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Bezeq reduces storage costs and improves user performance with CTERA

Company Background

Established in 1984, Bezeq is Israel’s leading telecommunications company with over 15,000 employees. Leveraging the most advanced technologies and services, Bezeq and its subsidiaries offer a rich portfolio of offerings to the consumer and business segments, including landline and cellular phone services, broadband Internet, data communications, corporate networks, and satellite/Internet-based multi-channel TV.

The Challenge

In 2018, Bezeq’s file storage strategy had reached crossroads. For more than a decade, its storage infrastructure had been based on the EMC Celerra NAS solution. EMC had discontinued the product and the maintenance agreement was coming to an end. As such, Bezeq’s IT team was faced with a choice: replace EMC Celerra with a similar NAS appliance or use this opportunity to modernize its storage infrastructure and leverage the cloud.

Bezeq’s decision was swayed by the ever-growing costs and overhead of its legacy NAS solution. As its file storage capacity needs steadily grew, so did its investments in storage array expansion, maintenance and management. In addition, due to the massive number of folders and files, Bezeq struggled with NDMP backups which wasn’t able to fit the backup window and couldn’t properly validate DRP scenarios.

Another issue Bezeq had to solve was the performance of its on-premise VDI solution. As the user profiles were stored on the legacy NAS appliance, Bezeq encountered user performance problems, particularly during peak hours. A common example occurred in the mornings, where VDI login could commonly take as long as one minute for thousands of users trying to login concurrently.

In evaluating potential solutions, Bezeq found that popular NAS solutions like NetApp and DellEMC were expensive – both in terms of hardware and ongoing maintenance – and would also necessitate purchasing a new backup solution.

“By replacing our NAS appliances with CTERA’s cloud-based solution, we have reduced our storage footprint and significantly lowered overhead and costs.”

Igal Muginstein, Storage, Backup & OS Team Manager

The CTERA Solution

Bezeq’s IT & Storage team has been providing CTERA-based backup and file sharing services to its small business subscribers since 2011. “One of the reasons we chose CTERA also for our in-house file services was that we had seen their technology in action at thousands of customer sites,” said Igal Muginstein, Bezeq’s Storage, Backup & OS Team Manager. “After witnessing the results, it only made sense that we should consider the same technology for our internal NAS infrastructure.”

Bezeq deployed in total 11 CTERA Edge filers in two different locations across the country all connected to a global file system hosted over Bezeq’s own cloud infrastructure.  The distributed filers serve Bezeq’s 7,500 corporate users and dozens of application users accessing the files over SMB and NFS, storing home folders, internally shared folders and Citrix VDI profiles. The main filer is deployed at Bezeq’s main site in Jerusalem with a DR site in Tel Aviv.

“By replacing our NAS appliances with CTERA’s cloud-based solution, we have reduced our storage footprint and significantly lowered overhead and costs,” said Muginstein. ” CTERA’s efficient edge-to-cloud architecture lets us scale elastically to meet our growing data capacity needs, while improving performance for our VDI users.”

CTERA stores all folders in a single global namespace for desktop and VDI users, while all files are synchronized and backed up to the cloud, enhancing data protection and facilitating collaboration.

For VDI users, the Edge Filer exposes home folders as a network drive that is cached to the cloud, while “old” files are automatically tiered to the cloud rather than using virtual desktop storage. This approach enabled Bezeq to enlarge home folder storage quotas by a factor of ten – from 5 GB/user to 50 GB/user. In addition, by storing home folders on the Edge Filer, Bezeq was able to reduce login times for VDI users (mainly call center operators) by 15 seconds on average.

The CTERA Enterprise File Services platform is fully integrated within Bezeq’s system and application environment. It enables file sharing for all Bezeq departments (marketing, Finance, IT, etc.), interfaces with massive billing & CRM archives, and supports new data-driven call center solutions.

Work From Home

Given the recent, work from home requirements, Bezeq is now in the process of expanding the deployment to include CTERA Drive endpoint agents for 1,000 marketing, sales, and executive users that need to access and share files from laptops and other mobile devices.

This agent incorporates smart caching technology that presents the global file system as an infinite local drive on the user’s device, with fast and secure file access, allowing users to work at home or any other remote location as if they were at the office.

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