Liberating the Cloud Storage World

Key Information Systems builds an object storage offering with HPE cloud, server and networking solutions

Object Storage Use Case

Bridging the Gap
There’s an epic battle being waged in IT departments across the globe, and it’s been going on for decades. It’s the war between proprietary and open standards (generally associated with open-source), and while both factions continue to build their strategies and arsenals, only one thing is clear: Nobody is going to declare victory any time soon.

So in this great debate, it’s good to know there are thinkers dedicating themselves to peaceful solutions - technologies that can bridge the gap and give customers the best of both worlds.

Key Information Systems is one such entity. Based in Agoura Hills, CA, Key Information Systems is a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) reseller and a HPE Partner Ready Program service provider that specializes in systems integration, as well as compute, storage, and networking solutions and services for advanced software-defined data centers.

And its leaders have a deep understanding of both proprietary and open systems. For its first 20-years, the company sold primarily IBM solutions around mainframes, AIX operating system, and AS/400 system. When the IT market began shifting toward cloud, Key Information Systems needed to adapt, so it created an open-systems offering that it could host on KeyCloud that could inter-operate with proprietary systems, the company’s services portfolio that it resells to customers.

Focus on the Customer
“We found ourselves in a situation where we were trying to deliver a broader set of services to our customers, and didn’t want to be constricted by proprietary technology any longer,” recalls Clayton Weise, director of cloud services for Key Information Systems.

Specifically, the team at Key Information Systems had acquired a massive amount of IBM storage - 1.4 petabytes - that it wanted to free up to make available as an object storage offering.

“The ways businesses and their customers are creating and consuming data has actually created demand for a new kind of storage architecture. Because 80% of our data these days is unstructured, organizations are struggling to find reliable, less complex, and more cost-efficient strategies for storage,” Weise says. “Looking around at other offerings in the market, we saw a need for cloud-based DR, backup and recovery to compete with the enterprise-level vendors. We thought if we could make it work, we could come in with a great product at a lower price.”

Breaking Boundaries
Weise and team knew the offering was dependent on finding the right networking solution. “In the IT world, you’ve got compute, you’ve got storage—the network is how you present all that to your customer,” Weise explains. “Because we wanted to do something very flexible with a product that was fairly proprietary, we knew our network choices could make or break our solution.”

While pursuing the concept of modernizing the current datacenter, Weise and team initially purchased an integrated hardware and software network technology from another leading vendor, but the solution failed to deliver. “Our previous solution required us to run 25 separate actions to provision a network the way we needed, introduced an enormous amount of complexity, and ultimately didn’t do what we wanted it to do,” Weise recalls.

Soon after, Weise attended HPE Discover in Las Vegas and found himself in a conversation about HPE OpenStack, HPE Helion cloud storage, and HPE open-source networking solutions. “We really wanted to find a way to present this storage so it could be carved up in any way the customer wanted to use it,” recalls Weise. “If they want to use it for VMware® backups, they should be able to do that—even though the VMware software suite wants you to stay inside their proprietary ecosystem. If they want to use it for recovery or DR, our philosophy is that our customers should be able to do that, too. Our previous solution didn’t allow us to make that a reality that followed our OpenStack methodology.”

Weise knew there had to be a way to bring his idea to fruition. “There are so many options for businesses to take advantage of right now: cloud storage, infrastructure-as-a-service, containers, hybrid cloud. But the reality is that there’s not a good way for most people to connect all those things in an integrated manner,” Weise says. “It’s a huge nightmare, managing governance of all that because networking in the cloud is incredibly complex. The traditional way of doing it is to have silos for everything. Nothing really brings it all together. Most SDN solutions stop at the hypervisor, or bypass the capabilities of an intelligent network switching and routing architecture.”

Building the Right Mix
That conversation at Discover ultimately provided the answer Weise was looking for. An HPE solution architect engineered a groundbreaking technology stack - based on HPE Distributed Cloud Networking, HPE Altoline Switch Series, and HPE Helion OpenStack - that would finally enable the flexible, multitenant network environment Key Information Systems had envisioned.

The solution is united by HPE Distributed Cloud Networking - a software platform that enables service providers to build distributed, multi-data center environments in a simple, open, and agile way through Software-defined Networking and network virtualization. Delivered over HPE Altoline 6900 Switch Series, the platform allows Weise and team the freedom to choose whatever OS, orchestration, and management options they choose.

“This pioneering networking solution from HPE enables us to carve up our network however we want,” Weise explains. “It allows us to reprovision our existing infrastructure to create the flexible, market-leading services that our customers need. It gives us the same flexibility in our physical network that we have had with server virtualization for years.”


To read the full use case, download here.