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StorOne serves up backup storage for America's Test Kitchen

America's Test Kitchen uses Rubrik to store backups and snapshots in the cloud, then archives older data to an on-premises StorOne appliance for faster and cheaper retrieval.

America's Test Kitchen found StorOne's S1 Enterprise Storage Platform and Rubrik backup to be the perfect ingredients for making a media archive.

ATK produces a wide range of media for culinary enthusiasts, including two television shows on PBS: America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country. It publishes the magazines Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country, airs podcasts, produces 15-20 cookbooks each year and runs an online cooking school.

Rubrik, one of ATK's primary backup systems, takes snapshots and point-in-time backups of this data and stores them in AWS S3. This data gets archived into ATK's on-premises StorOne system once it's older than five days, freeing up space in the cloud and creating a local long-term repository.

The "test kitchen" where the media company films and produces its content isn't a staged set, but a real, functioning kitchen located in Boston's Seaport District. ATK has about 250 employees, including an in-house publishing and editorial team. However, its IT team consists of just two people.

I can't be sucked into hours and hours of provisioning storage pools.
Dustin BrandtIT director, America's Test Kitchen

StorOne's ease of use was one of the biggest factors that led to a purchase, said Dustin Brandt, ATK's IT director. With only himself and a system administrator responsible for running the entire organization's IT, Brandt had to split his attention between managing the storage infrastructure and other internal operational elements, such as networking and virtualization.

"I'm not really a storage guy," Brandt said. "I can't be sucked into hours and hours of provisioning storage pools."

Rubrik, which ATK first deployed in 2018, was chosen for similar reasons. ATK previously used Datto and Veeam to protect its VMs, but this became supplanted by Rubrik because of how easy it was to set backup policies with it, Brandt said. Once ATK bought a StorOne system, Rubrik's use expanded beyond virtualized workloads to include NAS shares, as well.

ATK deployed StorOne in 2019, when a value-added reseller (VAR) Brandt was working with offered a deal on 2 petabytes (PB) of Western Digital Ultrastar units. The organization used NetApp, Dell EMC Isilon and a since-retired Nexsan SATABeast, but the capacity never reached the petabyte range. The sheer scale from the Western Digital boxes enabled keeping some of the Rubrik data on-premises to avoid worrying about bandwidth, latency and egress charges for retrieving 4K videos or high-resolution photos, Brandt said.

"I was salivating over the notion of getting that much storage space to do whatever I wanted," Brandt said.

ATK currently has a total storage capacity of about 2.3 PB, broken down into 2 PB on StorOne, 100 TB on NetApp, 140 TB on Isilon and 60 TB in VM storage, according to Brandt. Only about 1 PB is being used right now, so he estimates he won't need a capacity upgrade for at least another 18 months.

The Western Digital units were JBOD (just a bunch of disks), so Brandt needed a software layer to manage them. He first started looking at open source storage infrastructure, including OpenStack, FreeNAS and Gluster, but he said he found the amount of work to configure and maintain them was too much for his two-person team. "I very quickly realized I was over my head," Brandt said.

Dustin Brandt, director of IT at America's Test KitchenDustin Brandt

Brandt similarly found Pure Storage and Dell to be too involved, as given his limited IT resources, his ideal storage system was something with which he would have to spend very little time. After looking at both open source and other vendors, Brandt went with his VAR's suggestion of StorOne.

"I don't want a degree in storage administration. With StorOne, if I need a volume, I can just make it in 5 minutes," Brandt said.

Over the next year, the StorOne appliance will transform into more than a backup repository, Brandt said. Employee-facing assets such as the design share, the editorial share and applications they would use regularly, which are currently being stored on the NetApp and Google Drive, will be moved into the StorOne system. Migration from the Isilon and NetApp machines has already begun, and while there are no current plans to retire the other storage systems, the plan is to eventually make StorOne the production storage appliance, Brandt said.

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