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Tintri storage solves healthcare firm's primary and DR needs

Cross Country Healthcare standardized its production and data protection storage on Tintri and now it has 400 VMs working through the flash platform. Next up, a cloud setup.

Before settling on Tintri storage to handle more than 40 million files, Cross Country Healthcare used more than...

a half dozen systems for primary and secondary data. None of them fit quite right.

Cross Country Healthcare, a healthcare staffing company based in Boca Raton, Fla., had arrays spread across its branch and regional offices before consolidating production and data protection to reduce its IT footprint.

Cross Country used three NetApp filers to handle about 42 million files, one EMC VNX and one EMC XtremIO all-flash array for other primary data, along with a couple of EMC Data Domains and a Dell Compellent array for backup.

Each of the storage systems had its own problems, said Jason Bourque, vice president of infrastructure at Cross Country Healthcare. He said the NetApp arrays didn't scale well enough to keep up with heavily virtualized workloads, Cross Country lacked the in-house experience to manage the VNX, and the Dell EMC XtremIO was too expensive.

"We needed to start over [because] I was dealing with disparate technologies across different platforms," Bourque said. "We were trying to get away from the old point-to-point architecture. So we started to think about what our storage backbone should be."

Tintri storage to the rescue

Tintri developed its storage arrays specifically for VMware virtualized workloads, making it a good fit for the 100% virtualized healthcare staffing firm. Bourque said Cross Country bought its first Tintri storage system in 2015 and moved all production workloads over to the new Tintri T850 array, consolidating five platforms into one.

Cross Country now has more than 400 virtual machines running on Tintri flash storage to handle production workloads. The Tintri arrays provide storage for Microsoft SQL databases and front-office applications, 80 branch offices and more than 10 regional locations. Tintri's VM Scale-out software pools storage across its VMstore arrays and Tintri Analytics helps with capacity planning.

We were trying to get away from the old point-to-point architecture. So we started to think about what our storage backbone should be.
Jason Bourquevice president of infrastructure, Cross Country Healthcare

Two years after standardizing production on Tintri storage, the healthcare staffing provider implemented a new data protection and disaster recovery project. Initially, Cross Country moved off of the Data Domain and Compellent systems to ExaGrid disk backup. The firm used Veeam Software for agent-based backups to an ExaGrid library, and then replicated to another ExaGrid system at a secondary disaster recovery site. The primary site was in Miami with the secondary site in Atlanta.

But backing up more than 50 systems with large data sets caused a long lag time in sending all the large blocks of data to the recovery site.

"It took two weeks to get data to the recovery site," Bourque said. "We were putting ourselves at risk. In order to back up, we used Veeam that sent backups to the ExaGrid storage and then it was replicated to another ExaGrid. We had so much data that [we did] snapshots each day and sent them to the backup site. It would take two weeks to move the large blocks of data."

Bourque said Cross Country bought a new Tintri VMstore array for its primary data center and moved one of the older systems to the Atlanta DR site in March 2017. Now it replicates between the Tintri storage arrays, reducing its recovery point objective from two weeks to less than a day.

"We snapshot once a day," he said, "so our recovery time is within 24 hours. Tintri knows the block-level changes so it only sends the changed data. We continue to use Veeam and ExaGrid to archive data."

Cross Country Healthcare now is working on turning its virtualized infrastructure into a private cloud setup. Tintri has repositioned itself as a cloud service platform with its Tintri Enterprise Cloud EC6000 Series.

"We have a cloud-first approach," Bourque said. "I don't want to deal with anything that is two versions behind. We want to put ourselves completely in the cloud."

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