Monday 23 February 2009

DataCore UK Customer braves the cold snap for Covershoot; David Hart, IT Manager, Oriel & Corpus Christi Colleges, University of Oxford

Dedicated Customer of the Month: David Hart, IT Manager, Oriel & Corpus Christi Colleges, University of Oxford

Hats (and coats) off to David Hart, who braved the blizzards and snow earlier in the month to pose for the covershot for SNS Europe Magazine.

The shoot had to be postponed twice as David found himself snowed-in as Britain battled against two weeks worth of snow….and although the grounds of the college looked picture perfect, the snowscene did limit the shelf-life of the Spring magazine!

Coat back on now David – it was actually -2 degrees when the photo was taken.

And here’s a little more about the implementation that David was happy to freeze for:-

Pinnacles of learning, Oriel and Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, cleverly utilise thin-provisioning in a highly available storage environment and achieve full disaster recovery between college campuses.

DataCore’s SANmelody optimises VMware environments with new degrees of flexibility and robustness.

Oriel and Corpus Christi colleges have been renowned centres of learning since the 12th century and boasts famous former students Sir Walter Raleigh, but it’s the present day students, fellows and lecturers who demand the latest IT infrastructure to facilitate a modern digital university status.

Dave Hart is the IT Manager tasked with delivering and managing this environment for both Colleges and following a recommendation from his peers in Oxford University’s Computing Services Team, Dave began to discuss his objectives with DataCore’s authorised partner, NCE.

“Our initial goal was to address server consolidation, disaster recovery and introduce a platform for further expansion,” explains Dave, “We currently have about 30 Dell Servers and 200 PCs across both college sites and approximately 1,000 staff and students – with an environment that is continually growing and making increasing demands on the IT infrastructure.”

Working with NCE, Dave has now implemented a solution that encompasses both Server & Storage Virtualisation using VMware and DataCore Software.

From a server virtualisation perspective, there are a pair of VMware ESX Servers in each college running Vmotion, DR and HA. “This provides the colleges with a greater level of resilience than the previous structure” Dave adds “and also a quicker path to Disaster Recovery.” Beneath enhancements in functionality it delivers other benefits to the colleges: “Consolidating servers to a virtualised solution has presented quantifiable savings. Once complete, a total of around 20 servers will have been rationalised and moved over to the virtualised solution. We estimate that the cost of running each server (power, cooling, spares etc.) is around £700 per annum, which timed by 20 represents a significant saving over a period of several years.”

Robustly supporting the VMware applications – DataCore’s™ SANmelody™:

Storage virtualisation has been provided using DataCore’s SANmelody solution. Dave didn’t jump both feet first into investing in this aspect. “When we saw the DataCore solution and grasped that it would run on a standard windows server and could also utilise existing hardware, we quickly realised that this would represent a better buy. Couple this with its ability to thin-provision storage over our existing Ethernet architecture and Fibre Channel connectivity, and we were comfortable that this would be a good choice.

The ability to thin-provision storage allows the university to centrally provide capacity on demand, presenting virtual volumes from the central storage pool to the applications, allocating capacity only when really needed.

High Availability and Disaster Recovery secured:

Each college currently has 1.5TB of “real” usable storage capacity beneath SANmelody, offering synchronous mirroring and auto-failover for path and data for transparent high availability. DataCore’s “AIM” (Asynchronous IP Mirroring) feature is used to replicate data of the two colleges over a low bandwidth link for disaster recovery purposes offering synchronous mirroring and auto failover for path and data. This resultant high availability solution allows full restoration automatically within minutes.

Higher degrees of Management through effective storage allocation:

What Dave and his team have also found is that utilising two SANmelody’s has allowed them to share their primary volumes more evenly to achieve effective load balancing. And the flexible management offered means that the days of guessing the correct allocation of disk space are long gone.

“Now that we have implemented it, we appreciate that SANmelody delivers additional functionality and flexibility over a traditional hardware based solution.” concludes Dave.

“The implementation went very well -once the necessary configuration was carried out on VMware ESX and DataCore SANmelody, the storage was presented to ESX as usable space and it was seamless from thereon. Overall ESX and SANmelody working in tandem provide us with a scalable, flexible, resilient platform – ideal for both production and test environments.”

Dave Hart, IT Manager, Oriel & Corpus Christi Colleges, University of Oxford.

Thursday 19 February 2009

Statewide Title Chooses DataCore To Make Their Citrix XenServer Virtual IT Environment Highly-Available

SANmelody software has been selected and deployed at Statewide Title Company, Inc.
"The selection of DataCore was designed to pave the way for the Citrix XenServer implementation that we are now in the process of deploying," explained George Overstreet, systems administrator, Statewide Title, Company, Inc. "For purposes of ease of management, efficiencies and centralizing storage, we went with SANmelody."

"Our objective was simple. Update the hardware and maximize what we have - so that we did not just plunk down a lot of money for new hardware," explained Overstreet. "Statewide's parent company had just gone through a major server virtualization project so we knew just what could be achieved as far as consolidation and maximizing hardware resources. The key for us was achieving this virtualization project within an environment that is highly available to minimize downtime and outages - all of those goals led us to the need for a SAN."

DataCore SANmelody was also selected to enable Statewide Title to do reliable disk-to-disk backups, since its NAS device had been giving the firm inconsistent results. "We knew we needed something more reliable than the NAS device that was in place," continued Overstreet. "What we found was that DataCore was pivotal in enabling us to more easily do back-ups and for automating the routine, cumbersome and labor-intensive tasks associated with storage management."

For system administrator George Overstreet, the choice was clear. "With DataCore, you just have greater flexibility," he said. "It allows you to upgrade a whole lot easier. You are not constrained by the hardware - in fact you can grow your system however you want. And on top of this, with DataCore we can also meet all of our disaster recovery (DR) requirements as well - as far as off-site replication or even just fault-tolerance at a local level."

DataCore does high-availability better - making business continuity and disaster recovery solutions practical.
* Simple, fail-safe SAN data protection
* Unique, automatic failover and failback
* Priced right for Small and Mid-size Business
* Full-featured, HA SAN software (Thin provisioning, Snapshots, Synchronous and Asynchronous Replication)
* No-penalty upgradeability and a "future proofed" growth path

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Case Story Feature: Volkswagen UK Unit Centralises, Virtualises Its Storage with DataCore SANmelody

Volkswagen Unit Centralises, Virtualises Its Storage
DataCore's SANmelody lets the VW Financial Services unit provide storage from a central pool for all types of applications
Despite a long series of ad campaigns in which it encouraged customers to "Think Small," Volkswagen in the U.K. was finding out that it needed to think big. The company's data storage requirements were growing exponentially. Email and database requirements were getting bigger all the time. Meanwhile, the company was moving to a blade server environment to keep its data center from being any bigger than it needed to be. The answer was to virtualize its storage.
"What we were looking for is a way to centralize our storage," says Mike Duxbury, senior service specialist for Volkswagen Financial Services for the U.K., in Milton Keynes, U.K. "Like many companies, we suffered from disparate disks on separate servers. So we centralized our storage. We also wanted to mirror the data."

While Volkswagen has corporate standards for applications and databases, such as requiring Oracle for all corporate databases, regional operations can choose their own infrastructure. "We are using SANmelody, which is a storage virtualization product from DataCore ," Duxbury says. "We wanted to do mirroring in real time rather than asynchronously over a fiber network. We actually use the product with iSCSI." One of the main reasons for using iSCSI was the ease with which it would fit into his existing Ethernet switched network, he says.

One of the nice features, Duxbury says, is the thin provisioning network managed volumes: "If you decide to give a server two terabytes of storage, it won't actually use it until it needs it." And SANmelody is flexible enough that you can actually allocate more storage than is physically present in the SAN, he says. This allows volumes to change their sizes as the needs of the system change. "If you haven't got the physical storage to back it up, you need to keep an eye on it so you won't run out," he cautions. But NMV also provides some critical benefits. "There's none of this building of a physical server when you need something more."

Volkswagen Financial serves out its virtual storage from a central pool. "It will be financial data, email databases, SQL databases, application services, enterprise vaults or email archiving databases," he says. "It makes it very easy to integrate different types of storage."
In the data center, "with the exception of our domain controllers, all of our data is stored on a Melody storage server," he says. "We use HP blade servers to connect to our storage servers via iSCSI. We use Microsoft iSCSI and DataCore MPIO multi-pathing software. This allows a SAN to change paths in the event of a server crash."

While the primary thrust of Volkswagen Financial's storage effort was efficiency, there were other benefits -- most notably, ease of management....

Another benefit is improved performance. "We didn't benchmark it before we integrated," he says. "We've noticed considerable improvement through virtual servers. We were running off of local disks. Now we're running off virtual disks."
In addition to storage, the company moved its SQL implementation to a single clustered environment. "Because of the way iSCSI works, we've been able to cluster our servers," he says. "We could lose the entire building and not lose our servers. It's very cost effective as well compared to EMC."
...He expects to save about £30,000 in energy costs during the first three years of use, with 60 percent of his machines using virtual storage.
But perhaps the best benefit from an IT manager's viewpoint is something else. "This has made my life easier," Duxbury says. "I'm a huge fan of the product, and it has made managing our data a lot easier. We can do maintenance on-site now and take entire buildings down and not lose IT services. That's something we've never been able to do before DataCore."

Virtualisation Sector to Grows; ZDE Report Validates Storage Sector as Healthiest in IT

Gartner Report: Virtualisation Sector to Grow 43 Percent in 2009
Despite the recession, global revenue from the sector will surpass $2.7 billion by the end of the year. The biggest market driver? Enterprises' need to reduce the total cost of ownership of its IT systems; green IT is a welcome byproduct.

ZDE Report Validates Storage Sector as Healthiest in IT
Eighty-nine percent of storage survey respondents report that they will either maintain or increase their storage purchasing in 2009. There is reason for most of the storage business to remain confident looking ahead to next year -- despite the free-falls in other sectors of the economy.
Ziff Davis Enterprise, publisher of eWEEK, reported survey results indicating that the data storage sector of IT generally remains unblemished by the economic downturn that is zapping most of the U.S. and world economy.
View the results of the survey here.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

DataCore Software Showcases High Availability Storage Virtualisation Solutions with Parallels

DataCore Software Showcases High Availability Storage Virtualisation Solutions at Parallels Summit 2009:

New customers and joint showcase demonstrations roll into the bright lights of Vegas:

DataCore Software is teaming up with Parallels at the Parallels Summit in Las Vegas this week. Attendees will see the two companies jointly present a complete virtualisation demonstration encompassing the ultimate in high availability, optimized computing solutions.

MB Trading, Ulster Greene ARC, Bryant & Stratton College, and many others are enjoying unsurpassed uptime, on-demand workload distribution and tremendous cost savings since consolidating their IT environments with Parallels and DataCore.

"We run DataCore and Parallels in tandem and are extremely impressed by the combination," said Brenton M. Brown, Chief Information Officer, MB Trading. "They give our enterprise all the benefits that come by embracing total virtualisation: fast and reliable performance, highly efficient storage and server utilisation and the flexibility to provision both server and storage resources easily, when and where needed." Find out more about DataCore+Parallels: visit

Sunday 1 February 2009

Customer Migration Story - VMware Storage VMotion & DataCore HA - Failsafe Migrations

Whilst recently on site at a large NHS Customer in the North of England, I gave some serious thought to the process of migrations from physical to virtual storage from an existing physical environment and the ramifications in the case of physical disk failure.

It occured to me that if you utilised VMWare's Storage VMotion and DataCore's High-Avaliability [HA] offering, it was possible to do a seamless, on the fly data migration from physical storage into a DataCore virtual volume, whilst remaining protected from physical disk failure at the destination.

It is often said that the most common time for a disk drive to fail is within 2 hours of being booted for the first time, and whilst 99% of us perform rigorous soak testing beforehand, there is still a chance that a disk will fail mid-migration and severely delay a project at the very least. At the very worst, it can potentially corrupt the data being transferred leading to a full recovery scenario.

If physical failure of the destination occured in this DataCore scenario, then the destination volume would merely switch over to it's highly available partner and the migration would continue seamlessly. A large reassurance in the case of this customer, whilst migrating mission critical, real time data in a 24-Hour environment.