Fully optimized auto-tiering, disaster recovery and high-availability infrastructure supports both student and critical applications
READING, U.K., April 23, 2015 – DataCore Software, a leader and premier provider of Software-Defined Storage and Tier-1 Enterprise Storage Virtualization, today announced that one of the U.K.’s largest education colleges and providers of vocational courses, Kirklees College in Yorkshire, continues to build and rely on DataCore’s SANsymphony-V platform to provide its 20,000 full- and part-time students with a modern learning delivery environment. In addition, Jonathan Wilkinson (Head of IT) and Simon Powell (Senior Storage Engineer) have the dual task of maintaining the Kirklees College IT Services with an emphasis on providing and maintaining a first rate and flexible student infrastructure that is able to meet student’s continuing education needs, alongside of supporting the ongoing delivery and continuous availability of the College’s core business systems (Finance & Accounts; HR; Email; Microsoft SharePoint).
“It is true that lots of solutions claim to offer resilience, but there are few solutions on the market that could offer us the total peace of mind that DataCore offers, and has done so for many years. Once installed, SANsymphony-V is a transparent software layer that you can fine tune as you go along without fear of failure, downtime or a dramatic overhaul to the infrastructure or College budget. We wouldn’t face the future without it,” noted Jonathan Wilkinson, Head of IT, Kirklees College.
The Challenge: Remove any IT obstacles in a rapidly transitioning infrastructure
Part of Kirklees College’s success in being at the forefront of this dual delivery of continuing education and core business services lies with the flexible, always-on and ready to expand, software-based IT infrastructure delivered through a fully functioning Storage Area Network (SAN). The decision to move toward software- driven storage actually occurred eight years ago, well ahead of the mainstream rush, to combat incidents of outages of their virtual servers through the deployment of the DataCore software. Then, as the College expanded and merged, the DataCore storage virtualization services continued to comfortably provide a scalable and robust platform for expansion and resilience.
During the last 18 months, as part of a move to the new campus’ data center, DataCore Gold Partner NCE recommended an overhaul of the original SAN infrastructure with new storage hardware from the Nexsan by Imation® storage family together with an upgrade to DataCore’s SANsymphony™-V10 enhanced software-defined software platform for full future-proofing and latest feature sets.
The Solution: SANsymphony-V10 on campus and disaster recovery site plus high-speed write acceleration
The resulting on-site dual mirrored DataCore SANsymphony-V10 nodes were installed on Dell PowerEdge servers in the data center, with a third synchronous node housed off-site, approximately six miles away in the Dewsbury campus for disaster recovery purposes. Now, fully armed with the ability to perform additional operations such as Random Write Acceleration to speed transactional processing and DR snapshots that ensure replication of data on a real-time basis, the team could relax in the knowledge that they are flexibly enabled for many years to come.
According to Powell, “There are some neat features in the upgraded DataCore solution that we have noted. We now use Random Write acceleration to reduce the storage overhead as it produces faster storage-friendly sequential writes at our busy data mining times. Auto tiering now also automates and allocates the data seamlessly and even though we hope that we will never need a full disaster recovery scenario, we are confident that we are now well placed to.”
The Benefits: Transparent high availability and performance for underlying Nexsan by Imation storage hardware
Indeed, the College now fully utilizes DataCore’s auto tiering feature to ensure the most appropriate and efficient element of the Nexsan by Imation storage is served to each application. For example, files from FileShare are allocated to lower performance SATABeasts, while the College’s critical accounting data interrogated from the SQL Server database is auto tiered and promoted to a higher performing storage tier housed in the Nexsan by Imation E60 architecture for superfast transactional processing across the College. Effective and automated allocation of data to the most appropriate store continues to lower the cost per TB at the College.
Maintenance is also now more effectively orchestrated. Given that students have campus access year-round and until 10:00 p.m. each night, planned downtime for maintenance, to introduce new firmware, or to provision new virtual machines, is no longer required as the College now simply takes down one side of the mirror at leisure, applies the update and then resumes full dual node service.
Flexibility of the solution is a key attribute for the College. DataCore opens up choices through its full agnostic approach to hardware provision, taking stranded storage capacity into free space and has allowed the team a more bullish approach to selecting the most appropriate vendor without fear of future lock-in when the hardware warranty expires. Flexibility is also paramount in considering the way that the College caters to students’ learning preferences under the latest government recommendations.
“Essentially, we were looking to build upon what had already been achieved using DataCore as a platform. The pace of change facing education is nothing short of a revolution in the way we facilitate our students,” said Wilkinson. “What needs to underpin this change is a watertight, expandable, storage system that allows us to grow capacity as needed and keep applications highly performant on a continuous basis. SANsymphony-V delivers the high-end storage services we need today and provides the flexibility for further growth in the future.”
About DataCore Software
DataCore is a pioneer in Software-Defined Storage. The company’s proven storage virtualization and virtual SAN solutions empower organizations to seamlessly manage and scale their data storage architectures, delivering infrastructure agility, mission critical resilience, and operational simplicity through a comprehensive platform providing Tier-1 Enterprise storage capabilities. In a complex world of 24×7 application services, DataCore painlessly delivers more data faster.
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