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The verdict is Pure as Scottish prosecutor upgrades high-end storage

Scotlands prosecution service saw disk drives in the dock weekly with EMC legacy storage. Now its got Pure all-flash and contains turned over an (Evergreen) new leaf

Antony Adshead


Published: 28 Jul 2022 9: 45

Scotlands Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has switched from ageing EMC storage hardware to Pure Storage flash-based arrays in a move that boosted I/O performance, overcame a capacity bottleneck and massively simplified management.

COPFS has handled a lot more than 90,000 cases since 2016 and holds large sums of data in formats that range between everyday standard Word, PDF and Excel documents, where versioning for legal reasons could see 30 cases of exactly the same file created.

Also, because the pandemic, digital media has been centralised whereas formerly it had been held on CDs, USBs, etc, in order that CCTV and cellular phone data is currently accessible from anywhere.

COPFSs core work also centres on case management applications that lean heavily on Oracle database environments.

The organisation runs two datacentres in Glasgow and Edinburgh with a largely Windows environment or more to 400 VMware virtual servers.

COPFS have been running two EMC VMAX the storage giants former flagship arrays at each datacentre and each with 72TB of convenience of the majority of its storage, with a much less of capacity on Dell EMC Xtremio all-flash arrays for virtual desktops.

Aside from anything else, these were very big, said Adam Biggs, head of IT services at COPFS.

Each array occupied two full cabinets, so were two metres high and a comparable across, he said. Plus they didnt have dedupe or compression. To include more capacity could have needed a whole extra cabinet.

Biggs added: It had been spinning disk also it was old, so we were replacing a drive weekly. Also, any focus on it was a dark art and we’d to obtain contractors directly into do simple things such as extend a volume.

COPFS eventually replaced the EMC hardware with two Pure Storage FlashArray//X50 arrays, each with 120TB of raw capacity that ran to 580TB with data reduction applied.

Pures FlashArray//X range is its NVMe flash-equipped storage targeted at high-performance use cases, and which scales potentially to petabytes.

The organisation chosen Pures Evergreen programme, where the customer buys the hardware but can replace components on an agreed upgrade cycle. Pure supplies a selection of procurement options that extend to as-a-service purchasing, however in this case, COPFS decided it could manage the arrays in-house but get yourself a controller hardware upgrade after four years. COPFS also uses Pures SafeMode immutable snapshot provision to safeguard against ransomware.

Did COPFS consider any options towards as-a-service provision? Its an incident of capex vs opex and for all of us as public sector, it suits us to capitalise the investment and operationalise the support and maintenance, said Biggs.

So, do you know the key benefits?

Its storage, so if it doesnt break, nobody cares, but its good to really have the confidence that it’ll do what the organisation expects, said Biggs. Also, having the ability to manage it simply is good. And support. Weve had a couple of disks die that is normal but its been fantastic and upgrades have happened without disruption.

With regards to measurables, the database team has reported I/O improvements around 15%, he added.

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