The opportunity to rebuild a $2 billion company’s IT infrastructure doesn’t come around often. Tribune Media’s CIO David Giamburno met that opportunity, and modernized one of the nation’s largest independent broadcasting and print companies, while the company was splitting in two.

In an interview with Network World, Giamburno detailed his biggest challenge: Keeping the IT department running while the company was reworked from the ground up. That meant a lot of backend drudgery. “There’s no cosmic joy to backend systems,” Giamburno told Network World.  “Everybody just expects them to work, like electricity. To visualize the job of splitting the company, I used a grilled cheese sandwich metaphor:  It looks nice and neat, but when you cut it and pull it apart you get all the gooey, messy stuff.”

To make this messy sandwich a bit neater, Giamburno decided to build a private cloud — and that meant finding virtualization and storage solutions. Giamburno set two teams — one on OpenStack and one on VMware — on one goal: getting 1,000 servers running in under a month. The VMware team won within the first week. The choice to go with VMware was obvious to Giamburno.

Tribune Media began migrating its applications to VMware. To do this, they needed storage. Fortunately for Tribune Media, VMware Virtual SAN, the hyper-converged storage infrastructure for virtual machines, is a part of the core VMware product.

With VMware VSAN, Giamburno had his team establish a storage setup from the top-down. Flash would be used for high-performance; Virtual SAN for the bulk of day-to-day needs; and Cohesity for backups, replication, recovery and more. The result is an efficient, flexible and automated storage system capable of tackling current and future needs.

Another immediate benefit was cost. As Ben Gent, Global Cloud Architect at Tribune Media pointed out, Tribune Media was able to purchase forty terabytes of useable disk in an eight node system. This option, Gent said, cost less than what a whole shelf of storage would have cost in the past while handling up to 80 percent of Tribune’s main datacenter workloads.



Traditional storage is expensive. Very expensive. VMware Virtual SAN isn’t. It’s built right into the server, and is a part of the system. It’s not separated into a different array and it doesn’t need a lot of day-to-day engineering to keep running. It’s why VMware works.


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