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Alchemy Plus Uses DataCore's SANmelody to Achieve Simplified SAN Virtual Storage Management for Hosted Environments
DataCore Software, the leading provider of storage virtualization software, today announced that Alchemy Plus, a leading Scottish server farm, is using DataCore’s SANmelody™ solution to provide a hosted server virtualization farm environment for small businesses under a “Pay as You Use” utility computing framework.  

Alchemy Plus’ data center is located in Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands. David Massey, Chief Technology Officer at Alchemy Plus, noted, “We wanted to bring the power and efficiencies of virtualization to smaller organizations that typically were only running a single server or a couple of servers at most. We knew in order to succeed that we would have to develop a model that was as cost effective as it was functionality rich, using the principles of utility computing – a concept where the customer only pays for what is used.”  

Through this service, Alchemy Plus can provision an entire corporate desktop environment allowing their 100+ customers to experience reduced capital overheads, zero downtime and seamless provisioning of the latest applications onto their environment via a robust, securely protected Storage Area Network (SAN). Alchemy Plus selected DataCore’s SANmelody to support the VMware applications robustly and provide flexible, centralized storage capacity “on demand.” SANmelody fitted the bill to provide business continuity, thin provisioning and allow for flexible, generic growth for the companies’ eight servers (mid-range Dell servers) and 61 virtualized servers – some of which are client dedicated, while others are shared across a Fibre Channel SAN.  

Massey explained. “We have grown a steady business in providing virtualization solutions to small businesses. What we wanted to achieve through VMware and DataCore was an optimized utility solution that facilitated utilization of common resources (CPUs and disks) and both flexibly and readily deployed these resources to our customers. In effect, we sought to deliver a solution that presented applications and data in a total virtual desktop environment to subscribing customers who remotely connect in.”

For total business continuity, accredited partner Transam recommended that the SAN comprise two SANmelody 2.0 nodes running on Dell PowerEdge servers in order to provide synchronous mirroring for failover and auto recovery of clients’ business critical systems, load balancing and disaster recovery. The results have been assuring both for the participating companies and for the host. SANmelody’s thin provisioning capability means that physical storage is delivered only as it is consumed. With SANmelody, Alchemy Plus has not had to speculate up front as to how much storage has to be allocated. Storage can be delivered on-the-fly, entirely dependant of demand, as pre-defined volumes of storage are presented from a central storage pool to needy applications.

In terms of testing the high availability and business continuity of the host service, a failure that could only have been described as catastrophic last year was handled with no disruption to clients. In fact, Massey recounted, “There were no noticeable effects as VMware supports multi-pathing, allowing the path to be seamlessly reverted and switched, while SANmelody auto recovered, rebooted and was up and running within minutes without any data loss.”

In terms of financial commitments, through SANmelody’s thin provisioning delivered within utility computing, clients have access to 12TB of storage from the VMware servers, while only needing to deliver physical storage as needed. Massey knows that he can scale simply by adding extra storage to SANmelody up to 48TB. Moreover, even beyond that, Alchemy Plus can upgrade easily to SANsymphony. He further commented, “DataCore’s thin provisioning allows our physical storage to scale up and out, inline with our users’ usage and our ‘Pay as You Use’ model.”

SANmelody is part of the cornerstone of building a true Highlands-based Alchemy Plus data center. With a naturally cooler climate than the rest of the UK (on average 3 degrees cooler), the Scottish Highlands are an obvious and environmentally friendly location for companies to relocate their data centers. It is planned to be one of Scotland’s first Green data centers, and underpinning this will be the slim-line use of servers and storage operating within a fully virtualized infrastructure.

In summary, Massey concluded, “This concept attractively offers small businesses’ no capital outlay and over a 3 year total cost of ownership we have found that our customers experience savings from 25% to in excess of 40%. Now that’s compelling!”

For a free 30-day test drive of DataCore's affordable line of feature-packed SAN virtualization solutions, please visit: www.datacore.com/trialsoftware.

Published Saturday, June 28, 2008 11:07 AM by David Marshall
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