Argonon Ltd is a production group, creating hundreds of hours of entertainment every year and featured in the Sunday Times HSBC Fast Track 200 in 2016.
Composed of 11 companies in the UK, USA and Canada, they are passionate about creating, producing and distributing content for TV, film, digital and social media.
As the company continues to develop and expand they have chosen Trustco plc to support their ongoing and future IT strategy. This relationship started in 2010 with the procurement of IT hardware and during these years it has earned its place as a trusted technology advisor to the group. The partnership continues to flourish with Trustco consulting upon and supporting major IT infrastructure projects into 2017 and beyond.
In late 2015 Argonon needed to add to its growing IT architecture which currently supports 23 editing suites. Rather than continue to 'bolt on' additional storage, it was agreed that with the significant upturn in data growth a fresh solution would need to be sourced.
Traditionally content was filmed in HD but as production switches to a minimum of 4k, and increasingly 8k and beyond, subsequent files sizes are increasing at rapid rates. To mitigate this Argonon needed a future proof, scalable solution to help support its multiple large pools of data, often numbering hundreds of terabytes per pool.
Trustco monitor the industry for new products from both established and new vendors to match their customers with the most appropriate solution. Michelle Cope, Trustco, worked closely with Karl Dawkins, group IT manager, Argonon, to help clearly define his requirement from the start.
Argonon required a flexible solution with built in DR capabilities: "We simply cannot lose data," was Dawkins's mantra. "It has to be cost effective, highly secure and deliver high performance."
Once the project was clearly outlined, Trustco suggested multiple vendor options and undertook an appraisal process with Argonon. After the individual technologies were discussed it was agreed that QSAN Technology, Inc. was a solution to investigate further.
Trustco introduced QSAN to Argonon and arranged a proof of concept. The other vendors appraised offered limited capacity but the QSAN solution is scalable allowing for quick expansion as and when needed. Trustco sanity checked the design and ensured support arrangements were in place with UK-based engineers.
The QSAN TrioNAS LX U300 series offered Argonon a resilient solution, with active-active mode dual controllers (unheard of in many other NAS offerings), redundant fan modules and power supplies, dedicated hot spares, auto volume rebuilding, rapid RAID rebuilding, network port failover/failback as well as file and block level snapshot, remote replication, and clone.
The important thing for Argonon was the ability to grow, so the ZFS file system adopted by the TrioNAS LX, means that Argonon are able to add disk groups to their data pool. Thanks to the QSAN 'Instant Ready' technology, there is no build time on the parity, so this process is fast, and also safe and simple.
The flexibility to support VMware, Hyper-V, Citrix, Windows, Linux, or macOS particularly appealed to Argonon as different parts of the group run different systems.
Pricing support over a number of years was key to the sign off of this project. Dawkins stated: "The ongoing bid commitment from Trustco and QSAN gave Argonon the ability to grow the systems progressively rather being forced to procure all our future storage in one go. Best of all there is no software or licensing fees, it's all included, which makes budgeting easier."
With the solution agreed, Trustco used its 'Gold partner' status with QSAN to negotiate a competitive price for Argonon.
Expansion and ongoing support
Argonon originally selected a 1GB solution however soon noticed that the network became a bottleneck so decided to upgrade the NAS systems to 10GbE SFP+. This was implemented as a straight forward swap out, causing no downtime for the users, and resulting in a performance gain across the network.
Dawkins also pointed out that while QSAN's UK-based support is excellent, as they are an international company his internal team can access QSAN's developers 24/7/365 if there is ever an issue: "As with all new technologies I had a couple of teething problems, but QSAN's team were always fast to respond, and any issues are always escalated and solved quickly. The support team at QSAN have been incredibly easy to access and have a high level of knowledge even at the first line level."
When asked how Trustco and QSAN performed against his expectations, Dawkins replied: "Trustco's pre-sales and account management is second to none. Their advice is invaluable and I trust them to do the due diligence. The support we've had throughout this project has been superb. I love the QSAN solution. It is a scalable, efficient and resilient NAS solution which has increased performance at a lower cost when compared to similar technologies."
"The ongoing bid commitment from Trustco and QSAN gave Argonon the ability to grow the systems progressively rather being forced to procure all our future storage in one go. Best of all there is no software or licensing fees, it's all included, which makes budgeting easier," concluded Dawkins.
QSAN Technology, leading storage technology designer and manufacturer, was founded in July 2004. Building on our vast experience in the industry, QSAN strives to build enterprise class storage systems that pride ourselves with outstanding performance, secure data protection and comprehensive data management. QSAN endeavors to provide the industry with high quality data storage systems that are simple, secure, scalable and reliable. For more information, please visit www.QSAN.com