Case Study

Energy Corporation Pilots Object-based Storage for Archiving Unstructured Seismic Data

WWT demonstrates how EMC’s Elastic Cloud Storage Appliance, powered by ViPR, could bring 100 petabytes of data online.

Highlights:

  • Advanced Technology Center (ATC) was used to accelerate project timeline for a complex, high-touch proof of concept (POC)
  • WWT and EMC innovated to solve a new storage-related use case generated by the customer’s internal seismic data group
  • EMC solution met requirements for resiliency and high availability of unstructured seismic data, as well as future integration within advanced architectural applications, including big data
  • Pilot was completed in less than four weeks

What would have taken us six months to set up took less than a month with WWT. This was the best lab testing setup I’ve ever seen in my 30-plus-year career.”

— Customer’s Lead Architect

Context

In a recent ATC POC, WWT and EMC partnered to deploy EMC’s Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Appliance, powered by ViPR, for a multinational energy corporation. The customer wanted to evaluate and test an object-based storage solution against competing options. The solution needed to bring 100 petabytes of seismic data stored on tape online while meeting resiliency and availability requirements. The POC’s scope involved the restoration and reuse of many years of seismic data that had been generated and archived to cold storage. The customer wanted to avoid the risks associated with traditional tape, such as formatting consistency and corruptions. They also wanted to gain the benefits of having data stored in an online repository, such as self-checking, real-time repairing and anytime access. Because of the customer’s storage environments, the POC had to simulate performance within geographically disparate data centers. Working against a compressed timeframe, the customer needed to finish evaluating and testing a solution in two to three weeks.

Solution Overview

WWT and EMC proposed the EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Appliance, powered by ViPR, as a complete hyperscale infrastructure that essentially functioned as a local private storage cloud. Benefits to the customer included the fact that ECS offers universal access to object and HDFS, as well as block protocols, on a single platform. The ECS Appliance uses ViPR, which is EMC’s software-defined platform that abstracts, pools and automates a data center’s underlying physical storage infrastructure. The ECS Appliance is built using commodity components, with commodity-based nodes managing a set of commodity disks, to ensure cost-effective storage. A software component called the ViPR data fabric is installed on each node, which provides local element manager services and acts as a distributed cluster manager.

A notable aspect of the engagement was WWT’s awareness of EMC’s ability to show an integrated NFS object service. With this knowledge, WWT partnered with EMC to bring the customer onsite to an EMC lab to demonstrate a native CIFS/NFS interface. WWT had expertise with the interface because it was one of the first EMC partners to use native CIFS/NFS and object-based storage on the same platform, in order to talk back to the object-based hardware engine (ECS Appliance). Critical to the customer was the ability of ECS to deliver an integrated storage cloud that could support performing analysis against data in place, without having to move the data. The ability to run analysis against archived data, as well as the ECS appliance’s use of Scale IO to perform block storage, along with object, NFS and CIFS, at a compelling price point strongly appealed to the customer. Finally, the customer also considered ECS’ ability to support Hadoop file systems, a factor that would prove critical in potentially supporting integration with a big data stack.

Implementation

WWT’s strong understanding of the customer’s business challenges helped to create a high-performance team that would execute the pilot in weeks instead of months. WWT’s national technical architect specializing in object-based storage, Rich Harper, spent a week onsite with the customer as an object-based storage subject matter expert supporting POC requirements. Harper helped develop documentation and participated in a 16-hour conference call focused on completing the buildout of the lab’s management operations according to specific feature requirements. Replicating the customer’s environment for the pilot required a level of effort equal to setting up six data centers, with three sets of dual sites, to test geographically disparate data center capabilities. WWT’s lab services team was brought in to assist with developing the networking and virtualization elements necessary to ensure required latency (15ms) between data center sites.

Outcome and Benefits

WWT’s POC was successfully completed in just over three weeks. WWT and EMC demonstrated a complete hyperscale infrastructure solution providing data storage for 3rd Platform applications, as well as universal access to object and HDFS, and block protocols, on a single platform. With only two weeks of ATC lead time, WWT successfully built the test environment and simulated a geographically disparate data center scenario using customer data and meeting the requirements for high availability and resiliency. WWT demonstrated the solution’s potential for employing a Hadoop file system, which paves the way for use with a big data stack.

Conclusion

The market for object-based storage is quickly moving from the bleeding edge and becoming more accepted among Fortune 1000 organizations. Organizations realize the challenges of keeping up with the growing pace of data using traditional storage methods. Because of this, an investigation into new options such as object-based storage is underway. In the case of this multinational energy corporation, a high level of satisfaction was achieved by the WWT POC.

The success of this ATC object-based storage pilot for a multinational energy corporation was the result of a strong partnership between EMC and WWT, a high-performance team effort during the POC, and the capabilities of the ATC’s diverse lab environments.