Danielle Brown

How One of California’s Oldest Secondary Schools Solved 5 Top IT Challenges with SDS

Rapid data growth, rising enrollment numbers, IT security threats, varying instructional needs, and increased user demands from students…these are just some of the many challenges facing institutions of higher education today.

However, without the ability for IT to scale, none of these growing demands can be treated accordingly.

And as Bellarmine College Prepatory’s data grew, the more the need for shared storage along with higher performance, availability and centralized management became readily apparent.

The IT Challenge: Providing Shared Storage that is Flexible, Scalable, Stretchable and Cost-Effective

Before Bellarmine College Prepatory (an all-male, Jesuit private secondary school located in San Jose, California’s College Park neighborhood) and DataCore crossed roads, the school was in lack of a storage area network (SAN).

Several years ago, Bellarmine had received a generous donation in the form of a high, traditional SAN. But, it was used as a CIFS file server and after the donated hardware and annual maintenance expired, the school purchased a number of individual iSCSI storage rack systems (with 12-15 drives each) and attached them directly to Windows Server blades.

Then Bellarmine began to approach server virtualization via VMware and it was at that moment the IT team knew the VMs would have to be clustered to provide a fast and reliable storage infrastructure.


The other solutions stared out pretty open but eventually became very specific as to the hardware we needed to run on. At that point, we looked for more options and found DataCore

As Bellarmine’s It Director – Chris Carey – explained, “It was then that we learned about the concept of storage virtualization… At that time, it was recommended that we look into FalconStor NSS and other appliance-type products to attach our existing iSCSI-based storage and so we started down that path. But they didn’t fully meet our needs, and adding another appliance product wasn’t our primary focus. The other solutions stared out pretty open but eventually became very specific as to the hardware we needed to run on. At that point, we looked for more options and found DataCore.”

Solving the IT Challenge: Adding Campus-wide Redundancy, Preventing Downtime, Increasing Capacity Utilization and Reducing Storage Cost

Thanks to Carey and the IT team at Bellarmine, a cost effective “white box” storage infrastructure was built using SuperMicro-based servers with LSI SAS/SATA controllers, and off-the-shelf hard drives of different brands/makes/models that met all of the school’s needs.

“DataCore architecture allows us to create redundancy within our 25-acre campus by splitting our SAN, putting one node and it’s storage in our primary data center and the other node and its storage in our secondary data center,” commented Carey. “We’ve been up and running with DataCore for three years, and our DataCore-powered SAN hasn’t been down since we installed it.”

We’ve been up and running with DataCore for three years, and our DataCore-powered SAN hasn’t been down since we installed it

In addition, Carey added that Bellarmine had never initially thought of purchasing a traditional SAN. But, if the school had done so he estimates that would have saved 75% over the lifetime of the physical SAN by going with DataCore’s software-defined architecture instead. And according to Carey, “An organization like ours could never justify the cost of a traditional SAN, so DataCore and storage virtualization allowed us to have a modern SAN and virtual infrastructure – period.”

And in the end, Carey highlighted that one of the most appealing attributes brought to the table from the SANsymphony software-defined storage (SDS) solution was the ability to be fully interoperable with Windows – in other words it is as open as Windows is and lets IT attach any type of disk to the solution.

Bringing it All Together

After tying all of the pieces together, Bellarmine rated DataCore a “5” or “Excellent” (on a scaled of 1-5) when asked how well they received a software-defined storage solution.

Furthermore, the five top benefits that stood out the most, all thanks to SANsymphony were the following:

  1. Increasing uptime by reducing storage-related downtime
  2. Reducing storage costs
  3. Reducing time spent on routine storage tasks
  4. Increasing capacity utilization
  5. Increasing performance

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For more information and feedback from the school’s IT Director, download the detailed Bellarmine College Prepatory case study today!

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