Wednesday 18 August 2010

DataCore virtualizes FusionIO SSDs, HP storage arrays into SAN for NIEDAX GROUP

DataCore Case Study
DataCore Software has enabled the NIEDAX GROUP to combine traditional storage arrays, already installed, with new high-speed Solid State Disks (SSDs) to create a Storage Area Network (SAN) to meet their growing data center needs. DataCore virtualization software, combined with FusionIO NAND flash memory SSD technology, has achieved a new level of performance, high availability and energy efficiency, running in production at 100,000 IOPS and 600 MB/s (megabytes-per-second) of throughput, while consuming 15 Watts of energy versus 4000 Watts with hard disks alone.

The NIEDAX GROUP, an electrical installation manufacturer, needed to upgrade its systems to meet the growing demands of its ERP system which is based on Microsoft Dynamics. In addition they wanted to migrate their base of over 40 VMware VMs onto a more reliable SAN infrastructure. The major requirement, however, driven by the ERP requirements was for a new SAN storage solution that could deliver higher performance, capacity and availability than the existing hardware SAN.

NIEDAX utilized a consultancy firm to calculate and access its data requirements and found out that if it continued to use a traditional hardware SAN it would need to add and invest in at least another two storage systems, each with a minimum of 40 Fibre Channel disk drives, to achieve the required performance and high availability. This would be a significant investment and add to the ongoing space and energy costs – so alternatives were sought.

Having seen the value of using VMware for servers, NIEDAX wanted to know if there was virtualization solution that could do the same for their SAN storage. Additionally, it also had to meet the ERP performance requirements that were critical.

The company understood the value of virtualization – having evaluated the use of VMware ESX to virtualize a number of machines and realizing the benefits of going green by reducing power consumption and heating costs with servers. So, NIEDAX asked what they could do similarly for their storage. DataCore partner S&L Netzwerktechnik GmbH evaluated the requirements and then suggested and developed an alternative plan that could build on the company’s existing investment and reduce their ongoing costs.

The solution consisted of DataCore SANmelody 3.0 software providing virtualization, performance to accelerate caching software and high-availability mirroring across the pool of storage arrays and SSDs, integration of existing HP EVA Storage Array, integration and additional disks to the HP MSA Storage Arrays, and the addition of high-speed FusionIO SSDs with NAND flash memory to boost performance and lower overall energy requirements.

The DataCore SANmelody 3.0 virtualization software runs on standard servers and enables cost-effective high availability through synchronous mirroring to occur between the heterogeneous mix of SAN hardware. The DataCore solution facilitated NIEDAX GROUP using its existing hardware in combination with the required expansion and new SSDs in order to obtain higher performance and to grow capacity. In a similar manner to what VMware had done for their servers, DataCore virtualized and made their storage hardware more efficient and cost-effective.

“We are happy with our DataCore investment and we are benefiting from the many functional and financial benefits of putting it in use,” stated Oliver Bauer, Team Leader Administration / IT at NIEDAX GROUP. “The SAN now enables flexibility in administration, ease of expansion and the ability to dynamically allocate storage where and when we need it. DataCore caching accelerates overall performance and delivers a much higher data throughput. The software approach ensures the ease of transfer and the ability to use SAN-wide features on different hardware arrays and devices. Thus it is a very cost-effective way to mirror data. For our demanding ERP application, the fact that we could run FusionIO Solid State Disks under the DataCore virtualization and management solution was critical. We gained tremendous performance from adding FusionIO SSDs and overall we reduce energy and cooling costs.”

In terms of background, the demanding databases that support ERP systems, especially in manufacturing applications such as at the NIEDAX GROUP, often do not consume very large amounts of storage. Instead, however, they do require extremely high performance. With the Fusion IO NAND SSD flash memory technology in place, the NIEDAX GROUP was able to achieve 100,000 IOPS (Input/Output Operations per Second) and rates of 600 MB/s with only 15 Watt power consumption, when running in production. By comparison, if they had used conventional Fibre Channel storage disks alone to achieve these levels of performance, they would have consumed somewhere around 4,000 Watts.

"With the implementation of DataCore‘s virtualization storage software we were able to meet all of the customers technical requirements,” said Alwin Kohl, consultant at S&L Netzwerktechnik GmbH. “In addition, with the combination of DataCore’s virtualization software and FusionIO‘s SSD NAND flash memory we were able to protect NIEDAX’s current investments in their SAN and extend it – making it green and significantly reducing long-term costs for our customer.”

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