Cheil extends the scale and durability of AWS cloud storage to multiple offices worldwide
Cheil Worldwide, a marketing company under the Samsung Group, has 53 offices on five continents. Offering a range of advertising, public relations, digital marketing, and other services, Cheil has compiled a long list of brand-name clients, including Absolut, Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Microsoft. The award-winning agency centers its multi-platform campaigns around ideas that move, and as the digital files representing its creative campaigns have grown in size and complexity, Cheil has been forced to rethink how it stores, protects, and shares unstructured data.
The firm’s search for a new platform began with a single location, explains Cheil EHQ (European Headquarters) IT Operations Manager Michael Goral. The London office had been relying on traditional NAS storage hardware. But after only six years, the maintenance fees on the hardware had climbed so high that it would have been less expensive to buy an entirely new box.
As Cheil and other global marketing agencies work with more 4K and 8K videos, Adobe Creative files, and documents, the volume of files stored is growing rapidly. This growth isn’t predictable at Cheil, either: An office’s file storage needs will expand and contract with its work and the nature of its engagements with clients. The traditional approach to storing files wasn’t suited to this kind of business.
“Our IT department was looking for a solution that coupled simplicity with flexibility, which would be more agile and suited to the business and times that we are living in,” Goral explains.
The challenge for Cheil’s IT team was to find a solution that met these requirements while also satisfying their strict security requirements.
Leveraging AWS to Manage Unstructured Data
The cloud had obvious appeal, but this wasn’t an option for Cheil until 2017. At that point, Cheil began looking at a private cloud deployment of AWS, but the firm still needed a solution that could leverage the scale, resilience, and global reach of AWS to help manage Cheil’s unstructured data.
The IT department had another essential requirement: simplicity. With 32 offices across Europe and Africa, and limited IT people resources, Cheil needed a solution that would be less complex than everything else, introduce some automation, and lessen the burden on the IT department.
“We were looking for a solution that would be less complex than everything else, introduce some automation, and lessen the burden on the IT department.” Michael Goral, EHQ IT Operations Manager, Cheil Worldwide
As the IT department began evaluating their options, the list of requirements gradually expanded. Cheil wanted a platform that would:
- Consolidate unstructured data
- Eliminate islands of storage
- Simplify backup and DR processes
- Preserve content long-term
- Maintain robust performance
The more research the IT department did into cloud services, and their own needs, the team realized that Cheil needed to enhance collaboration as well. “As much as our offices are separate, there are projects that we work on together, and users have started to ask more for collaboration,” Goral notes.
In the end, the IT department sought a true long-term solution. They didn’t want to find themselves back in the NAS refresh cycle, forced into buying something new in three or four years because of file growth or rising maintenance and service costs.
The Cloud-Native File System
After an extensive research process and analyzing several other cloud solutions, the team found that they were all too complex and expensive. They even considered a renewed pitch from their traditional storage vendor, too – until Cheil discovered Nasuni. Nasuni is a multi-cloud platform, but it has a seamless integration with AWS. Officially certified for AWS Storage Competency, Nasuni has also been recognized as an AWS Well-Architected partner, a distinction given to partners that enable cloud architects to build secure, high performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure.
The Nasuni platform is built around UniFS®, the world’s first cloud-native file system. At each office, virtual or physical edge appliances cache frequently accessed files for high-performance access, while UniFS maintains the “gold” or authoritative copy of each file in secure AWS storage. As a result, files and metadata both scale in the cloud, not on local hardware, allowing firms to shrink their local file storage infrastructure needs by as much as 80%. “It’s a cloud-first model,” Goral notes. “We don’t need to worry as much about maintaining on-site infrastructure and hardware.”
Nasuni Cloud File Services
Flexible, Cost-Effective OPEX Storage
Nasuni immediately satisfied one of Cheil’s primary initiatives: To switch from CAPEX-based storage to a more flexible OPEX, service-based model. In some Cheil offices, staffers were simply buying a new shelf every time they ran out of storage. “This approach was not ideal,” Goral admits. “Since our team was tasked with developing a new storage strategy for Cheil, it was clear we needed something simpler.”
Nasuni offers pay-as-you-grow storage capacity that decouples storage growth from local hardware and can scale out to hundreds of global offices. UniFS is designed to minimize data movement, which keeps cloud egress costs low, and Nasuni’s intelligent file archiving reduces the long-term cost of storing unstructured data in the cloud.
High Performance Access at All Locations
Nasuni edge appliances deliver LAN-speed performance by caching files locally. Intelligent caching algorithms ensure that frequently used files are available to end users, and UniFS quickly reinstates files in the cache when needed. End users enjoy the same performance and access experience they’ve been accustomed to – and in remote and branch offices, users often note an improvement in performance.
“We no longer have to run around with tapes. We have clear recovery points. We have a clear DR scenario. Each office can go down and we can replicate that data in another office. This is something that has not existed at Cheil until today.” Michael Goral, EHQ IT Operations Manager, Cheil Worldwide
Fast Recoveries Without Backup or Tapes
Nasuni Continuous File Versioning® maintains a complete, versioned history of every file in AWS. As files are written or changed, these deltas are securely propagated to the cloud, maintaining the authoritative “gold” copy of the file. This new approach to data protection completely eliminates the need for additional file backup, tapes, or Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity solutions. Yet it delivers faster, more reliable recoveries and 15-minute DR.
“We no longer have to run around with tapes,” Goral says. “We have clear recovery points. We have a clear DR scenario. Each office can go down and we can replicate that data in another office. This is something that has not existed at Cheil until today.”
Reduced Administrative Complexity
“Our team was looking for something that would intelligently, efficiently, and automatically manage file storage across multiple locations,” adds Goral. “We would define the policy, and then it would just do it for us.” Nasuni meets this standard while giving the Cheil IT team enhanced control with the Nasuni Management Console.
Consolidated Islands of Storage
One of the challenges of managing a network of independent offices is that each location has its own way of doing things. The Cheil IT department isn’t just faced with consolidating each of these silos of storage under the Nasuni global file system, they also have to reduce the number of miniature islands within these offices – files stored on a variety of media and systems. Nasuni is designed to unify all of these disparate pools of storage into one global file system maintained in the cloud – without disrupting the end user experience.
Strong Security Across All Offices
This proliferation of storage media within offices isn’t merely a management headache, it also presents a security risk – making it harder for IT to ensure that each location is managing its data according to corporate defined requirements. With Nasuni, each file is chunked, compressed, and encrypted with customer-controlled encryption keys before it moves to the cloud, which means neither Nasuni nor AWS can decrypt Cheil’s file data. The Nasuni Security Model, which has been tested and validated within multiple major enterprises worldwide, extends to every file within UniFS, alleviating concerns about insecure islands of storage.
Cost-Effective GDPR Readiness
Nasuni has worked with multiple companies across Europe to help them ensure their file data storage meets the requirements laid out by the GDPR regulations. With a responsibility for the European office, GDPR was a major concern for the IT department. “We have to be compliant, so it was important that we had a GDPR compliant storage solution without a lot of investment.”
Outlook: A Cloud Storage Solution for the Future
In the first phase of its deployment, Cheil will deploy Nasuni at nine branches across Europe to replace expensive on-prem storage infrastructure. Capacity in these offices will scale in AWS, and backup and tapes will be replaced by Continuous File Versioning. The next steps are for Cheil to leverage Nasuni and AWS to deliver more strategic value back to the business and its creative teams.
Intelligent Search and Digital Asset Management
Different Cheil offices sometimes work for the same client, although the projects might be a few years apart. In the past, a case study, survey, or research project conducted on behalf of the client in one office might not have been readily available to another Cheil office taking on a project for the same client. “How can we save the planning team in Office B some time by giving them easier access to the data that was already generated in Office A?” Goral asks. “The top executives in Cheil Worldwide have spoken to me and said, OK, we’ve kept this data, now how can we leverage it?”
After the initial deployment, the plan is to implement a digital asset management solution compatible with Nasuni to make answering these questions easy. This isn’t a fantasy: Another Nasuni and AWS client, a global architecture firm, developed a tool that allows architects to search for files and images associated with past projects. This saves architect’s time, helps guide future cost estimates, and provides creative inspiration for new projects.
Enabling Collaboration Between Creatives
More global creative agencies are looking for ways to take advantage of their distributed talent, but firms don’t always have the infrastructure to support collaborative creative work, especially when large, complex files are involved. With Nasuni, Cheil Worldwide is poised to maximize its creative talent, regardless of location. Since the gold or authoritative copy of each file resides in the cloud, files can be made available to end users with the proper permissions anywhere in the world.
Expanding to Remote and Branch Offices in Africa
Although the Cheil deployment is limited to nine offices initially, the big picture plan is to find a storage solution of the future for Europe alone. “In the long term, we’re looking to deploy to our remote offices in Africa and elsewhere,” Goral notes.
With the traditional approach to file storage and data protection infrastructure, this would have been a massive endeavor, but Nasuni can simply and efficiently scale out to hundreds of global locations. Each office connects to the global file system and immediately shares all the same advantages, including unlimited primary and archive storage capacity in AWS, high-performance access, fast recoveries, and 15-minute DR.
Results: A Cloud Storage Solution for the Future
Ultimately, the success of the Nasuni deployment will depend upon two factors. The first is financial. The IT department hopes to demonstrate that the platform will reduce costs both for the parent company and each independent office through several means:
- Transitioning from CAPEX to OPEX
- Leveraging archive pricing for cool files
- Eliminating separate backup, tapes, and DR
- Reducing downtime at multiple offices
The IT department is also interested in demonstrating the overall strategic value of the platform. “With Nasuni, we expect to directly improve our backup and DR processes – especially as they relate to recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives,” said Goral. “Nasuni helps us deliver value to all of our offices by eliminating islands of storage and standardizing our DR processes, which in turn makes the IT department’s life easier”, states Goral.