Global IT: Storage for Distributed Development Teams
For any enterprise software or hardware company, development has gone global. Companies are chasing better talent and lower costs they quickly find themselves and their teams much more distributed than before.
Distributed teams require better sharing and collaboration tools, driving organizations to upgrade their communication infrastructure and connectivity. I’d be willing to bet almost every one of these companies has a whole boatload of WAN accelerators – anything to bring the offices together right?
“Data has gravity.” You’ve heard it right? The idea that data has mass and as that mass grows it attracts applications and users to it. Interestingly for development companies, the real problem is the mass of that data. These organizations need to ensure that the right data is in the right place at the right time. As scripts are created, binaries are compiled, and code is built it needs to be quickly and effectively distributed across the globe.
Moving this data around the world is a bit like you or I trying to move across town. We’ve got a lot of stuff that has to be packed up, shuttled to our new home and then unpackaged and reassembled. It’s a daunting task for an individual – even with your buddy’s pickup truck. WAN acceleration is a bit like buying pizzas and asking your buddies to help. They take a whole bunch of load off but in the end you’re still sweaty and exhausted trying to get everything done.
Such was the challenge one of our customers was faced with just last year. An IT team struggling because they felt like they had exhausted their options with no real results. In our first meeting I did my best to play the all-knowing Nasuni employee: "Of course we can do that! No problem - it's designed for this kind of thing!" While in the back of my head I had to wonder - what am I getting myself into here? Is this a case of a customer stretching the envelope or will their stringent requirements flat out tear the envelope apart?
Build and script data are an odd combination of a few large binary files (which are a pain because of all that mass) and lots of small text files. In order to support distributed development teams you need to be able to provide both to remote users on-demand and with local performance. To accomplish this we needed to take a look at our systems: Was Nasuni moving data as quickly around the world as we could? Were our efforts to maximize the bandwidth available to us (compression, dedupe, etc.) paying off? What we quickly realized was that the Nasuni service was well poised to deliver a much better storage experience (and higher productivity) to distributed development teams.
If you’re following my analogy, you probably already guessed it - Nasuni is like a full service moving company. We’re going to show up early, pack up all your belongings safely and securely, all while making sure they reach your new home much faster than you could do it yourself. Actually the great part about Nasuni is that you have all of your belongings at your old house AND your new house. We’re not just moving that mass – we’re making it available wherever you want it.
For our customer this meant no longer waiting hours for files to synchronize costing productivity and wasted development cycles. The administrators could stop trouble shooting the hundreds of nightly RoboCopy and rsync jobs across several storage and backup systems. Overwritten files and inconsistent datasets were a thing of the past. Now their systems are synchronizing every sixty seconds - giving engineering the data they need where they need it, when they need it.
One of the exciting aspects of bringing a product to market is watching as your customers discover exciting new ways to use the product – ways you never thought of. For Nasuni (with our single & fully centralized development team) making engineering data available around the world was one of the use-cases marketing drew up on a whiteboard. As it turns out, great products have a way of finding the right use-cases all on their own.
Questions, comments, and even rants are appreciated. Until next time, drink the red wine – it’s good for your heart.