Alberta Union of Provincial Employees
“SimpliVity didn’t just fix storage, it gave us a reduced footprint, an efficient way to snapshot and store images and gave us a growth path.”
– Michael Moskaluk, Director of IT & Services
AUPE is a trade union in Edmonton, Alberta, with 175 staff members in 10 locations. The union serves 85,000 to 90,000 members, negotiating and enforcing collective agreements. Members include employees in provincial government, corrections, healthcare, education, government boards, agencies, and social work.
The IT team at the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees went looking for a SAN, and eventually found SimpliVity’s hyperconverged infrastructure. The team’s search took more than 18 months, though, during which time Director of IT & Services Michael Moskaluk met with many vendors and suppliers and enlisted third-party help in auditing the AUPE’s requirements.
AUPE determined a SAN purchase wouldn’t have met all of the AUPE’s needs. Storage consolidation was only one requirement, while efficient tier-1 backups and disaster recovery were other big needs. That became especially clear when the AUPE’s main building was flooded during an icy Alberta winter. “It was 30 below, and we had to keep the building on life support and resurrect the data center,” Moskaluk said.
Spiceworks’ community network eventually provided Moskaluk with a recommendation for SimpliVity, and within a few months AUPE had made the purchase. “It wasn’t one specific feature, it was all those factors in one solution,” Moskaluk said. “It solved many problems for us.” A SAN alone wouldn’t have solved AUPE’s backup, replication, and remote office management challenges. Plus, the AUPE IT team was facing servers and computers that needed to be refreshed. It was also difficult to predict growth, Moskaluk said, and expanding storage involved looking for olderversion hard drives.
AUPE purchased two OmniCubes for its main data center, and one for its remote Calgary location.
Benefits Beyond Compare
AUPE has seen huge benefits since its 2015 SimpliVity implementation. “SimpliVity didn’t just fix storage, it gave us a reduced footprint, an efficient way to snapshot and store images and gave us a growth path,” Moskaluk said. He’s also seen increased application performance, especially for the union’s financial system. Happier users overall mean fewer help desk calls, and backups now take only 15 minutes instead of overnight. The union has also eliminated at least 40% of its hardware requirements in data center racks, and Moskaluk expects to cut even more hardware as he and his team continue to move Tier-1 applications to SimpliVity.
Inline deduplication was one particular SimpliVity feature that Moskaluk noted before purchase, and it’s paying off. AUPE is getting a 26:1 deduplication ratio with SimpliVity. The union also now sees RTOs within 15 minutes, as compared to the past system where the IT team had to use the previous night’s restore which took up to 24 hours to restore. The IT team has already restored one of its critical applications with SimpliVity very quickly, in stark contrast to how it recovered data previously. “We have nightmares of bare-metal restores from a few years ago,” Moskaluk said. “The stress levels of those types of recoveries are just too hard on our staff.”
The union’s small IT team of only six people has benefited from SimpliVity’s single-solution approach, and saved a lot of time on system maintenance. AUPE’s senior network administrator, Glenn Kaiser, has saved hours of time on management tasks. He does a “one-minute check” per day on the SimpliVity OmniCubes, and instead spends time on new projects.
Adding storage took “literally weeks,” before SimpliVity, Moskaluk says. Provisioning a server in the previous VM environment took at least a full work day, he said, where now it takes just minutes.
Moskaluk says that AUPE predicts growth to about 200 employees and 90,000 to 95,000 members. The IT team plans to get 80 or 90% of its applications onto SimpliVity, and are working to deliver more applications internally with web-based services. They are also adding another compute resource to the remote OmniCube to enable a one-hour recovery time there.
The AUPE’s transformation with SimpliVity will power a brighter future—without sleepless nights for its IT staff. The organization has moved to a data center model that offers real enterprise capabilities for the first time, with the agility of the cloud.