“CTERA’s SaaS offering was confidence-inspiring for us as we transitioned to cloud storage. CTERA Cloud is always available – they take care of the hosting and manage the service, freeing our IT team from infrastructure worries.”Ned Dupont, Director of Prepress, Enterprise Systems
Fortis Solutions Group brings innovative packaging and printing solutions to the food & beverage, nutraceuticals, cosmetics and health & beauty industries, among others. With close to 1000 employees, this rapidly growing company operates 15 manufacturing plants across the United States, producing PS Labels, Shrink Sleeves, Flexible Packaging, Folded Cartons, and Booklets for a wide array of customers.
Fortis’s prepress operations begin with the artwork created in each of its regional plants. These heavy media files (Adobe Illustrator, PDF, raster images, etc.), often as large as 300 MB, are stored in the Virginia Beach, Virginia (U.S.) datacenter, which also houses the Esko Automation Engine that manages the prepress workflow.
Prior to CTERA, all of Fortis employed a traditional legacy client-server architecture in which users in regional sites saved files to the main server in the Virginia datacenter. Due to the massive file sizes involved in publishing client content and latency between Virginia Beach and other parts of the U.S., some users experienced severe file storage and access performance issues. All of this resulted in sluggish opening, saving and transferring of files between regional plants and the main datacenter. In one plant, it could take Mac users as long as one hour to save a file over the WAN.
Given the performance issues related to the WAN, sometimes users had no choice but to save their work locally. This necessitated uploading mega-sized media files at the end of each day to the datacenter, which was a time-consuming and resource-intensive process.
The CTERA Solution
Fortis’s top priority was to address these acute performance problems. Recognizing that the cloud was a “must” for any future data storage solution, Fortis decided to replace its legacy client-server architecture with a hybrid solution comprising a local filer at the edge that leveraged cloud object storage as a scalable and cost-effective backend. Following a competitive evaluation, Fortis selected the CTERA Enterprise File Services Platform in large part due to its technical capabilities as well as integration with its existing HPE environment and the ability to be delivered as a managed service.
The initial scope of the deployment includes two virtual edge filers – one at the plant with the most severe latency and one at the Virginia datacenter. [Each of these filers is installed in an existing HPE SimpliVity environment].
“CTERA’s integration with HPE SimpliVity made our decision much easier because we were able to test CTERA with minimal hoops to jump through,” said Ned Dupont, Director of Prepress, Enterprise Systems at Fortis Solutions Group. “The hardware platform was already in place. We threw a license on it and after a quick software download, we were ready to commence testing.”
The system went live in April 2021, after all the required files were migrated from the datacenter to CTERA Cloud. This fully managed SaaS offering provides low-cost, infinitely scalable object storage for unstructured data, as well managing the file services (caching, syncing, etc.). All unstructured data (e.g., graphic files) created at the plant is stored exclusively in the CTERA Cloud.
Users see the CTERA filer as a network file server and work locally on cached files without latency or delays. In the background, all data is synced and stored automatically via the cloud to the second edge filer in Virginia Beach. Moreover, CTERA includes advanced MacOS and Adobe support for Fortis’ graphic artists.
Performance has improved dramatically since deploying CTERA. File transfers and save operations are now at the same speed as Fortis’s other plants.
Not only has the transition to CTERA helped users work more productively, it has also made the lives of Fortis’s IT team much easier. Improved network performance means fewer complaints, while a modern cloud infrastructure has streamlined data management. Storage capacity concerns have disappeared, as CTERA Cloud offers elastic scalability for virtually infinite capacity without requiring any additional hardware or disks.
CTERA’s SaaS approach for file storage was another key factor for the IT team. “CTERA Cloud lowered the entry barrier to modern file services; we didn’t have to ramp up or buy hardware, and we didn’t have to worry about infrastructure at plants where CTERA was deployed,” said Dupont.
Bottom Line: High-Speed Network Performance, Fast Local File Access, Unlimited Capacity
By replacing its legacy file server infrastructure at some sites with CTERA’s hybrid cloud solution, Fortis has found a cost-effective way to accelerate its prepress workflows and support rapid data growth.
“Traditional infrastructure models can’t cost-effectively support our industry. CTERA’s out-of-the-box technology for keeping files local yet synced across other locations is a game-changer for prepress operations given the file sizes and the need to transfer work from site to site. This is not something IT can do alone.”Ned Dupont, Director of Prepress, Enterprise Systems