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Amid the uncertainty of the #Dell and #EMC merger this fall and what it means for customers, there’s one for whom things are working out quite nicely. #Revionics , a producer of price optimization software in Austin, Texas, turned to Dell partner #Nexenta to lower its storage costs and gain more flexibility in the management of its data. Dell outfitted Revionics with Nexenta’s software-defined storage system, #NexentaStor 4.0. And because Revionics is also completely virtualized via #VMware technology, Revionics now has a one-stop shop in Dell for all its IT infrastructure needs. “From top to bottom, the blades, servers and the storage—not only the hardware, but we buy the license for Nexenta through Dell,” said Sunny Nair, vice president of IT for Revionics. “We deal with one company, one representative instead of dealing with six different vendors.” But even before the EMC merger was but a twinkle in the eye of Michael Dell, Revionics was busy re-architecting its storage layer around Nexenta. Many of Revionics’ customers are online retailers or omnichannel retailers in North America and Europe. The company offers real-time pricing recommendations via its “secret sauce” of predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms, officials said. Some customers are looking more for what Revionics calls “responsive” pricing, which is achieved by monitoring competitors’ price updates and changes in customer shopping behaviors. In all, Revionics monitors 18 million products across 62,000 retail sites and locations, which can present challenges for data management and storage. The price updates come in the form of recommendations to Revionics customers and all prices are subject to a scenario analysis that helps them understand what the impact on sales, margins and units will be if they implement a certain price change. Storage Sprawl Enter Nexenta. Revionics had been managing a hodgepodge of storage servers and platforms from #DellEqualLogic, #Hitachi and #IBM. Not only was this setup costly, it also was difficult to manage with respect to customer data needs and service level agreements, said Nair. Nexenta’s storage management software is based on ZFS, the file system that was part of Sun Microsystems’ OpenSolaris, which was open-sourced after Oracle bought Sun in 2010. Nexenta was formed to shepherd the project and productized the Nexenta OS, which supplies file and block (SAN) and object storage services for JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) hardware. Nexenta also partners with #Lenovo, #Fujitsu, #HPE and #SuperMicro, among others. Now “Nexenta forms our underlying storage layer,” said Nair. This includes “the applications as well as the database servers. Virtually all aspects, from our compute grid to our #Mongo clusters use the Nexenta storage.” Revionics has about a petabyte of storage, of which 400TB is on Nexenta-based Dell MD 3060 flash and hybrid boxes. The company plans to build out its newest data center on the east coast over the next year and convert the remaining storage to Nexenta. Defining Storage The Nexenta-based boxes supply all the IOPS (input/output operations per second) Revionics needs at the right price. “If we hadn’t selected Nexenta, with the same $135K we spent, we would have only been able to buy half the storage, which would have effectively tied our hands and diminished our business scalability,” Nair said. But beyond price, the real benefit of the software-defined storage is the ability it gives users to manage their storage on a more granular scale and bundle storage resources more easily as needed. According to analyst group Gartner, software-defined storage abstracts storage from physical or virtual devices independent of location or class of storage to offer operational agility and deliver quality of service while optimizing costs. For Revionics, that means “we can specify small units of storage ourselves to target specific applications where we want either extremely low latency or we want high volume and we don’t care about latency or IOPS,” Nair said. Nair said he also looked at EMC’s ViPR controller and some other open-source solutions, but they weren’t as mature as Nexenta at the time. And Dell is helping Revionics set up Nexenta to achieve exactly the type of storage or IOPS it needs. “The most important thing about software-defined storage is how you architect it, if you want to get the maximum benefit out of it,” he said

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