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ETO Selects DataCore and VMware ESX 3.0

DataCore Software, a leader in virtual storage solutions, today announced the deployment of a new DataCore powered SAN at ETO, the leading independent Marketing Services group in Europe. The DataCore software consolidates and optimizes the management and utilization of over 13 Terabytes (TB) of data. ETO has implemented a DataCore flexible virtual infrastructure combining both Fibre Channel and iSCSI connectivity to power their physical and VMware virtual servers. Two mirrored DataCore SANsymphony servers virtualize and add business continuity failover protection to IBM DS 4300 Fibre Channel arrays - supporting the company's major databases, while a SANmelody server adds iSCSI capabilities to an IBM SATA storage enclosure transforming it into an IP SAN that serves disk space to systems over the LAN.

Created in 1986, ETO has developed an impressive portfolio of large French and international accounts in distribution, luxury products, as well as the services and retail industries. Today, ETO is the premier operator of marketing and promotional discount card programs in France, with over 35 major loyalty card programs launched and over 60 CRM and marketing applications hosted.

Posting an annual growth rate of 15%, ETO has had to address a constant increase in the volume of its data and therefore decided to revamp its information technology systems. X27, a CRM application designed and developed entirely by ETO, represents the majority of the data, while their back office applications and customer databases (Sybase, SQL and others) make up the remainder. The challenge for ETO was multi-fold; first, the company needed to manage the storage resources in a centralized way and be able to allocate disk space on demand. Second, the solution would need to not only optimize ETO's existing investment, but also enable the company to implement disaster recovery (DR). Last, the new system would also need a Quality of Service (QoS) feature, making it possible to guarantee performance with each application in a virtualized environment. From the outset, ETO had doubts as to whether a SAN existed that would allow them to adequately manage QoS.

At the start of 2006, the company began researching virtualization and iSCSI solutions in the market, notably VMware for server virtualization and DataCore for storage virtualization. Having learned of DataCore's SANmelody product from a press article, ETO downloaded the "trial" version of the product from DataCore's website. Afterwards, DataCore contacted ETO and installed its flagship SANsymphony software at the site - enabling ETO to evaluate the enhanced storage services and feature set (QoS management, in particular). After weeks of exhaustive business continuity and user tests and in light of the significant performance gains achieved by SANsymphony, ETO ordered two SANsymphony Storage Domain Servers (SDSs) and a SANmelody Disk Server to meet their needs. The deployment of a new, flexible virtual environment and SAN turned out well and took less time than initially planned.

In parallel and in order to virtualize their servers, ETO decided to test the newly released VMware Virtual Infrastructure ESX 3.0, which supports both Fibre Channel and iSCSI. The company currently has over one hundred physical servers dedicated to its infrastructure (e.g. domain, email, file system files, etc.), to the web and to their databases. ETO intends to reduce the number of physical servers by at least a factor of four by October, 2006.

"DataCore and VMware enabled us to reduce our administration workload, to simplify server administration, and to automate and rapidly deploy disk space that is so critical to our business," said Francois-Xavier Ousselin, Director of Information Systems at ETO. "The DataCore team has a wealth of experience and they were responsive and proactive with their expertise. The numerous and brilliant ideas they brought to the installation, as well as their detailed test procedures really helped us to deploy the complete solution effectively and saved us an enormous amount of time. VMware also impressed us with their solutions, especially the productivity gains and simplicity in administration. Thanks to a combined solution, we have now reduced the time to bring up a new production system and our administration time by a factor of 10 or more... Until now, when a new application was launched or when we had to increase storage capacity of an existing system, it took us on average fifteen days to order, test and install a new machine. Today, we can do it all in one day - even in thirty minutes, if needed."

ETO is now getting the most out of their storage by profiting from both iSCSI (simple and economic connectivity over Ethernet LANs) and Fibre Channel (for satisfying the I/O requirements of their most performance-hungry databases). The solution provides high availability and supports clustering application servers for performance and high availability. ETO is therefore able to migrate machines reliably and without interrupting production. If the primary production site becomes inaccessible, a backup disaster site 500 meters away makes it possible to immediately restart the machines - thanks to the synchronous replication of the data by DataCore's SANsymphony. ETO also intends to implement a third SANsymphony node, with DataCore's AIM (Asynchronous IP Mirroring), for replicating their data to a third site currently under construction, which is located many kilometers away.

"ETO required a new level of ease of use and flexibility," said George Teixeira, president and CEO of DataCore Software. "Working with VMware and DataCore, ETO achieved an order of magnitude improvement in deploying systems. Moreover, the company optimized its resource utilization and met its Quality of Service objectives using SANsymphony storage services, SANmelody iSCSI disk servers and powerful VMware virtualization technologies. With this combination, ETO enhanced performance and functionality and improved interoperability - since both VMware and DataCore enable hardware independent virtual infrastructures."

Published Tuesday, August 29, 2006 10:12 AM by David Marshall
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