RIM Architects Consolidates Data and Cuts Storage Costs with FAST™
RIM Architects (RIM) is a global design firm specializing in distinctive and culturally relevant buildings and structures. They have worked numerous federal and DOD department projects like the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) on Maui, and the new five story office building in San Francisco in the South of Market (SOMA) neighbourhood. Projects like these require an intense amount of research and knowledge, so every team member at RIM works hard to craft unique and interesting designs for every client.
RIM is known for office buildings, academies, distilleries, resorts, and more. Their teams provide services in architecture, interior design, planning strategy, sustainable design, branding and graphic design. RIM is committed to making every project a success, no matter how simple or complicated the goals. RIM has offices in Anchorage, AK; San Francisco and Tustin, CA; Hagatna, GU; and Honolulu, HI; and an office in Makati City, PhP.
The Challenge: Overcoming Distributed Data across Branch Offices
RIM works primarily with Revit and other architecture design software. Their teams work and collaborate on major design projects across the world, which means they need an enterprise-grade data storage and management system to simplify data storage within each office. Sharing data with remote offices is crucial in their design process and ensures that all projects maintain the same level of quality throughout. These designs take months of editing and research to perfect, and with the excess file replication and duplication it stretches the process out even longer. If one team in the chain is unable to access files, the entire company suffers, progress is lost, and projects are delayed.
So, to facilitate inter-office collaboration for these projects, RIM used a mesh data management model which allowed users to access and edit data stored locally. This was achieved by using two local file servers at every location, each of which used DFS+R to replicate files between locations. While this did improve file access speeds, it created a constant, massive headache for the IT team trying to maintain file version consistency. As the users grew, so did the data. As the data grew, so did the costs. With multiple global sites to maintain and 75 users, backups, retrieval, and security compliance was an incredible challenge.
Unfortunately, with multiple offices and over 30TB of data to manage and consolidate, RIM’s IT team had their work cut out for them. Globalscape WAFS and PeerLock were used to try and keep files consistent, but since data was individually replicated at each branch office they were dealing with a massive number of duplicate files.
Almost half of the 30TB stored on their servers was excess data. Unless RIM was able to eliminate DFS+R replication between offices, cut down on file duplication, and reduce the on-site physical infrastructure, they would continue to face mounting costs and wasted time.
Focusing on Consolidation
For RIM senior management, cutting IT costs and investing in a powerful, long-term solution was incredibly important. They knew that excess spending on IT hardware and software could quickly bankrupt a company, no matter how big or small. They wanted to focus on growing the company without creating an international storage infrastructure that was more headache than solution. In order to accomplish this, they began looking into consolidation and centralization solutions.
Through consolidation they could cut costs, reduce file duplication, and eliminate large amounts of on-premise hardware while maintaining the existing data set for all users. This would foster workshare collaboration and eliminate the need for constant backups and DFS+R replication. The current system with DFS+R, Globalscape WAFS, and PeerLock allowed users fast access to locally stored data, but the cost of replicating that data to each site wasn’t worth it. By consolidating their data into a centralized data footprint, they could provide that same local data experience at a fraction of the cost.
Simplifying Data Management through Caching
For RIM, the best solution was on-site data caching. Talon FAST™ software uses Intelligent File Caching to store active data locally. This local caching ensures that only currently active projects are maintained on local file servers, which gives the feeling of working on local data without storing unnecessary archive data on the same server. This simple feature would allow RIM to eliminate at least 15TB of excess data and reduce redundant software costs. This eliminates the need for constant replication and daily data backups, thereby massively reducing maintenance costs across the board.
Since FAST™ integrates smoothly into existing data storage environments, RIM could utilize this local caching on one of the current two physical servers, thereby eliminating the need for two at each location. After a simple installation, users could begin to work on data sets stored locally—giving them the same experience as DFS+R replication to every site—without needing to rely on DFS+R replication from other branch offices. Instead, they only needed access to the central data set, from which they could retrieve all up-to-date related project files.
This shift in data access would completely change how RIM accessed and shared data amongst their offices. Instead of relying on daily replication, Globalscape WAFS, and PeerLock to maintain the current project files, they could work from the locally cached data. If any changes or updates have been made to that data by other users, the FAST™ software will only download the changes—not the entire file. For a company like RIM that utilizes Revit daily, this was a huge upgrade.
The shift in data management was a tipping point for the IT team and the users. Local Revit files were no longer constantly filling up the WAN due to transfers and replication, but instead Talon FAST™’s delta differencing was reducing that bandwidth usage to speed up inter-office communication across the world. Users could access file versions instantly, with all changes made, without dealing with excess file versions being replicated between global sites. Now that users could access and share project data without relying on replication, the IT team could focus on expanding and improving the global network.
The Return on Investment for RIM was huge. They cut down overall WAN usage and costs while reducing their global data footprint. This allowed them to reduce hardware maintenance costs and improve upon existing infrastructure without heavy investment. They used HCI to simplify infrastructure and upgrade server instances while still consolidating hardware. IT maintenance and personnel costs could be reduced without impacting performance or speed, and all users would still receive the same amount of support as needed. With their daily IT costs reduced, RIM could finally focus on improving their global users’ and customers’ experience.
- Talon FAST™ Intelligent File Caching reduced global data replication and provided a local, on-demand file experience for users
- FAST™ centralized and consolidated all global data which massively reduced upkeep and maintenance costs for RIM’s IT team
- Reduced costs allowed RIM to expand their infrastructure and invest in a future-proof storage platform
- Users could now communicate and share files between offices without relying on overnight data replication or slow WAN file sharing
Their CTO, Ubon Boutomsi, had this to say about the Talon team: “The transition process was tough. We were moving from a daily replication to a single consolidated footprint, so there were some growing pains. The Talon engineers were fantastic and very responsive for implementation and post-implementation support. We could call them at late hours, and they would still be there to help. Now that the system is in place we’re still adjusting, but we know the Talon team will be there to help us whenever we need it.”
Vision for the Future
“We’re looking to expand our IT department and cut down global IT costs. The Talon software massively cut down on IT spending, so now senior management wants to start engaging the business in new ways using that old IT budget. We’re excited to see how we can continue growing in the coming years.”
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