Learn why Argonon partnered with Trustco and QSAN to deliver an integrated storage solution, scalable to petabytes of data and able to guarantee high availability at a lower cost.

Argonon is an award-winning production group, creating hundreds of hours of world-class 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 distinctive and innovative content for TV, film, digital and social media.

As the company continues to develop and expand they have chosen Trustco to support their ongoing and future IT strategy. This relationship started in 2010 with the procurement of IT hardware and during these years Trustco has earnt 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. 

The requirement

In late 2015 Argonon Post Production needed to add to its ever 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 constantly monitor the industry for new innovative 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 Disaster Recovery (DR) capabilities. “We simply cannot lose data” was Karl’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, a recent new entrant to UK, was an attractive solution to investigate further.

QSAN

QSAN Technology is a Taiwanese organisation with UK commercial and technical teams based out of Dunsable, Bedfordshire. Its solutions provide outstanding performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness to businesses in more than 30 countries around the world.

Trustco introduced QSAN to Argonon and arranged a proof of concept. Argonon were impressed. The other vendors appraised offered limited capacity but the QSAN solution is highly 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 solution

The QSAN NAS offered Argonon a highly 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 most important thing for Argonon was the ability to grow, so the ZFS filesystem adopted by the QSAN NAS, means that Argonon are able to add disk groups to their data pool easily. Thanks to the QSAN “Instant Ready” technology, there is no build time on the parity, so this process is not only fast, but also amazingly safe and simple.

The flexibility to support VMware, Hyper-V, Citrix, Windows, Linux, or Mac OS 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. Karl 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 easily implemented as a straight forward swap out, causing no downtime for the users, and resulting in a huge performance gain across the network.

Karl also pointed out that while QSAN’s UK based support is impressive, 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”.

Final say

When asked how Trustco and QSAN performed against his expectations, Karl 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”.

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Media & Post Production

Customer quote

“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”.

 

Karl Dawkins, Group IT Manager, Argonon