ClearSky Data, Equinix Help Myers-Briggs Significantly Boost Performance, Cut Storage Costs

The developer of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment tools was paying dearly for inconsistent bandwidth to replicate data between the U.S. and U.K. for disaster recovery, but now has plenty of bandwidth and not need to replicate that data.


Myers-Briggs, the global provider of people development tools including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, recently assessed its own disaster recovery capabilities and found them inadequate.

However, with the help from ClearSky Data, Equinix and CenturyLink, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company is on the road to significantly increasing the performance of its data protection while slashing the costs of its infrastructure by up to two-thirds.

Michael Johnson, director of global network operations and infrastructure at Myers-Briggs, said that, prior to working with Equinix and CenturyLink, his company was paying about $3,000 per month for point-to-point bandwidth between its headquarters and its data centers for 500-Mbps bandwidth, Johnson said. With that new infrastructure, it is now paying under $900 per month for 1-Gbps bandwidth, he said.

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"Because CenturyLink did such a great job to get the job rolling, we've now asked for other links," he said.

Myers-Briggs was also previously paying $2,500 to $2,600 per month for 200-Mbps bandwidth for connecting the company's offices, but is now paying about $700 per month for 1-Gbps bandwidth, Johnson said.

In addition, Equinix charges about $1,000 per month less per rack, including the blended bandwidth going to the rack, than Myer-Briggs' previous provider, he said.

Prior to working with ClearSky Data and Equinix, Myers-Briggs had been handling disaster recovery by replicating data between its U.S. and U.K. data centers, but that its provider wasn't able to honor SLAs without very expensive point-to-point circuits.

Myers-Briggs was using blended bandwidth on both sides via multiple carriers that made it hard to build the right tunnel for the data.

"We weren't getting the full bandwidth," Johnson told CRN. "If there was a problem, the U.K. side said it was on the U.S. side. And the U.S. side said the problem was on the U.K. side."

The company eventually found a carrier who could handle both sides, but it was way too expensive and wasn't able to meet bandwidth requirements and SLAs, or service level agreements, Johnson said.

Something had to be done, Johnson said, and search for a better way to do storage, replication, and backups led to discussions with ClearSky Data, a Boston-based provider of on-demand primary storage with built-in offsite backup and disaster recovery capabilities.

ClearSky Data brought in Equinix, the Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of data center co-location and connectivity solutions, to help bring together a solution that met Myers-Briggs' requirements for improving bandwidth and cutting costs for its replication needs.

Steve Steinhilber, vice president of global business development at Equinix, said that while ClearSky Data worked with Myers-Briggs on the value of its data management services, his company focused on the value of the connectivity it provides via its global network of data centers, several of which are host to the ClearSky Data technology.

"It's one of the value propositions we bring for customers looking to work with disruptive technology providers to expand their business," Steinhilber told CRN.

When technology companies like ClearSky Data get in an Equinix data center, it gets all the network connections, routers and so on needed to support their customers via the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric, or ECX Fabric, Steinhilber said. The ECX Fabric allows those providers to establish data center-to-data center network connections on-demand between any to data centers on the fabric.

"Depending on where ClearSky Data and the customer wants data to reside, we provide the ramp," he said. "They can locate the data in their own data center or ours. In the Equinix data center, customers can tell us they are moving part of their data into a public cloud, and we give them the list of options to flexibly manage the data centers."

ClearSky Data is already in Equinix's Silicon Valley, Chicago, and Ashburn, Va., data centers, and will soon be its London center, Steinhilber said.

Equinix already works with several of ClearSky Data's clients, and like all customers, its needs are tested extensively to make sure the reliability and latency of the data infrastructure meets their SLAs, he said.

"Our value is that for the client, regardless of where it needs to put data, we can deploy with consistent performance and the same look and feel," he said.

Getting that consistent performance is key to why Myers-Briggs decided to work with ClearSky Data and Equinix, Johnson said.

Myers-Briggs was looking for a better way to do storage, replications, and backups, including the ability to replicate its data in seconds, he said.

ClearSky Data offers an on-premises appliance that offers flash storage performance at the edge with built-in data protection and high availability, Johnson said. The appliance acts as a cache to take snapshots of primary data and recover data when needed.

The ClearSky Data architecture promised easy data protection, Johnson said.

"For me, I don't need to do backups any more," he said. "Because I'm able to decouple the storage from the compute, I can spin up the compute anywhere, like in Azure, point it to storage in an Equinix data center, and be back up in hours. That means my need to replicate data to the U.K. for data protection is not as urgent because I can spin up the data from anywhere."

One other customer of Equinix is CenturyLink, the Monroe, La.-based provider of network services. When Myers-Briggs signed on with Equinix, it also signed on with CenturyLink.

ClearSky Data manages the entire relationship between the three providers and Myers-Briggs, as well as the company's data, Johnson said.

ClearSky Data works with a wide range of strategic partners including Equinix, as well as MSPs which also work with Equinix, said Courtney Pallotta, vice president of marketing for the storage services vendor.

ClearSky Data currently gets about 60 percent of its revenues working directly with clients, including working with clients through strategic partners like Equinix, but is continuing to build an indirect channel, Pallotta told CRN.

"We sell a service," she said. "Resellers still sell a lot of gear. It has taken time to find partners who know how to sell services. But this is changing over time."

Working with the vendor, Myers-Briggs' data sets are now in three places: on the ClearSky Data cache appliance, tiered to the storage infrastructure ClearSky Data has in the Equinix data center, and tiered to Amazon Web Services S3.

As a result, Myers Briggs no longer need extra storage at the headquarters for replication, he said.

"I don't need to do replication anywhere," he said. "So we no longer need to pay for VMware NSX or Veeam. And all the carriers go away. It all adds up to one of the best decisions I ever made."

Myers Briggs is migrating its virtual machines to the ClearSky Data appliance, Johnson said. "The performance is the same as other flash storage arrays," he said. "ClearSky promises that, if we not get the performance promised, it will add the required extra infrastructure for free."

ClearSky Data is currently in the process of setting up a storage infrastructure in Equinix's London data center, and Myers Briggs will be among the first to sign up to used that new location, Johnson said.