Being a reliable fruits and vegetables distributor means being able to satisfy customer requests in a timely fashion without sacrificing quality or price. Every hour counts, as fresh produce perishes quickly. This is why Univeg Trade Italia dispatches quality-control operators to visit the fields of its suppliers. They verify the quality and quantity of the produce, document their findings with a high volume of photo images and communicate this data to the sales department via smartphone or tablet. This process requires a robust messaging system to support a large flow of traffic: the company currently has 100 active mailboxes, 30 of which reach 100 GB in size per mailbox.
This communication system still relies on fax messaging for the exchange of documents, receipts and notices. Univeg Trade Italia manages that with RightFax, SQL-based software that allows the integration and automation of fax distribution with desktop applications. This reduces operational costs, but moves the additional burden of managing thousands of fax messages per day to the IT infrastructure.
Compounding the stress on its IT infrastructure, Univeg Trade Italia adopted VDI three years ago, which negatively impacted user experience. Workstations had become slower and less responsive, making employees skeptical about what was supposed to be a technological improvement.
A trusted partner causes a full-flash of inspiration
While these legacy systems could have lasted a couple of years longer, Univeg Trade Italia recognised their limitations. Their sub-optimal performance levels coupled with a growing need for employees to access data 24×7 from any device — including mobile platforms — necessitated a change in direction. This triggered an evaluation of flash storage technology that could deliver the long-term performance, reliability, flexibility and effortless management required by Univeg Trade Italia.
A helping hand came from NGS S.r.L. — Next Gen Solutions, a trusted partner and supplier that recommended Pure Storage. NGS prepared a proof of concept (PoC) and illustrated all the benefits Pure Storage offered over other vendors. “The support provided by NGS was crucial. It allowed us to fully understand the capabilities of Pure Storage and its various advantages over the competition. This made our choice and our life, much easier. I still thank them for this whenever I talk to them,” said Paolo Brunello, ICT Manager of Univeg Trade Italia.
Pure Storage offers several advantages over other solutions. The Pure1™ web-based tools make storage management and monitoring effortless. Arrays are highly scalable, allowing the company to start small and expand later by adding other modules with no downtime, performance loss or data migration. Amortisation can be prolonged as the Evergreen™ Storage model keeps the array up-to-date. These traits – together with expected performances of up to 300.000 32K IOPS and consistent <1ms latency – convinced
the management of Univeg Trade Italia that Pure Storage was the right partner for the company. The light turned green in no time.
Pure Storage made life a bowl of cherries
Deploying the Pure Storage FlashArray proved to be a major departure from the previous storage system by collapsing set up time from an entire week to less than one day. Univeg Trade Italia made the decision to move its entire VDI, Microsoft Exchange messaging system and RightFax fax manager to the Pure Storage array.
The impact of this system upgrade was immediate to Univeg Trade Italia’s workforce. In the boot phase of VDI the average logon time dropped to 28 seconds, from 51 seconds with the previous SAN. User experience improved dramatically and is now comparable to the one offered by standalone computers, allowing users to browse and access images and messages quickly and reliably. The improvement in performance also affects the deployment of new virtual machines and the installation of applications, allowing for a quick setup of test environments.
The Pure Storage FlashArray allows Univeg Trade Italia to better respond to critical storage situations. On such occasions, the legacy system forced the company to migrate virtual machines to datastores located on higher-capacity storage pools. Datastores were bound to predefined storage pools, based on the type of RAID required. The new Pure Storage array is much more agile and flexible; datastores are located on different logical volumes, but they refer to a single SSD pool with proprietary RAID. Pools are no longer separated for high-capacity and high-performance disks; top performances are now guaranteed across the entire available space.
From an IT perspective, the Pure Storage array has proven to be highly flexible, offering an easy-to-use management system that has revolutionised IT operations. “Managing our previous storage solution required advanced skills that we did not have in-house,” Brunello noted. “We used to rely on an external system integrator. Now everything is simpler and faster, so we can manage the system autonomously. In the same time it took to call our system integrator and open a ticket, I can now manage the issue by myself. This saves us a lot of time and money.”
The technical support offered by Pure Storage has proven to be another major benefit to Univeg’s ICT Manager. “NGS emphasised how Pure Storage provides unmatched customer service and they were right,” Brunello reported. “Their technical support truly goes beyond expectations. On a couple of occasions we have had internal problems – a system anomaly during maintenance and an issue with an application.
Neither of those problems were caused by the Pure Storage system, but we received technical support anyway. They called us minutes after the issues were identified and in one case they even started a technical escalation. In 20 years working in the IT field, I had never experienced such responsive and proactive technical support.”
A new work experience
Since adopting a Pure Storage FlashArray//M20 six months ago, Univeg Trade Italia is realising measurable results that have exceeded expectations. Data processing rates are 3-to-4 times faster and data deduplication ratios have reached a 3.71:1. This deduplication rate has slashed the capacity requirements of the internal mail system by almost 70%.
In addition, the cost-effectiveness of the Pure Storage array has become evident. Amortisation increased to five years, as the array’s exceptional performances convinced Univeg Trade Italia that the company’s needs will be satisfied for a longer time than with the previous solution. The Evergreen programme plays an important role in guaranteeing long-lasting performances, making it possible for Univeg Trade Italia to safely increase the amortisation. Consistent savings are generated also in other areas: energy consumption and cooling costs have been cut in half, while external IT management support has been entirely eliminated.
“However, the most important benefits are not quantifiable,” Brunello concluded. “I am talking about the improved user experience, the ease of management and the impeccable technical support. They have entirely reshaped our working experience.”