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Upgrade to VM-Aware storage improves application performance and simplifies management

Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte logo

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte was established January 12, 1972. It comprises 92 separate parishes, four missions, 19 Catholic schools, a conference center, a retreat center, and numerous Catholic charity facilities located throughout the western half of North Carolina. The total population of the Diocese is 4.1 million people, and approximately 300,000 of those are members of the Catholic Church.

IT challenges

Scott Long is the director of IT for the Diocese of Charlotte. He and one system administrator manage the IT infrastructure and services for nine of the organization’s 16 schools, all of the Catholic Charities offices, and The Catholic Conference Center in Hickory, North Carolina. “We were relying on a collection of aging Dell EqualLogic storage systems for our production environment,” noted Long. “The systems were reaching end of life and we were running out of disk space on our backup SAN. We wanted to find a more powerful storage platform that would enable us to implement thin client solutions for all of our schools and main office in Charlotte.”

Long tried to improve performance of the existing Dell systems before searching for a new solution. “We added flash shelves and increased the amount of caching on the Dell hosts,” reported Nathan Vari, IT systems administrator for the Diocese of Charlotte. “Unfortunately, neither approach was able to solve all of the issues effectively. We then made the decision to repurpose our existing Dell iSCSI SAN for backups, and purchase a newer storage platform that could give us the speed we needed for our production environment.”

Choosing Tintri

Vari first encountered Tintri while attending a VMware User Group (VMUG) event in North Carolina. “One of Tintri’s systems engineers started talking about the VMstore storage systems,” Vari shared. “Since this SE had been a Tintri customer before he joined Tintri, he was able to provide details from the customer’s point of view. His perspective as a user convinced me that Tintri was by far the best solution for our Diocese.”

In addition to evaluating Tintri, Long and Vari also looked at the newer Dell offerings and several other vendors’ storage solutions. “There were some interesting options on the market, but none of them had everything that Tintri offered in one unit,” Long explained. “Not a single one could beat Tintri for its combination of speed, space savings features, and ease of administration at an affordable price point. All of those criteria were big selling points for me.”

“Tintri rose to the top of our list for a couple of reasons,” Vari added. “One, we liked the idea of not having to manage the VM-aware storage system. We also liked how the de-duplication software works on Tintri, enabling us to maximize the amount of space in our systems. Once we saw the high performance from all of the flash in the Tintri system, we were sold.”

Faster deployment

The Diocese of Charlotte purchased a Tintri T820 system for its production workloads, including Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Active Directory, file and print servers, ten SQL Server databases, Microsoft Lync 2013, and several different archival and tribunal applications.

“The implementation was very straightforward. It actually took us longer to set up the switches than it did to set up the SAN. We started moving a couple of servers over to the new Tintri system immediately, and let them run for a few weeks to see how things were going. All workloads worked beautifully, as expected. Looking back, the only thing I would have done differently was to read the Tintri Best Practices document before I started the implementation. All of the valuable tips in that guide would have make the deployment even easier. Other than that, everything went very well.”

Leveraging Tintri deduplication and snapshots

“Tintri’s deduplication feature has enabled us to save a lot of disk space,” noted Vari. “Our 30 TB Dell environment was reduced to just 12 TB on Tintri. We still have a few more VMs to move over to the T820, but we’re already saving at least 25% or more on disk space. We also love the Tintri snapshots. We weren't able to take snapshots of our VMs on the Dell systems, so that has improved our DR capabilities significantly.”

Proactive Tintri support

“We haven’t had the need to call Tintri support yet, but they've contacted us a few times,” Long reported. “We really love the Tintri ‘phone home’ feature. If we ever have a problem with a disk, it’s nice to know that Tintri will know about even before we do. That level of proactive support is giving us lots of peace of mind.”

Better performance sets the stage for VDI and thin clients

“The Tintri systems are much faster than our old Dell EqualLogic systems,” according to Long. “It used to take 30 to 60 seconds to log into our systems, it now takes under 10 seconds. Our users are very happy with the faster response.”

The Tintri systems are enabling the Diocese to move forward with several new IT initiatives. “I have been pushing for a virtual desktop initiative project for a very long time. With Tintri, we have enough performance and capacity to implement VDI without having to buy an additional SAN. It is also enabling us to offer a thin client solution to all of our constituents and guarantee a good customer experience. None of this would have been possible without Tintri,” Vari concluded.


Highlights

​Geography

Charlotte, North Carolina

Virtualization environment

VMware vSphere 5.5 (30 VMs)

Traditional storage: Dell EqualLogic systems

VM profile

MS Office Suite, SQL databases, various archival and tribunal systems

Key challenges

Existing storage systems provided poor performance for virtual environment

Needed more storage capacity for backups

Tintri solution

Tintri VMstore™ T820

Primary use case

All production workloads have been moved to Tintri.

Business benefits

Cut remote desktop login times from 60 seconds to less than 10 seconds

Simplified storage management

Achieved a 25% reduction in space using TIntri deduplication

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