Gilt saves 85% on data storage costs with cloud-based solution

Gilt Groupe, a flash-sale e-commerce retailer, saved 85 percent on data storage costs by switching to an enterprise storage-as-a-service system. The system gives Gilt the agility to support its rapid business growth, which was lacking in its legacy system.

The company gained scalability and manageability, while drastically reducing costs, by switching to the cloud-based Virtual Private Storage Array from Zadara Storage to replace its on-premise HP 3PAR storage array. The storage-as-a-service system is hosted by Amazon Web Services.

The solution accelerated new capacity deployment from days to minutes, while freeing staff from mundane storage management. It also uses solid state drives (SSD) to accelerate serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) drives. This architecture elevates performance by harnessing the speed of SSDs without incurring the costs typically associated with them.

"Our fundamental problem was aligning our IT infrastructure with our company growth. With Zadara Storage, we moved from a storage solution that was hindering growth to one that is enabling growth," said Anders Holm, senior systems engineer at Gilt, in a statement.

Gilt is an online shopping destination that releases new products from to its website on a daily basis with flash discounts of up to 70% off the retail price. Storing the growing number of product images was creating scalability and management issues for the company, and its storage costs were outpacing that of other IT resources. When Gilt decided to move its infrastructure to AWS, it wanted the same levels of "as-a-service" solution for its storage, but without compromising the enterprise features that its prior network-attached storage solution was delivering.

"We are able to have significantly more capacity with Zadara, at a fraction of the cost we were paying for HP 3PAR," Holm said. "What's more, our ability to be responsive to our internal customers, rather than being perceived as a roadblock, was a huge win for us."

Gilt was also pleased with the seamless connectivity between its AWS resources and its Zadara storage capacity. The solution allows connection of any of its AWS accounts, regardless of region, to any of its Zadara Storage VPSAs. Gilt is now considering replicating data between key locations and leveraging other Zadara data protection features, such as a backup option.

Gilt did a seven-day trial of the Zadara solution in October 2014, and had fully deployed its storage to the new system within three weeks, said Phong Nguyen, Gilt co-founder and VP of research and development.

"The ability to spin up more storage on demand when you need it and only pay for what you use is a very attractive configuration," Nguyen told FierceRetailIT. "In the older hardware models, you have to pay upfront for storage you would use for the next few years. By the time the storage is used up in a few years, the hardware is already outdated."

In addition to the 85 percent storage cost reduction, time savings for staff, and improved agility, "Gilt was able to avoid a massive capital expenditure investment in storage that was essentially a sunk costs for 5 to 7 years," said Noam Shendar, COO of Zadara. "Instead they now can pay only for the storage they use out of operating expense, paying only for what they use, when they use it."

The storage market is moving from a traditional model of capacity acquisition—that is, evaluate, purchase, manage, replace—to a new model of "as-a-service" that has proven to work in the cloud space, he said. "Adopting the as-a-service model is critical for the hyper competitive retail space where the difference between profit and loss can be based on very small margins. Retailers need to be flexible, agile and responsive based on market fluctuations and demand, and to do this, their IT infrastructures must support such agility, not work against it."

Summarizing, Nguyen said it comes back to economics and data capacity. As their business expands, data storage demand growth is constant, such as Gilt's need to add more product images. "Instead of paying for the next few years' storage costs for the data growth up front, you only pay for what you use. If you no longer need some of your historical data, you can delete it and shrink the cost of your storage."

For more:
-See this Zadara press release

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