Glenn Howells Architects was established in 1990 and has built a strong reputation over 26 years as one of the foremost design-led architectural practices in the UK. With offices in Birmingham and London, the practice’s work is characterised by clarity of vision and an innovative use of materials.
The studio has won numerous national and international design competitions, and has received more than 100 awards for projects ranging from cultural buildings and housing to large-scale urban mixed-use developments. Its Savill Building, which used an innovative grid-shell roof structure, was shortlisted in 2007 for the RIBA Stirling Prize.
GHA are a 135-employee architectural practice, with two UK sites. As the business has continued to grow, their existing NetApp storage estate, and manual archiving approach, has struggled to scale with the growth in data being generated.
As the practice reached a crossroads, with anticipated further forklift upgrades in their storage estate, a decision needed to be made: either continue to use traditional storage technologies and manual archiving strategies, or take a new approach that automates the archive process and leverages Cloud infrastructure to manage their data growth with a consistent cost model.
Aside from the challenges of growth and data management, the ability to collaborate both internally and with external third parties has been a challenge, and becoming more so as the practice expands its reach.
Nephos Technologies believe that, to cope with today’s infrastructure demands, a two tier datacenter infrastructure model is what’s required. This involves a primary tier for performance workloads such as VDI, and a capacity tier for unstructured data.
This approach mirrors the demands being placed on GHA and their infrastructure as the business continues to experience growth. By working closely with Nephos Technologies, GHA are moving to this two-tiered model, moving away from a traditional infrastructure approach.
Nephos Technologies will be working with GHA to deliver a performance tier based on Nutanix’s market leading hyper-converged platform; consolidating both storage and compute to support virtual and performance workloads.
Alongside the Nutanix platform, Nephos will be providing a cloud integrated storage system from Nasuni to centralise their file data into Microsoft Azure, and deliver a unified file system to their locations. This approach enables the firm to remove the need for file based backups and by nature enables collaboration across their locations without the complexity. Nephos are also utilising Qstar’s archive platform to automate the process of archiving their aged data, again using Microsoft Azure as the back-end storage pool.
What Benefit Does This Bring
Nephos’ alternative approach to delivering infrastructure will deliver several benefits to GHA, not least a reduction in initial investment compared to the planned expansion of their existing NetApp infrastructure.
Jonathan Carthy, Head of IT for Glenn Howells explains:
“From an IT perspective, the solution Nephos Technologies will be delivering, reduces both initial investment costs, as well as the overall total cost of ownership for our storage infrastructure, whilst at the same time reducing the management overhead of managing backup and archive processes.
From a user productivity standpoint, the solution Nephos are providing will enable us to reduce the time that it takes our architects to produce their CAD designs by creating a single unified file system across our Birmingham and London studios”.
When GHA went to market to find a solution to their growing data storage and collaboration issues, they received very little in the way of innovation, in most cases the answer was a forklift upgrade of existing platforms to provide a greater capacity. This approach, though it provides a short term answer to the problem, continues the cycle of large scale, costly hardware upgrades.
GHA were looking for a different approach. One that could provide them with the ability to scale in a more controlled and predictable way, without large scale infrastructure programmes.
It was Nephos’ independence and expertise in delivering innovative infrastructure solutions that led to them being selected by GHA to give them an alternative approach that provides a more predictable and sustainable model to support data growth. explains further:
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