UAE-based MDC Business Management Services, a Mubadala company, deployed Pure Storage’s FlashArray//X which now serves as the backbone of the company’s data centre infrastructure. It has enabled Mubadala’s MDC BMS to make faster, better decisions which ultimately allows the company to grow its asset base and maintain its global leadership position.
MDC Business Management Services (MDC BMS) is a shared services company that provides support in IT, finance, procurement, facility management and HR for the larger Mubadala Group.
The company chose to standardise its block storage on Pure Storage – across production, non-production, disaster recovery and remote sites – to significantly reduce TCO, focus IT resources on business-oriented tasks, rather than storage management and improve performance of applications critical to business performance and growth.
A global legend emerges
Abu Dhabi’s success story has become a legend worldwide and a lynchpin of the present-day prosperity of the United Arab Emirates. The vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi until 2004, was a future for his people full of opportunity and innovation.
The Mubadala Investment Company has played a starring role in fulfilling that ambition. It is Abu Dhabi’s premier strategic investment company, accelerating the emirate’s economic growth through laser-focused deployment of capital in 15 global sectors in 30 countries, with assets totalling US$226 billion. Its broad portfolio permeates sectors from aerospace and healthcare, to real estate and ICT.
MDC BMS provides expertise in several fields – with a strong focus on ICT – to external clients and the Mubadala Group itself. The company’s Senior Vice President of Infrastructure and Operations, Nalluri Subba Rao, is an 11-year veteran of Mubadala.
He sees storage as the backbone of the company’s offerings.
“Storage plays a vital role in any services you provide,” said Rao. “Servers and analytics rely on storage; the performance of apps, the replication of data into your disaster-recovery centre, your security – all rely on storage.”
MDC BMS runs 16 apps on 1,500 virtual servers, all on the same storage architecture. Each is mission-critical and performance-intensive, so each requires reactive speed. Previously, the team faced several major challenges in delivering optimal performance to Mubadala and non-Mubadala clients.
“We had multiple disk-based storage solutions,” he explained. “We managed seven storage arrays from multiple vendors, which ran to around nine and a half racks, with a high TCO.
Management of this legacy architecture had become unwieldy for MDC BMS. Technical personnel had to schedule extended downtime periods for patching, fixing and upgrading. The high rack space was also becoming an issue and performance of the overall ICT infrastructure was sub-optimal.
MDC BMS deploys FlashArray//X to enhance performance, simplify maintenance and reduce rack space
To overcome these constraints on business efficiency and futureproof the infrastructure – not only for MDC BMS but for the entire Mubadala Group and its clients – the team sought a solution that could deliver easier day-to-day management, reduced rack space and market-leading IOPS.
MDC BMS selected Pure Storage FlashArray//X to cover production, non-production, disaster recovery and remote-sites operations. FlashArray//X is an all-flash, 100%-NVMe, shared, accelerated storage designed for mainstream enterprise deployments and optimised for performance and density.
It is a decision which has been lauded by Mansoor Almarzooqi, CIO, MDC BMS.
He said: “Mubadala Group’s brand is all about the transformation of society and the laser-focused investments that make that happen.
“Our investment in Pure Storage is rooted in our recognition that we all now live in a digital world. Timely, accurate information and the confidence in the safety and security of that information are vital components of a successful enterprise. Because of the dedication and innovation of Pure – and our own team – we can make faster, better decisions that ultimately allow us to grow our asset base.”
Rao added that with Pure Storage, MDC BMS had been able to reduce its rackspace to 6U, stating that the TCO has also been reduced.
He was also struck by the ease of deployment for Pure Storage FlashArray//X solution, stating: “With other storage vendors, it takes a minimum of a month to complete implementation and sometimes up to two or three months.
“We completed this project, including patch upgrades, the migration of close to 400 TB of data and around 280 TB of disaster-recovery replication, in a single week – something that I would never have thought would be possible.
“Another advantage of Pure is its solutions don’t require a lot of training. Pure Storage technical resources was on site for the first two days, for protocol reasons, but after that the hardware and software were so simple, our internal team managed the rest of the implementation.”
A further benefit of the Pure Storage solution that became apparent to MDC BMS was the ease with which it could be maintained. Through the Pure1 monitoring tool, the MDC BMS team can oversee the entire infrastructure from a single point, receiving rich views and alerts in real time. Upgrades were also simplified with FlashArray//X.
“We normally need to really plan upgrades and involve the vendor, and rely on them to complete it, which is a very tense time for us,” he recalled. “With Pure, not so.”
An all-flash storage architecture has also enabled MDC to achieve sub-millisecond latency for all its critical apps. The company previously relied on server memory to enhance app performance but FlashArray//X can now fulfil this need. In addition, with Pure Storage, the MDC BMS team can provision storage for new apps in just a few seconds, as opposed to the days it would take with the legacy storage infrastructure.
This is ultimately helping Mubadala employees that use these business-critical applications to take better, faster real time decisions.
“Another point worth noting is that, with our legacy storage, we were facing major performance issues in pre-production,” he added, “but now, non-production, pre-production and production environments are all run on Pure Storage, so all environments get the same benefits as production. This allows IT to get a very accurate feel for how well apps will work in production.”
Cost savings – a solution that pays for itself in four years
Through de-duplication and compression, FlashArray//X has also reduced MDC BMS’s cost per terabyte, even though the company migrated from a disk infrastructure.
“There is a misconception in the market that disk storage is cheaper than all-flash, but per terabyte, it is actually cheaper with flash because of the data reduction feature that Pure has built into their storage solutions,” Rao noted.
“One rack runs about AED 250,000 (approx. US$68,000) a year in colocation costs. But since we moved from seven racks to one seventh of a rack, we are looking at potential savings of up to AED 2 million (approx. US$544,000) per year.
“Also, power consumption for a disk-storage rack is anywhere between 12 and 16 kW, but with the Pure solution in place, this reduces to 1 kW, so we save more than 90% in power costs.
“This all translates to a massive overall saving in TCO and the solution will have paid for itself within four years. We are delighted with the outcome – any remote sites we deploy in the future will be run on Pure Storage solutions.”