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Sun Media Beats Deadlines with SanDisk ION Accelerator™ Appliance

Central Canada’s largest newspaper publisher, Sun Media, distributes time-sensitive news around the clock to their extensive network of newspapers and websites. However, when the company’s DBAs could not tune the Oracle database to adequately deliver time-sensitive news and query responses to journalists, they integrated SanDisk ION Accelerator software to improve performance by as much as 20X.

Challenge

Middle Canada’s largest newspaper publisher, Sun Media, distributes time-sensitive news around the clock to their extensive network of newspapers and websites. Articles are written in real-time and distributed to over 200 online sites across Canada. Time is of the essence, as breaking news must be sent out immediately. Website layouts dynamically adjust as new content, both text and pictures, is pushed out in real-time to web sites distributed across Canada. At the same time, journalists can query online sites for news, requiring search access to history as well as breaking stories.

The time pressures of the news business are intense and Sun Media’s database administrators (DBAs) were constantly tuning the company’s Oracle databases to speed the delivery of time-sensitive news and provide fast queries to journalists. DBAs were calling daily for advice on new tuning ideas, but “no matter what we did, it wasn’t enough,” said Richard Roy, CIO at Sun Media.

Sun Media deploys Oracle 12c databases with DataGuard for mission- critical applications. To maximize responsiveness, the company had invested in high-performance Dell blade servers with 128GB memory running Linux operating systems and connected with a low latency storage area network (SAN) to minimize storage latency and improve responsiveness. However, storage performance has continued to be the dominant bottleneck since the performance-hungry applications were serviced by general-purpose, disk-based SAN that had limited IOPS, could not easily be upgraded, and are difficult to tune by application.

 

The SanDisk ION Accelerator™ Solution

Roy had heard about flash for servers and was intrigued with using a shared flash appliance to add performance to his existing environment without reconfiguring his existing servers. He learned that the ION Accelerator appliance could be easily integrated into his existing storage area network and so that hot and cold data could be intelligently located for optimal performance and cost management.

The application testing and integration of the ION Accelerator appliance was an important proof point that the product was tested and certified with his Oracle applications. And he was pleased to learn that the ION Accelerator appliance included an Oracle Enterprise Manager Plug-in so that Sun Media DBAs could monitor performance and capacity through the Oracle management tool that they used on a daily basis for managing other elements of these critical databases.

“The SanDisk ION Accelerator appliance delivered immediate results for the team. “We were simply amazed by the speed. Now we can focus on managing our business instead of tuning performance.”

Richard Roy CIO, Sun Media

Results

20x Improvement in Application Response Time– Solid-state flash delivers nearly 1,000 times better latency, bandwidth and IOPS performance metrics than legacy mechanical disk drives. So it is no surprise that a shared flash appliance could speed response times by 20x – even when shared across multiple servers and when accessed over a storage area network connection.

10x Reduction in Performance Tuning Time– Without the need for constant daily tuning, maintenance time and costs were reduced from 10 hours per week to less than 1 hour with ION Accelerator. Once the DBAs were relieved of the daily tuning, they were free to manage the database results instead of the performance.

Avoided $350K SAN Upgrade– The storage performance bottleneck was instantly relieved. “We went from waiting on IO to waiting on CPU,” said Roy. “You have to try it to believe it.” Other options for solving the performance bottleneck such as upgrading the SANs or adding more DRAMs were substantially more expensive and disruptive. Instead, the existing SANs continue to be used for cold storage or for less performance- intensive applications.

SanDisk ION Accelerator

World-class performance

  • 1.7M IOPS
  • 23GB/sec bandwidth
  • 56 microsecond latency
  • 12.8TB, 25.6TB and 51.2TB capacity

Reliability and HA features

  • Component protection
    – Flash, port, switch, power supply
  • Appliance protection
    – Fallover, failback, non-disruptive upgrades
  • Application protection
    – Cluster server configuration support

Why This Matters

Companies are spending valuable resources on storage and application tuning to eek out incremental performance gains. By applying high performance flash to accelerate application performance, companies can realize massive application performance gains, which allow them to focus on more strategic, revenue generating activities that are more impactful to their business.

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