Virtualization Technology News and Information
Building a Storage Virtualization Foundation: Hoefer Wysocki Architects Uses DataCore’s SANmelody as a Blueprint for Success
DataCore Software, the leading provider of hardware independent, storage virtualization SAN solutions, today announced that Hoefer Wysocki Architects has selected and deployed DataCore’s SANmelody™ as their storage area network (SAN). Hoefer Wysocki Architects is a mid-size architectural firm, which had maintained a steady headcount of 35-40 employees for a number of years running. Brenda Dvorak, IT Director, was initially trying to solve the data storage issue with more hardware. The whole business of archiving what the firm needed to save data-wise got to be a real hassle for Dvorak. Then in 2006 the firm won Kansas City’s Small Business of the Year award and shortly thereafter the firm quickly doubled in size. The more jobs that the firm landed meant an increase in the number of files employees were generating as well as larger files and a larger data storage problem.  

A Storage Virtualization Infrastructure That Leverages VMware 

“In terms of deploying a SAN, during the span of six months the partners went from ‘Absolutely not, we are not going to spend that much money’ to ‘Let’s do whatever you need,’” said Dvorak. “We were at the size that we needed to put something in place that would allow us to grow and not have to add hardware all the time and essentially throw away what we already had.” In terms of past work experience, Dvorak came from a SAN environment – a hardware SAN environment. She was well versed in the cost difference between the two. Even with the knowledge that the software route was far less expensive, it helped that DataCore partner The Mirazon Group could more fully make the case for a software SAN.  

Barry Martin, partner at The Mirazon Group, presented the whole vision of storage virtualization. “I really did like the idea,” commented Dvorak. “Rather than spend $70,000 on a piece of hardware, I could spend far less going with a software SAN and use some of the existing hardware that I had. That’s the reason we went the way we did.” While Hoefer Wysocki looked at other SAN solutions, the firm went upon the recommendation of DataCore’s partner in choosing SANmelody. “Moreover, we could put in another SANmelody solution very easily and still be under what we would have paid for a true hardware SAN,” added Dvorak.  

While Hoefer Wysocki did purchase some new equipment to support its VMware implementation, chiefly new Dell servers that have been deployed to serve as host servers, the firm has been able to use existing hard drives in conjunction with the SANmelody deployment. SANmelody runs on two of the firm’s existing, yet very powerful, Dell servers and performs primarily as a disk server to provide virtual capacity. Disk chassis hook onto these for additional storage.  

Better Managing Data Storage and Solving Disk Space Issues through a Virtual SAN 

Currently, Hoefer Wysocki Architects many types of documents and data. These include blueprint and design work files and typical Word, Excel and email correspondence files. However, the larger files come from the drafting software in the form of AutoCAD files. Prior to SANmelody, the firm had separate servers for various job functions, whereby project managers had utilized certain servers and the marketing staff relied upon others. “These were both out of space before we went virtual,” noted Dvorak. The firm leverages iSCSI in their implementation, which Dvorak applauds both for its price and for its speed. 

“I have the luxury of being able to forget about SANmelody, because it just works in the background as it should,” concluded Dvorak. “Now, I do not have to constantly monitor disk space. Has it made my life easier? Absolutely. We have been using it for almost six months and it has never failed. That is huge for me.”  

“Mirazon believes in delivering solutions to our customers that make sense,” said Barry Martin, partner, The Mirazon Group.  “We never deliver a solution to our customers that we would not spend our own money on or use in our own environment.  The SANmelody solution makes sense on so many fronts. The most powerful aspect of SANmelody is that it enables a customer to utilize all of the enterprise features of a virtualized server and storage environment.”  

The firm has also just deployed a replication SAN, based on SANmelody, which serves as an onsite, backup SAN. While the additional SAN replicates the current SAN as is co-located in the same IT room, in the future the firm will utilize the software to do full disaster recovery offsite. Interestingly, DataCore partner, solution provider The Mirazon Group, is located in Louisville, Kentucky, while Hoefer Wysocki Architects are in Kansas City, Missouri. The SAN installation was able to happen remotely. How many other companies can install a SAN remotely? To Dvorak, with hands-on experience using hardware SANs, this is very significant. “Hardware SAN vendors cannot remote-in,” she commented. 

The Ripple Effect of Going Virtual – Energy Savings, Cost Savings and More Space  

Not only did SANmelody solve Hoefer Wysocki’s storage issues right away, but the SAN meant that Dvorak could better leverage the VMware virtual machines that they were also implementing. “We did everything at once in terms of going virtual,” noted Dvorak. “I needed to both minimize all of my hardware and add storage. That is really hard to do with a hardware SAN.” By going virtual, Dvorak was able to retire a lot of the hardware and has far more space in the IT room to show for it. This was more important than one might first imagine. First, the IT “room” is about the size of a closet. Second, what previously filled the racks and took up all the existing space in the room generated a great deal of heat. Less hardware means less power and energy costs too. Dvorak also has far more space as the amount of servers occupying the racks has been greatly reduced after “going virtual.”

Published Thursday, January 10, 2008 5:46 AM by David Marshall
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