UCLA offers flexible and scalable storage with Nexsan


The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has provided superior storage service to its users with the deployment of the Nexsan E-Series.

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) needed to purchase and deploy a storage solution with enough flexibility, capacity, and scalability to serve its diverse user base. This storage also had to be procured to make business sense for the university, given its fee-based computing model.

With the Nexsan E-Series now in its environment, the university provided superior service to its users while exceeding all of the key metrics it set for itself.

The IT infrastructure challenge

UCLA is known worldwide for the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education, and athletic programs. UCLA’s strength is its size, allowing for exceptional diversity and virtually limitless opportunity. The university is a shared public good that benefits society by educating students, creating knowledge through research discoveries, fueling the economy and improving the quality of life.

UCLA’s central IT infrastructure is a fee-for-service model; researchers, departments, and other users rent a specific amount of storage from the university for a specific period of time.

Their uses for this storage range from supporting cutting-edge research to data archiving and beyond, and because of this variety, IT administrators need to ensure that their entire infrastructure is sufficiently flexible to provide appropriate service to all users in all cases.

For example, their biggest users are in the medical field; they must ensure that the system complies with regulations and security needs in addition to being fast, available and reliable.

As capacity needs grew and user requirements and computing capabilities evolved, the university realized it needed a storage system that could meet some key requirements:

1. It had to provide reliable storage for the entire IT infrastructure.

2. It had to be dense enough to deliver value in limited floor space.

3. Storage also needed to be flexible enough to grow and evolve with its users. As new systems and features come online, storage must be able to scale appropriately and work with other hardware and software systems they may need to acquire.

Despite these needs, the university’s fee-based computing model required that the storage system be purchased at a low enough price that the university could essentially resell it at a price that would make it more attractive to its users than a larger cloud. big. storage options such as Amazon or Google.

Moreover, in addition to being competitive, the university hoped to at least cover its expenses, and even generate income to reinvest in additional services. IT workers found it very difficult to find a solution that could do everything they needed at a low enough price.

The solution

After a two-year research and testing process, UCLA selected and purchased a series of Nexsan E-Series Model E60 storage systems. The IT department decided to create five “storage pods,” each with an E60 SAN system and two E60X systems connected to the central E60.

Within the pod, UCLA decided to deploy active-active controllers, each with a pair of dual 10Gb ports. Accordingly, each pod includes eight 10Gb ports and 18 LUNs that directly feed switches and interconnects to 40 GB from the university. Given that all disks in the system are 4TB in capacity and the entire infrastructure contains almost 1,000 spindles, the system can currently scale up to several petabytes of storage, enough to meet the current needs of its users.

The deployment was done in phases; a pod with 250TB of storage went live within six weeks of purchase, and the rest arrived within 12-18 months.

Results and Benefits

In every way, Nexsan storage systems exceeded UCLA’s expectations.

  • From initial purchase order to putting a system into production, the procurement and deployment process was seamless and took just eight months, minimizing time to value and maximizing return on investment for UCLA.
  • Throughput, bandwidth, and performance were excellent. Storage pods spread the data load across the entire system using thin provisioning, eliminating bottlenecks and taking full advantage of switches and interconnect hardware.
  • It has proven to be ultra-reliable. Since full deployment over a year ago, there has only been one spindle failure – and this incident has caused zero downtime.
  • The entire infrastructure—with the capacity to condense 240TB into 4U—fits into limited space and was deployed with limited OPEX, exceeding the ambitious density requirements that UCLA hoped to achieve.
  • The simplicity of the system design emerged as a significant added value. It’s easy to maintain while keeping the system online when needed, and it’s easy to train junior people to work on it.
  • Although simple, UCLA designed the infrastructure to expand easily. Nexsan storage supports this perfectly, as more capacity can be achieved by simply adding more or larger drives. Then, once deployed, storage blocks can be provisioned to users in 10 minutes.
  • User feedback—both inside and outside the UCLA system—has been universally outstanding. In particular, UCLA has received many comments indicating how much users appreciate its storage because it is simple enough to use on their own without any IT expertise or outside assistance.
  • Acquisition and operating costs of Nexsan systems were lower than other similar solution options and aligned well with IT department business models, enabling executives and administrators to deliver superior service and other added value to users.

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