High-Performance, Energy-Efficient Storage Is A Perfect Combo For Carmaker
When electric car manufacturer Tesla needed a powerful but efficient storage and networking solution, this systems integrator had the answer.The Tesla Motors mission statement reads: “Tesla Motors designs and sells high-performance, super-efficient electric cars.” So, it is no surprise the electric car manufacturer looked for similar elements in its network infrastructure solution. It found the answer it was looking for with InterVision, a systems integration company that used its experience with tiered storage and network architecture to provide the efficiency and a BlueArc Titan server to meet the performance needs of Tesla. The carmaker started looking for a cohesive, upgraded network infrastructure after an infusion of investment funds in June from the federal government’s Department of Energy spurred rapid growth plans.
Business Solutions, October 2009
Business Solutions, October 2009
Written by: Gennifer Biggs
With a new production site and schedule in the works, all geared toward quick availability of the Tesla electric cars, the company needed a reliable, stable IT foundation in place.
“The company had grown to the point it had to do something, or it would have security issues and downtime issues, all when it knew that — with the new investment money — it had to perform,” explains John Rees, solutions architect for InterVision. His company was already working with other businesses owned by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, also founder of Solar City and SpaceX, when he was drawn into the search for new network components. “The director of IT at Tesla, Scott Martin, determined they needed dependable mass storage, and we got involved in that sales process,” says Rees.
Because the auto manufacturer uses both Windows applications and computer-aided design (CAD) software, it needs high availability and the performance to handle those large CAD files while also handling the average needs of day-to-day applications. “The perfect solution for Tesla’s needs was an iSCSI (Internet small computer systems interface) solution, and the BlueArc Titan is one of the fastest available,” explains Rees. To make the correct choice, Tesla’s Martin created a rating matrix and evaluated seven competitors eager to solve the car company’s network needs. Martin looked at elements such as cost, uptime, support, performance, energy efficiency, interoperability, and more.
Hybrid Storage Solution Addresses Speed, Power Needs
In the end, Rees’ proposal — a dual-head Titan server matched with low-cost PowerFile Active Archive storage appliances and the BlueArc Data Migrator product to coordinate movement of data between the two systems — won the day. “We created a Titan storage cluster with 100,000 I/O [input/output] per second and 24 TB of space and then architected it so that data with lower performance needs is automatically migrated to the lower-cost, energy-efficient PowerFile storage while the higher performance data lives on the Titan,” explains Rees.
When all the proposals were in, InterVision’s recommendation won a 9.6 score (on a scale of 10) on the solution matrix developed by Martin, and the $100,000 project began. In less than a month, the new network was deployed, replacing the direct attached storage (DAS) solution utilized by Tesla in the past. “We went in with nonmainstream hardware and built a cost-effective solution by just thinking outside the box and finding a unique solution for a customer,” says Rees. “There are a lot of ways to solve an IT problem, so you need to investigate technology and see what new products are on the horizon that might solve your customer’s problem, and you will win.”
Given Tesla’s commitment to the environment, Rees knew power efficiency would be weighted heavily in the evaluation process and that the company’s new data center had to be green. The InterVision solution addressed that issue in two ways. “First, because these [Titan] servers scale so large, you lower power needs by not needing so many physical servers. Right out of the gate, you can grow without additional power supplies and space,” explains Rees. However, the Titan server, built for tremendous speed, does draw its share of electricity, so InterVision wanted to advance power savings in another way as well. That meant leveraging the PowerFile storage as secondary storage that offered extreme power savings. “Those machines basically need no power at all,” says Rees jokingly. Migrating data that doesn’t need Titan’s high availability allows Tesla to save by only using its Titan for a portion of its needs.
The next step, says Rees, is working with Tesla as it migrates to its newly purchased production facility, which will either entail moving the network infrastructure to that site or replicating the network architecture at the new site.