4 Ways Western Digital is Accelerating Global Engineering Productivity with Nasuni

Western Digital was already a major global technology brand when the company merged with two separate $7B companies – storage giant SanDisk and the hard drive manufacturer HGST. The combined company now includes 10,000 engineers across 40 major global offices, factories, and engineering centers, plus 100 remote and branch sites.

Integrating three large companies is challenging on multiple levels, but Western Digital had a particularly difficult task when it came to unifying its files. File data is growing at unprecedented rates across industries, and manufacturing and engineering files are becoming especially large and complex. Among other things, Western Digital had to find a way to store, share, and protect all of its files globally.

Ideally, all 40 major sites worldwide would operate as one connected, wired company.

In our latest case study, we detail how Western Digital developed a unique solution using Nasuni as a global file system backed by private cloud storage. “We needed something much more mature than the old distributed file systems people were used to from ten years ago,” says Todd Stewart, Vice President, Global Infrastructure and IT Operations, Western Digital. “We finally realized that what we needed was a globally distributed file system.”

The case study covers the entire story of the company’s digital transformation with Nasuni, but in this post I’d like to focus specifically on how Western Digital is accelerating global engineering productivity with Nasuni.

True Global File Sharing: The Power of Nasuni and Private Cloud

Prior to Nasuni, Western Digital’s engineers weren’t able to access the files they needed fast enough. The company tested multiple solutions, including a few that worked well for point-to-point file sharing, but none of them could hold up at scale.

Take the firm’s project groups. The company’s firmware engineers are now spread between sites in Minnesota, Poland, Japan, and California. They need to be able to function as one unit, but this wasn’t happening. When engineers in Minnesota finished a build, their colleagues in Fujisawa, Japan weren’t able to access the relevant files for another 12 to 18 hours.  

Employees had to wait out these extremely long copy times, and the file transfers didn’t always complete successfully. Not to mention that the previous infrastructure was nearly impossible for IT to manage. Storage products from six or seven different companies were trying to carry out scripts written by employees who didn’t even work for Western Digital anymore. The upgrade to Nasuni changed all that.

Accelerating Global Engineering Productivity with Nasuni

Nasuni works with multiple public, private, and hybrid cloud storage providers, and Western Digital was already building out its own advanced, reliable, georedundant private cloud. What the company needed was a file system to unify all of its locations and leverage the scale, durability, and global reach of that cloud. That’s where Nasuni entered the picture.

Currently, Western Digital has deployed 92 Nasuni virtual appliances worldwide. “Data can be available anywhere it’s needed,” says Todd Stewart, Vice President, Global Infrastructure and IT Operations, Western Digital. “We’ve now been rapidly deploying this globally. We have Nasuni in every significant location now.”

The company has accelerated engineering productivity in several ways, including:

1. Cutting Project Synchronization Times from Hours to Minutes

The files that once took 12 to 18 hours to synchronize between engineering groups in Minnesota and their colleagues in Japan are now available within minutes. This is possible in part because Nasuni’s global file system, UniFS®, only propagates the deltas, not the whole data set, and therefore minimizes the data that has to move around the world.

2. Reducing or Eliminating Delays, Errors, and File Transfer Babysitting

Engineers don’t have to waste time waiting for files to synchronize or babysitting file transfers only to have the transfers fail. Nasuni is both faster and more reliable. That means the group that’s making its work available globally at the end of its day – whether they’re in the U.S., Asia, Europe, or elsewhere – can actually wait and make sure the synchronization is successful before heading home for the day. Stewart says this “near real-time synching of the work product” between distant groups translates into true global productivity.

3. Instant File Recovery with Continuous File Versioning

Nasuni Continuous File Versioning® maintains a complete, immutable, versioned history of every file in the cloud. What this means is that every Western Digital location is protected: In the event of a local or regional disaster, IT can quickly restore access to the global file system, ensuring business continuity and maintaining global enterprise productivity.

4. Faster Time-to-Market and Improved Performance

What these advantages all add up to is accelerated time to market. “Among our engineering community, it has become absolutely life changing,” says Stewart. “The performance we’re getting is just radically different from what we were seeing before. It just absolutely changes the way they work and it has absolutely revolutionized their productivity.”

“Let’s Get You on the List”

The switch to Nasuni hasn’t merely helped engineering and manufacturing teams. IT has a much simpler infrastructure to manage, and Western Digital has significantly cut hard and soft costs. A few of the cost savings drivers include:

  • Switching from hardware-based storage to a flexible OPEX model.
  • Eliminating backup and tapes in favor of instant file recovery.
  • Turning off 100 storage devices and cutting their associated costs.
  • Freeing up IT time for higher value projects.

The case study has more details on these cost savings, the deployment, and how Nasuni facilitated the integration of the three giant companies. Aside from all these high-level, company-wide strategic benefits, Stewart notes one other advantage that will ring true to anyone in IT. “My phone doesn’t ring off the hook anymore,” he says. “When it does ring, it’s a new engineering group saying we need to get on the global file system, and I say, let’s get you on the list.”

For more details on how Western Digital transformed its global file storage infrastructure, download the case study now!

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