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Florida Blood Services Replaces Disparate Storage Platforms With Nimble

For primary storage, backup and replication

This is a Press Release edited by on 2012.02.17
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Nimble Storage announced that Florida Blood Services, a nonprofit provider of blood for critical care, has driven down the cost and complexity of data storage by replacing three disparate storage systems with the Nimble CS240 converged storage array.


In just two months of operation, Florida Blood Services (FBS) has simplified its storage operations, providing centralized storage for its headquarters and 40 field offices and reducing system backups from days to seconds. In addition, by replacing lengthy system backups with frequent incremental snapshots, the service has improved its RTOs, a concern for vital services in a highly regulated environment.

Today, two Nimble arrays at the company's St. Petersburg headquarters host primary storage house 160 virtual machines and provide a direct connection to 40 offices in Florida and Georgia. Two additional Nimble arrays, targeted for disaster recovery, are situated in FBS's nearby Lakeland, Florida, office. FBS's new storage architecture represents a "three-to-one consolidation that has worked magnificently for us," said Calvin Levy, Senior Systems Engineer.

Backup Times from Hours to Seconds
With FBS's previous system, performance degradation was a major challenge. Of the approximately 150 virtual machines under deployment, the storage team could back up only 13 VMs per night without affecting performance for the majority of its users. Backups would require over 40 hours, starting at 7:00 PM Friday and ending at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday.

"With Nimble, we're able to back up all of our volumes in a matter of seconds and make intermediate, scheduled snapshots that take no toll on performance," said Levy.

Snapshots Improve Recovery Time Objectives
Storage snapshots, critical to maintaining an organization's RTOs, had long been an issue for Florida Blood Services, a 24x7 operation requiring data access in real-time. With FBS's previous storage architecture, once a snapshot was placed on a storage server, users would experience noticeable performance degradation. Following a required firmware update, the situation became critical, said Levy. "Regardless of whether we tried to take 20 snapshots or 200, our performance was significantly hampered. Our fall-back position, and not a great alternative, was to rely exclusively on full backups."

Today, Levy and his team use Nimble's integral snapshots. "Across all of our volumes, we have thousands and thousands of snapshots on the system, and we've seen no degradation in performance. We've been so happy with the Nimble snapshotting system that we are pushing for a system-wide 15-minute backup frequency."

Next Evolution in Technology
According to Dan Higley, a Senior Systems Engineer for Florida Blood Services, the architecture and sequential file system of Nimble storage arrays distinguish Nimble from other storage models. "Nimble has taken flash into account and created a cost-effective device that stages data properly, both in flash and disk-based storage, to provide the highest performance at the lowest cost."

He added that the system-wide redundancy of the Nimble array provides an additional measure of assurance. Noting the 24x7 nature of FBS, he said that his team had replaced a controller and tested a new controller without having to power down the array. "Staying 100 percent operational is critically important in our environment."

"Critical-service organizations in regulated environments face the continual challenge of 24x7 uptime and rapid access to vital data," said Suresh Vasudevan, CEO of Nimble Storage. "We're delighted to have supported Florida Blood Service's migration to an architecture that consolidates their storage systems, helps them meet regulatory mandates, and offers the reserve capacity to support growth."