By bolstering its solution with Qumulo’s high-performance file data platform, Portalliance Engineering is now able to perform high-density computing directly from the storage array, making the service available to customers across a variety of industries.

Portalliance Engineering, a Toulouse, France-based company founded in 2006, specializes in the modelling and digital simulation of structural calculations. The company is primarily focused on the space and aeronautics sectors, with a strong expertise in building strength and integrity simulations. This unique know-how relies on intensive computing supported by a cluster of 80 HPC (High Performance Computing) servers. 

“On average, we go ten times faster than a company that does standard computing,” says Vincent Julié, Chief Innovation Officer of Portalliance Engineering. 

Part of the Airbus group since its 2018 acquisition by the aeronautical subcontractor Stelia, the company employs 70 people. The Portalliance engineering division has an annual revenue of 3.2 million euros. Over the past two years, the group has diversified by making its computing power available to new industries. This has led to a switch from its existing storage infrastructure to the Qumulo File Data Platform.

New diversification strategy supported by reliable file data management and storage 

“Our ambition is not to compete with the large public cloud providers,” says Julié. “We are targeting customers who need constant power to perform intensive computing projects on a regular basis. It was when the company embarked on this diversification strategy that we were confronted with storage issues.”

About two years ago, Portalliance Engineering signed its first two customers for this offering, both in the plant genomics field. “These customers’ needs, both in terms of computing power and storage, are enormous. In two years, we have gone from a few terabytes of data files to a hundred terabytes,” says Julié. 

Built from heterogeneous low-cost network attached storage (NAS) solutions, the company’s storage array had limitations, particularly in terms of performance. To compensate, Portalliance deployed direct attached storage (DAS) solutions. However, this caused the data to be inaccessible to other servers. These recurring transfers were also not without risk, particularly in terms of errors and data loss. 

“Storage was our weak point,” says Julié. “It was a shame to have succeeded in developing a unique HPC engineering offering only to be blocked by file storage challenges,” says Julié. “So we decided to replace this heterogeneous legacy solution with something new. After a thorough comparison, we chose Qumulo File Data Platform.

“Scaling up with Qumulo is made easier by the fact that the software solution is hardware-agnostic.”
Vincent Julié, Chief Innovation Officer of Portalliance 

High-density computing enables processing of complex calculations without interruption

Qumulo’s ability to handle both large and small files was a key factor in Portalliance’s choice. 

“Some NAS solutions perform well on large files, others on small ones, but Qumulo is good on both. That was the first factor that really counted for us because it meant we could perform computing directly from the storage array. No more jumping back and forth between the array and the servers, with all the risks of losing information that this entails,” says Julié. 

The API offered by Qumulo also played an important role in Portalliance’s decision. 

Portalliance Engineering has developed a DevOps approach which results in the automated deployment of client infrastructures through code. However, this well-oiled chain stopped at storage before the company made the switch to Qumulo. Instead, customers previously had to call the Portalliance system administrator every time things got to this stage and ask the admin to create a volume dedicated to the calculation they were trying to perform.

“The Qumulo API is very rich and well documented. It allows us to go further in our DevOps approach and make our customers even more autonomous in launching new calculations. They will be able to control the array to create, duplicate, back up or delete volumes by simply launching the execution of scripts. This is streamlined by the fact that the array includes standard functions and artificial intelligence algorithms for enabling data to be partitioned and secured according to predefined rights,” adds Julié. 

“Qumulo’s API is so rich that on closer inspection it has sparked ideas for us. We have been looking at new topics.”
Vincent Julié, Chief Innovation Officer of Portalliance 

Portalliance Engineering’s new high-density service offerings optimized with Qumulo’s high-performance, scalable storage

Portalliance Engineering deployed its first Qumulo solution in September 2020. It has a capacity of 160TB, a volume that should increase as the company’s diversification strategy gains traction. The company plans to complete the integration of storage into its DevOps chain in 2021. 

“With Qumulo, we are going to take a new step in the industrialization of our DevOps chain and optimize our service offering by enabling customers to be more autonomous in the consumption of our services.“

Similarly, it plans to replace its existing DRP by deploying a new Qumulo array at a remote site.

“We no longer need DAS to compensate for the performance losses of our old array. Qumulo allows calculations to be performed directly from the data stored in the array, thus limiting the risk of errors and data loss during transfers.”

The company has also been pleased with the support it has received from Qumulo.

“Qumulo’s pricing is more than reasonable when you take into account the richness of its solution and the quality of the company’s support. Qumulo’s support is incredible with staff who are available, competent and proactive. They are really connected to our rack and able to monitor it and alert us about the slightest problem. Whether it’s a delay on an update or an optimization that needs to be implemented. We haven’t found that commitment anywhere else, and it’s invaluable,” adds Julié. 

“Qumulo’s support is incredible with staff who are available, competent and proactive…We haven’t found that commitment anywhere else, and it’s invaluable.”
Vincent Julié, Chief Innovation Officer of Portalliance. 

Read the full case study: Portalliance Engineering Strengthens Its High-Density Computing Services by Adding Qumulo File Data Storage to its DevOps Chain.

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