Extending Storage Usefulness

Managing “Frankenstein” Storage with Avere Systems FXT Servers

“In 2008 there was no storage at Locaweb. I was hired to build a storage solution. We named it ‘The Frankenstein’ project. We built ‘Frankenstein’ from the ground up to address our storage requirements at that time. But with continued growth over the last five years, we found ourselves facing a monster—massive NAS sprawl with too many independent ZFS appliances. It was time for the next evolution of storage and we named this project ‘The Hulk’,” states Marcelo Leal, storage architect at Locaweb since 2008. Leal, who began as a team of one, brought with him over a decade of experience as he began to investigate the best options for a storage strategy.

Too many independent ZFS appliances were making management of the storage time consuming and difficult. “It’s complex to handle a multitude of requirements on a single appliance. I needed to sustain Locaweb’s growth which was growing 40% year over year without buying more storage server hardware!”

Locaweb built the solution with 3 distinct layers. The first layer, the presentation layer, is composed of Avere FXT Edge filers, which are responsible for the performance of the environment and scale out. The second layer is the management layer, consisting of switches that create farms of storage—each of which can have 100s of core filers. The third layer, data protection, was comprised of the 1000 core filer appliances already in place. Each of the four Avere FXT 4200 cluster nodes hosts 30,000 sites (~30 clients). 

The Locaweb workload is primarily random reads. Avere clusters are connected with 10GbE and accelerate 1000 OpenIndiana/Illumos storage devices, each with a capacity of 16TB utilizing SATA. Locaweb capitalizes on Avere’s flexible policies, using write-back mode 90% of the time and write-through 10%. 

“We have doubled our storage utilization with Avere Edge filers. With better utilization we can compensate the cost of adding other devices and manage our additional growth of 100s of boxes per year which store PBs of data. The Avere Edge-core architecture is a pulley. The physics are simple—lifting heavy weight with minimal work,” Leal continues. 

“This time our team worked to build a new hero that will scale with our business—it is not the same story as the Frankenstein project. This time we have the Hulk to save the world, at least Locaweb’s storage world. During our pilot we managed 110,000 webservers and a combination of NFS and physical machines hosting thousands of clients. Our current storage solution using Avere FXT filers is mean, green and strong.”

In the web hosting services market having a value-driven benefit sets you above the competition. With increased performance from the Avere FXT filers, Locaweb provides a clear benefit over its competition.

“Of course providing the customer faster access to their data is a positive outcome of increased performance but the best way to describe the performance benefit we’ve seen with Avere is we are now seeing sub-millisecond latency.”

“Another important purchasing metric for us is support. It was important for us to be confident that we have quick access to technical support if and when issues arise. Avere provides one of the best service organizations I have experienced. Their team of support professionals are not only knowledgeable but exceptionally dedicated to providing answers and assistance 24/7.”

“We plan to use Avere for many different workloads as our business expands. Avere is an integral part of our future business as we continue to grow into a fully integrated Internet services company with offerings like CLOUD and SaaS.”

“We have 100% better utilization of our storage combined with the scalability of performance and utilization of data center space. We can support our 40% year over year growth without adding more hardware. Avere Edge filers have been a great solution for us. Spending less money on storage frees up budget for strategic purchases. Avere positively impacts our bottom line,” concludes Leal.

Customer Challenges

  • Reduce NAS sprawl. Too many independent storage appliances
    • 1000 filers
    • 25000 drives (SATA and SSD)
  • Reduce migrations due to space constraints
  • Lower energy requirements
  • Support business growth through better utilization of data center resources

Avere Benefits

  • Management complexity simplified with global namespace
  • Increased storage utilization by 100% while increasing performance
  • CAPEX savings of 2.5 Million over 36 months
  • 40% Year over Year growth without adding more core storage hardware

About Locaweb

Founded in 1998, Locaweb is South America’s largest web hosting service provider with two data centers in Brazil and one in Miami, FL. Locaweb hosts 500,000+ web sites and experiences 40% year over year growth of its storage.