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Music agency halves space and energy costs with switch to Pure

Switzerland-based copyright and royalties agency SUISA has cut datacentre rackspace and energy costs by 50% following a move from EMC all-flash hardware to Pure Storage arrays.

The move also allowed it to overcome capacity limitations on the old XtremIO arrays while simplifying storage admin tasks such as provisioning new capacity and upgrading hardware, which now take place non-disruptively.

The organisation can now recover databases in seconds in its VMware and SQL Server environment when it used to take hours or days, while lifetime storage technology upgrades are built into the contract with Pure.

SUISA represents more than 40,000 musicians and gathers information on massive numbers of performances across numerous channels so that royalty payments can be made to composers, artistes, publishers and so on.

In 2023, SUISA handled 22 billion Spotify records, with numbers not much less than that from Youtube, Deezer etc. Meanwhile, information was collected and payouts made for performances that took place on TV and radio, at concerts and in clubs.

Until 2014, SUISA relied entirely on disk-based storage but moved to all-flash from EMC in that year. It opted for XtremIO all-flash hardware, which was a pioneering array product in the early flash storage era. However, the storage team at SUISA found it was complex to manage and came up against capacity limits within around three years.

“It was complicated to manage and to expand and we had problems finding people who could add storage,” said Hansruedi Jung, head of systems technology at SUISA. “It was very costly and took a lot of resources. If we wanted to implement new volumes, it was quite difficult and we had to shut down the system. You couldn’t do it and keep things running.”

In 2017, SUISA looked at Pure Storage all-flash arrays as a replacement for the EMC XtremIO hardware. SUISA deployed Pure Storage FlashArray//M and later //X (performance) and //C (capacity) all-NVMe flash variants and now has nearly 300TB of capacity in three arrays in 6U of rackspace. That amount of datacentre space is half that taken up by the previous EMC hardware, while energy costs have also come down by 50%.  

The organisation has taken advantage of Pure’s Evergreen//Forever purchasing model, in which the customer buys the hardware outright but then pays for lifetime upgrades. So, SUISA initially deployed capacity in FlashArray//M but upgraded in 2023 to //X70 arrays.

Pure Storage also offers as-a-service purchasing of its storage products, but that wasn’t available when SUISA was in the market. Nevertheless, lifetime upgrades allow it to get the latest technology as it comes out.

“We have our own datacentre and we have invested in systems which get upgraded with the latest technology,” said Jung. “If you invest in the right system, you can benefit from owning it yourself.”

Key benefits of the move to Pure are that it is easier to maintain than the previous infrastructure, said Jung, adding: “Storage people don’t have a lot to configure. New people can adapt to it easily and there’s no real downtime on the running platform during maintenance.”

Lukas Kauf, team lead for datacentre services at SUISA, said that cost savings figures were not available, but a big benefit has been rapid availability of restores of SQL databases that the organisation relies on.

“We can get a 60TB database back in seconds where it used to take hours or days,” said Kauf. “And that’s via self-service scripts.”

 Kauf added that Pure Storage provides deduplication which has seen SUISA’s SQL databases achieve up to 90:1 data reduction.

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