Photo caption: Tribal members enter the powwow arena at the annual Citizen Potawatomi Nation Family Reunion Festival Powwow.


This is a guest post by Christopher M. Abel, Director of IT, Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Citizen Potawatomi Nation is my employer. It’s also my tribe—a Native American people with a long and proud history. My grandmother was one of the longest-serving employees of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, with a 30-year tenure. As a director for the tribe, she was instrumental in bringing healthcare services to members. 

Today, as the director of IT, I’m continuing her legacy by using technology to support the tribe’s mission. It’s my job to make sure the Nation can deliver a wide range of services to its 30,000 tribal members. That includes everything from the Cultural Heritage Center, tribal rolls, and Indian child welfare programs to grocery stores, casinos, and gas stations. All of them are at least partially dependent on our core infrastructure. The same goes for websites and general government operations. 

Over the past few years, we’ve significantly expanded our digital capabilities to keep up with the times, serve members effectively, and run the government efficiently, with the ultimate goal of preserving the Potawatomi culture and language. In the digital era, there’s no better way to achieve all that than to adopt fast, scalable storage that can keep up with our expanding data. That’s why we’ve moved almost everything to Pure Storage®.

Running a Government on Pure Performance

When we first started considering Pure, we were looking to replace our HP 3PAR SAN. Between our two data centers, the 3PAR systems took up a full rack of space and weren’t keeping up with the tribe’s digital initiatives. With Pure Storage FlashArray, we could get better performance in a smaller footprint. And with the Pure Evergreen Storage subscription model, there was no need for a forklift refresh every three years.

We worry less about the cost, scalability, and management overhead in our storage environment and spend more time making life better for the tribe and its members. Christopher M. Abel, Director of IT, Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Since then, we’ve had 100% uptime and six non-disruptive software upgrades. The Pure 1® storage management dashboard enables us to see that things are running great. We’re also spending much less time on provisioning. More importantly, we saw immediate performance gains across our operations—including accounting, the tribal rolls database, the museum catalog search tool, and our online Potawatomi dictionary. That means Citizen Potawatomi Nation can be much more responsive to the needs of members and deliver modern government services to help them thrive.

A More Flexible Data Storage Model—No More Rip and Replace

We were concerned about more than just performance. Our data is growing exponentially, especially as the Cultural Heritage Center adds large digital assets that are important to the tribe. These include birth and death records, veteran records, and family photos and videos. And growth can be unpredictable. From one day to the next, we might suddenly need 30 additional terabytes of storage space to accommodate a new batch of assets. It’s not easy to keep 30 extra terabytes of capacity lying around, and we were already at capacity with our existing storage. We needed scalable storage for all types of data, not only in the Cultural Heritage Center but also across the government.

That’s why we adopted FlashBlade® through the Pure as-a-Service subscription model to handle our more critical workloads such as file storage and museum assets. Pure as-a-Service gives us the flexibility to add capacity at a moment’s notice, which is especially important as the Cultural Heritage Center continues to digitize valuable tribal artifacts. It’s an ideal combination for us as a tribal organization—a cloud-like model that allows us to maintain control over our data. And we can expand as needed without buying a new rack of blades every time.

Pure as-a-Service also makes for an easy conversation with our accounting department. Instead of looking at up to $400,000 in capital expenditures, we’re paying about a third of that amount in operational expenditures. That allows us to shift our budget to other initiatives and tackle projects we may have otherwise put off for another year. 

In fact, we recently upgraded our VM server hosts, purchased Splunk for security information and event management, and adopted Cohesity for easy backup and recovery. With Splunk, we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s possible, and Pure gives us the capacity and performance we need to expand into server log management and more. And we see a lot of potential for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in the new partnership between Pure and Cohesity, with the ability to further integrate those platforms.

The Freedom to Innovate with Pure

One of the things I’ve come to enjoy about working for Citizen Potawatomi Nation is that there are many different ways to approach a problem. In our tribe, we don’t just throw money at problems—we have to find creative ways to do things. Pure gives us that option from a storage perspective, and I really enjoy the resulting freedom to innovate. We worry less about the cost, scalability, and management overhead in our storage environment and spend more time making life better for the tribe and its members.

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