The small IT Department of two manages all staff from the Covent Garden data centre and is responsible for all aspects of IT – to from desktop support, to server administration, to storage. Or, as Gabriel Granger, IT Manager, 2CV, aptly describes, “Our service spans to anything that has a plug on it.” Originally, data was held across seven physical servers – each of which housed the company’s critical applications via direct-attached storage. Five of these servers were becoming obsolete, and with that came the potentially onerous threat of rebuilding the server and its applications from scratch – should the server fail. That is no mean feat, when you consider that a failure could potentially incur days of rebuilding.
As you would expect with a company that creates, stores and manipulates research information, the amount of data on the network has seen unprecedented growth – with a 300% year on year growth rate. This explosion has been fuelled by the amount of video used in projects (2CV has its own video suite). Moreover, the size of images that are used in presentations has expanded too, with 200 megabyte (MB) files commonplace. Historical data capture and online surveys have also assisted growth. The growth of data, the opening of new offices and the additional staff fuelled the need for more servers; so much so, that 2CV found their server requirements needed to escalate from seven servers to over 20 servers.
Granger noted, “We were managing – but only just – and when buying new servers we had to err on the side of caution and over-estimate the amount of extra processing and extra memory that may be required in say three years’ time since after all, these servers had to be beefy enough to hold our critical applications and data.”
Granger recognized that the argument to virtualize was compelling – the growing inflexibility and management headaches provided by direct- attached storage only allowed access to a finite amount of pre-allocated disk. The team needed to automate capacity provisioning via an intelligent, virtualised storage area network (SAN). Plus – within a virtualized environment, adding and maintaining servers in the cluster would eliminate maintenance and downtime by simply rerouting and taking the server offline, upgrading it and then turning it on again. It would also allow 2CV to seamlessly create new virtual servers that run off a limited number of physical machines.
DataCore accredited partner, Vcentral proposed a combination of VMware’s ESX 3.0 server virtualisation platform – running on two physical servers (that facilitate 12 virtual machines on each) with DataCore SANmelody 2 serving as the virtual infrastructure providing a reliable multi-terabyte iSCSI SAN that ran on a Dell PowerEdge server and utilized the existing Ethernet network to serve storage to application servers. The IT Department were immediately impressed with the shared resources and pooling that the proposal offered. In addition, Gabe’s previous concerns of avoiding a single point of hardware failure were addressed with a clustered environment – simply re-routing data to the remaining server.
When it came to SANmelody’s capabilities the team were fortified by the flexibility of the proposal being truly agnostic as well as by it being packed with enterprise features and protection for the future – should the team expand the data centre across two locations. Even more so, the proposal addressed the problem of lack of space in the 2CV server room which would struggle to facilitate extra physical servers. And finally, consolidation itself would also reduce heat, power and physical space.
Results of Storage Virtualization:
Installation onsite took less than one day with Vcentral configuring the SANmelody solution and providing basic training on-site. And what of the ongoing daily results now that 2CV has been virtualized for 24 months These are numerous.
- Thin provisioning of storage: SANmelody automatically provides just-in-time storage allocation from a central storage pool, guessing how much disk to pre-allocate has become an issue of the past.
- Adding new machines & fault tolerance: Now servers can be deployed within minutes – because images of the server template are already stored within SANmelody.
- Snap-shots provide high speed backup: Within SANmelody, snapshots provide 2CV with point-in-time copies of volumes used in backups, testing and other applications.
- Growth re-assurances: With data growing three-fold year-on-year system administrators simply add more capacity by defining CPUs, allocating memory and hard disk space and adding more hard drives as needed.
- Futures: In the future, the team at 2CV will now have the potential to link the two neighboring data centres so they can provide synchronous mirroring, replicated backup and auto-failover as an encompassing disaster recovery (DR) solution.
In summary, Granger notes of DataCore SANmelody, “At 2CV we’re in the business of analyzing marketing and it is rare these days to find a solution that actually lives up to its marketing claims. SANmelody simply does what it says it will do – and it chugs away happily in the background. It’s just wonderful.”
About DataCore Software
DataCore Software develops the storage virtualization software needed to get the highest availability, fastest performance and maximum utilization from storage resources in physical and virtual IT environments. It provides the critical 3rd dimension on which the success of server and desktop virtualization projects hinge, regardless of the models and brands of storage devices used. DataCore Takes Virtualization to the 3rd Dimension.
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