At the end of last year, my Veeam repository storage was filling up and the storage was also a very old FC storage that I wanted to get rid of. My CTO tasked me to find a solution that would be cost effective and would scale as our backup storage needs were growing at a considerable rate. The storage would be placed in our secondary site where our Veeam copy jobs would reside.
For you to get an over view picture of our setup, here is a simplified diagram where our Kopavogur site is our primary site, and Akureyri site is our secondary site. We have more proxies, VMware hosts and some guest interaction proxies at customer locations that we back up to our system, but that’s out of scope of this blog so those components are not shown.
In our primary site I do the daily backups to an on-site repository for quick recovery of VM’s and data, but all copy jobs from the site goes to our secondary site in Akureyri.
When looking for solutions for the Akureyri site, I evaluated the benefits of using a deduplication appliance since copy jobs can greatly benefit of such storage as the same VM images are saved over and over again and in our backup policies that meant 10-15 times depending on the level of protection the customer wants. My conclusion that a deduplication appliance would be a great fit for the job, but my previous experience with deduplication appliance where performance would not scale well and fork-lift upgrades were need to add more performance of the solution did create a show stopper in that route.
Then I got news of Cohesity, as my friends Frank Brix Pedersen and Paul Schatteles left PernixData (RIP Pernix… L) and started working for a startup company Cohesity. I got an introduction of their product at a local VMUG event where I’m a leader, and also a live demonstration of the product at VMworld Barcelona in 2016. There I met other Cohesity staff as well so I got a good insight on what their plans were and how they were creating the solution out of hyper converged nodes where compute performance would scale linearly with the storage capacity. This got my attention as this method would get my wishes for a deduplication appliance back on track.
My next step was to get a POC underway to evaluate the solution and we agreed on pre-defined goals for the 30 day POC to be successful. I listed up 9 different points that would qualify as a successful initial setup, and another 7 points in regard of functionally and performance requirements.
Some of the initial points were (points were more detailed in the actual POC document)
- Successful base installation of the product in Akureyri Site
- Alerts and call home functionality
- Initial setup of View box and views to publish CIFS share to the Veeam repository server
- NFS share creation and connection to my ESXi hosts in Akureyri site and creation of NFS storage for archiving
Functionally and performance requirements points (again points were more detailed in the POC document)
- Maintain data availability throughout a simulated hardware failure (node reboot/, drive failure etc…)
- Successfully function as a Veeam repository target for the POC timeframe.
- Successfully be able to perform Instant recovery with Veeam at a reasonable performance.
- Stable user experience throughout the POC timeframe
- Achieve a dedup ratio of 1:5 at the end of POC timeframe
- Successful support case generation and acceptable response time from Cohesity support.
I got the box in mid of December 2016 and with help from Frank Brix I installed and setup the solution remotely in the Akureyri site. After some initial testing I connected Veeam to the box and everything was up and running the same day. As the holiday season was started I was unable to start the POC work right away, but at the end of 30 days in early January every point in the POC document was fulfilled except the 1:5 dedup rate. That was due to the fact that only 3 weekly copy job runs had run in the timeframe, but as my dedup rate was almost 1:3 I concluded that the theory worked. I would get a 1:5 dedup rate after 2-3 weeks.
We decided that the POC were a success and went ahead with the purchase. After few weeks, as projected I got my 1:5 dedup ratio that was defined in the POC document so my CTO got his Cost per GB projection confirmed and we went on with our daily business.
Now few months later, I’m really happy with the product. I have created a few minor issue based cases with Cohesity support, and always got great response time and help on my issues. Dedup ratio is on the rise, and in the 4 node, 2U box I have more than 400TB’s of logical data stored at this time, and I except to have this number doubled in the next 4-6 months without having to purchase another node. – Nodes can be added later when needed and the great thing about expansions is that I have a linear expansion path on both storage, performance and cost.
Last week I did a case study document with Paul that can be downloaded here from the Cohesity website where we wrote about the project.
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