Menu
Citigroup is cutting costs by making storage simpler

Citigroup is cutting costs by making storage simpler

The financial services company is building a software-defined storage architecture that could last decades

Citigroup is using software-defined storage to build an infrastructure that could last 25 years – while generations of hardware come and go.

The financial services company needs to transform its storage architecture to deal with growing and changing demands, says Dan Maslowski, global head of storage and engineered systems. By simplifying its architecture, Citigroup expects to slash its operational expenses, which make up most of its storage costs.

Citigroup’s need for storage is growing so fast that if costs don’t go down, the company’s spending on storage might eat up its entire IT budget in a few years, Maslowski told an audience at the Storage Developer Conference in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday.

“We can’t satisfy demand and capacity fast enough. More importantly, we can’t do it at a cost that is effective for our customers,” Maslowski said. There’s also a sheer limit to scalability. A major financial company, which may have as many as 50,000 storage points around the world, just couldn’t manage them if each one needed manual intervention by an administrator.

Public clouds offer an alternative that, at first blush, looks both cheaper and more flexible than what Citigroup can give its internal customers. But Maslowski said public clouds aren’t as inexpensive as they seem when you factor in things like the cost of migrating data back out of them.

Citigroup’s solution is to emulate some of what the cloud companies do and deliver services in a similar way: Users just order capacity and service levels, not worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

The company does this by building a comprehensive software architecture – the part that’s expected to last 25 years -- and then rolling in a standard hardware configuration that’s swapped out every few years as technology improves. It's using best-in-class hardware, and its software is designed to be able to work with anyone's equipment.

Citigroup has come up with a hardware pod that will have 1TB of RAM, 28 computing cores for data services, between 4 and 12 petabytes of flash, and probably some spinning disks. The company plans to deploy 28 of these next year.

So far, the company has gone from no software-defined storage to more than 20 petabytes deployed in three regions of the world. Where implemented, it’s cut the cost of storage by 60 percent, Maslowski said.

Though it’s meant to make things simpler, a project like this has its challenges. One is finding the right people. Maslowski says he’s hiring now. The kinds of experts he's looking for can command jobs at hot cloud companies, so there's competition.

But the biggest challenge right now involves vendors' software, Maslowski said. It would be impossible for his team to learn and deal with all the unique software tools and user interfaces that come with vendors' hardware, he said. So Citigroup wrote an API (application programming interface) and asks all the suppliers it works with to adopt it.

“Standardization on interfaces ... makes my life a lot easier,” Maslowski said.

Finally, part of his job is to ease the fears of those who resist the change, including storage administrators who have built their careers on knowing how to manage particular kinds of hardware.

“Not everyone sees the value of this, and some people are actually pretty scared about it,” he said.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments