Monday 6 August 2012

Spalding University Reduces the Cost of Storage and Realizes True High Availability with DataCore Software’s SANsymphony-V Storage Hypervisor

Ezra Krumhansl, director of information technology at Spalding University, was looking to increase storage capacity in response to the university’s exponentially increasing amounts of data and to also address a critical flaw in their SAN (storage area network): lack of redundancy/single point of failure. The university was growing quickly and its infrastructure needed to be updated to support this growth.

“We needed to perform significant upgrades to our storage environment and infrastructure so that it could support our growing school,” commented Krumhansl. “In addressing our needs, including introducing redundancy, we weighed many options from the likes of HP and Dell to potentially replace our legacy IBM SAN. DataCore’s SANsymphony-V storage hypervisor gave us the flexibility we required to perform a robust upgrade and accomplish all of our goals, without breaking the bank. Being an institution of higher education, we always need to do more with less, so that Spalding can keep tuitions costs affordable to the communities we serve.”
Preparing for the Exam
During the initial selection process, Spalding University considered solutions by HP’s LeftHand and Dell’s EqualLogic to potentially replace their existing IBM fiber channel SAN. A major point of concern was to avoid two things: vendor lock-in and having to perform a very costly rip-and-replace hardware upgrade in just a few years. Krumhansl determined that Spalding University’s IBM SAN did need to be upgraded from its four terabyte (TB) capacity. It was also a single point of failure and did not have any redundancy built in.

Krumhansl wanted failover capability – both for the purposes of disaster recovery/business continuity and for reasons concerning systems maintenance. Bottom-line: Spalding needed non-stop business operations and high-availability, both for the planned and for the unplanned.

Spalding weighed its options of upgrading to a newer IBM fiber channel SAN, or selecting either LeftHand or EqualLogic. The upfront costs with IBM hardware and SANsymphony-V proved lower, as were the long-term/lifetime costs of support, renewals, etc. The real differentiator for Spalding University was having a software solution that was device independent, making hardware merely a commodity.

Storage Hypervisor Makes the Grade
Spalding University ultimately decided to stay with IBM, purchasing IBM 3650 servers, each running DataCore’s SANsymphony-V storage hypervisor. Krumhansl was able to accomplish his goals of virtualizing Spalding’s infrastructure and increasing storage capacity and redundancy. Spalding relied on The Mirazon Group to put storage virtualization software from DataCore at the heart of its IT infrastructure. The Mirazon Group serves as a trusted IT advisor to Spalding University as well as to approximately 50 other DataCore Software customers.

Spalding’s storage infrastructure is now virtualized and supports 22 TBs of data. It is running 30 virtual machines on 15 physical servers. In addition to DataCore for storage, Krumhansl uses VMware for both server and desktop virtualization.

A co-location facility (called “Peak 10”), located just a mile and a half from the university hosts both the primary and secondary mirrored systems – thereby providing the high-availability required by Spalding. The university is connected to this co-location facility through fiber channel connectivity.

“The biggest benefit we have realized with the DataCore storage hypervisor is replication – meaning synchronous, real-time mirroring and the virtualization of the backend storage environment. The data protection features definitely hit home. We don’t worry about losing a hard drive or data because there is redundancy built in, in so far as our having two nodes and even having redundancy within them,” explained Krumhansl.
Krumhansl continues, “The device independence also enables us to install, mix and match any server combination we choose, allowing us to leverage, where needed, the best features that each brand has to offer. The bottom line is that we have the freedom and flexibility to make investments that best suit our needs, both at the time and into the future. Regardless of whether we need an expensive, high performance server for frequently used resources, a cheaper, lower performing one or if we just want to repurpose and extend the viability of existing hardware, we know the storage hypervisor can manage them all.”

 The full case study may be found here:

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