Known for its practical approach and successful results, Chaitons LLP is a Toronto-based law firm that provides exceptional advice and solutions to clients dealing with legal situations from the mundane to the complex. A combination of large-firm expertise and resources with a small-firm attitude gives Chaitons the ability to find and explain the options that makes the most sense to clients in a timely manner. The 80-person law firm provides services across a wide range of specialties, including banking and financial services, commercial real estate, corporate law, insolvency and restructuring, litigation and mortgage enforcement.
As an organization at the forefront of technology, Chaitons’ infrastructure had grown broadly to accommodate its various systems. The firm was up to seven host servers for its business-critical applications, including its Exchange server and document management systems, running 56 virtual machines on VMware and utilizing SANs for storage. Chaitons was spending “six figures” to maintain its hardware on top of VMware licensing. Though these expenses were acceptable to the firm at the time, the desire to upgrade a disaster recovery site was negatively impacted by infrastructure limitations caused by databases that were growing too large.
To overcome the size limitations in order to implement DR, Chaitons found that it had to upgrade to VMware 5.5 from its current 4.1 version. Chaitons brought in a third party to evaluate its architecture to accommodate VMware 5.5 and was informed that it needed to upgrade the firmware on its SANs. Chaitons then discovered that the company managing its SANs had let its maintenance contract lapse, requiring a $24,000 charge to re-instate it.
“What happened was, it was a big mess,” said Dominique Chung, IT Director at Chaitons. “There were so many people involved to do this and costs were skyrocketing just to update things. We would have been happy just running things as is, status quo, but with the upgrades needed, I said, ‘You know what? This is crazy!’ I began looking around to see if maybe the money we were paying for maintenance could be used to find some new solution. I could use the maintenance money and get an ROI very quickly.”
Chung began to look for hyperconverged solutions from a variety of vendors including Nutanix, Simplivity and others. After seeing a presentation by Nutanix, a CDW representative mentioned that Scale Computing had something similar. Despite coming in with a slightly higher quote, Chung was sold on Scale after meeting with the company.
“When Scale walked in, I was at ease in a strange way,” said Chung. “The guys were very easy to speak with. They were very relaxed about what they were selling. They weren’t pushy. I was like, ‘There’s something different about this company.’ Scale’s quote was higher than Nutanix, but it wasn’t a case of budget. I already felt more comfortable with Scale – with how it was going – and as time went by, I was sold on it.”
Scale Computing’s HC3® platform brings storage, servers, virtualization and management together in a single, comprehensive system. With no virtualization software to license and no external storage to buy, HC3 products lower out-of-pocket costs and radically simplify the infrastructure needed to keep applications running. HC3 products make the deployment and management of a highly available and scalable infrastructure as easy to manage as a single server.
Chaitons implemented Scale’s top-of-the-line-at-the-time HC4100 with 42TB of storage and 300GB of RAM. Installation took less than an hour with seamless live migrations of the firm’s VMs taking place over a short period with no impact on operations. The company was able to reduce 45u of rack equipment to 3u while significantly reducing its power draw. Two high powered APC cooling systems that ran full time in Chaitons’ server room are now deployed in a staggered one-a-day configuration to double their effective lifespan.
The firm has benefitted from the performance gains from Scale’s solution. Before the change to Scale Computing, a keyword Boolean search and other business functions took valuable time to yield a result. Now, results are returned almost instantaneously.
“If you compute how many searches a law firm does in a day, that’s a lot of time saved,” said Chung.
With nearly 50 percent of its capacity and memory still available, Chaitons has a lot of room to grow with Scale. Scale’s reduced power draw has even provided Chaitons with a longer time window to power down servers with significantly less resources draining the firm’s UPS.
Scale’s approach to hyperconvergence has allowed Chaitons to realize a cost recovery in only 18 months versus its previous setup. The solution’s simplicity has also made management of the computing environment easier for the two-person IT team, minimizing the need to rely on third-parties for support.
“In working with third parties and trying to upgrade, we had to involve an entire team of people – a SAN expert, a Brocade switch expert, a VMware expert,” said Chung. “I was like, ‘Wow, do we need all these people?’ When you have all these people involved, it’s complicated. When we were doing the upgrade with Scale, we didn’t have to involve anyone, just us, no expertise needed. For any company doing this, your IT staff can do this. You don’t have to have third parties involved.”