluded Bishop. “With Tintri, there’s a huge layer of infrastructure I don’t have to worry about anymore. I can now spend my time and attention on delivering more value to the business, not just managing and administering our storage.”


Highlights

Virtualization environment

VMware Horizon View with 500 persistent desktops

ESXi 5.5 VM v10 with 140 servers

Previous storage environment: EqualLogic, then 2 NetApp, 70TB PROD and 32TB DR

VM profile

Elite accounting software, Autonomy document and file management software, Relativity, MS Exchange, MS SharePoint, and other ancillary applications

Key challenges

Overhead of managing two NetApp SANs was highly burdensome

Inadequate VDI performance

Poor replication performance between datacenters

Storage was causing bottlenecks

Needed whole disk encryption

Tintri solution

FourTintriVMstoreTMT650

Primary use case

Delivering secure virtual desktops to 500 end users

Business benefits

Simplified storage administration

Resources can now focus on strategic initiatives

Obtained Tintri storage at 1/3 price of incumbent vendor’s quote

Received superior service and executive commitment to success

Improved security with Tintri’s self-encrypting drives

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