Thursday 2 September 2010

VMworld 2010: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Deploys DataCore Software in a Stretch, High-Availability Configuration with VMware to Ensure Uptime and Business Continuity

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has implemented a new stretch cluster and stretch high-availability (HA) storage configuration based on DataCore storage virtualization software and VMware server virtualization software to ensure uptime and business continuity. This new, stretch, dual-node configuration was implemented by DataCore partner Helixstorm, Inc. and together, DataCore and VMware form an HA configuration that spans floors – serving as an industrial-strength production system with fault-tolerance.

The goal is to transition all of ASHP’s data onto the newly configured, fault-tolerant, virtualized environment. “I am now a believer in the software-based approach to high-availability and storage virtualization,” states Jack Spencer, vice president of operations and CIO at American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. “It was not intuitive until I actually saw it. But now that I have, I am no longer skeptical. Going forward, I will put the bulk of all the money earmarked for network storage into expanding the DataCore configuration as well as building in remote disaster recovery.”

Enterprise Scalability, Seamless Business Continuity, Data Resiliency and High Performance That Supports the ASHP Membership
ASHP has 35,000 individual members. The staff at ASHP itself comprises 210 people. All benefit from the uptime the virtualized environment provides, with DataCore at the heart of it all. “The DataCore Software stretch HA solution delivers enterprise scalability, seamless business continuity, data resiliency, and high performance for a cost-effective price tag when comparing it to traditional storage arrays,” states Aaron Schneider, principal and co-founder, Helixstorm, Inc. “The best part about it is that if ASHP lost a floor to power or critical disaster, the users would not experience an outage because of seamless I/O failover to the surviving node. You get high availability right out of the box just by deploying the virtual storage software in two locations.”

The New HA Configuration: DataCore + VMware Form an Industrial-Strength Production System with Fault-Tolerance
The two HA systems are stretched across two floors at ASHP using synchronous mirroring – thereby providing data redundancy. In total, the data pool – near-line and on-line – comprises sixty (60) terabytes at ASHP. Because ASHP publishes 500+ different publications, storage has always been a big requirement. Three years ago, ASHP became interested in the flexibility, ease-of-use, centralized management and reduced costs that DataCore’s software-based approach to managing and virtualizing their storage assets afforded. DataCore was not, however, ASHP’s first step into virtualization. Prior to DataCore, VMware was deployed at ASHP and the virtual machine (VM) farm has grown four-fold over five years.

“We designed and implemented a true highly available SAN solution,” states Eric Henry, CTO and co-founder, Helixstorm, Inc. “It’s a shared nothing environment, which means the disks do not share a backplane with the controllers like traditional arrays. ASHP has eliminated all single points of failure between the application servers and the storage controllers along with increasing the data resiliency by ‘stretching’ the SAN between two floors via redundant fiber channel connections for synchronous mirroring. You just can’t get any better business continuity than that!”

A Mission-Critical Solution and Configuration
Spencer extols the value-added utilities and features of SANmelody as well as its ease of use – chiefly its simplicity in terms of set-up and maintenance. “Trying to carve out a LUN on a big SAN is a true hassle,” explains Spencer. “Then trying to maintain and keep track of the different LUNs – just the maintenance of the configuration – is very complicated. Software-based SANmelody makes it simple. It is elegantly straightforward and simple in terms of removing labor-intensive aspects of SAN maintenance.”

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