Virtualization Technology News and Information
New DataCore Customer Selects SANmelody Storage Virtualization and Citrix XenServer to Provide Replication and Ensure Full Disaster Recovery
DataCore Software, the leading provider of storage virtualization software, today announced that its SANmelody software is serving as the foundation of a replication and disaster recovery (DR) plan at Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC) that was orchestrated by DataCore partner Entisys. The IT environment at ACMC was fundamentally based upon products from Dell and EMC as well as virtual machines from VMware. ACMC is comprised of multiple sites and as a county hospital the organization is under a number of budget constraints. Entisys presented the Citrix XenServer and DataCore SANmelody DR solution based upon XenServer, which provides great savings to the medical center. “Instead of buying another EMC product to replicate the SAN, we showed them what DataCore can do and ACMC was able to complete a replication scenario for pennies on the dollar with XenServer and DataCore,” said Thad Morrow, Director of Sales, Entisys. “But it is not so much about the cost savings as much as it is a case where ACMC could use DataCore to support a very distributed environment where multiple vendors’ products are deployed and make a full-on disaster recovery solution possible.” 

Under constant budget constraints, ACMC has struggled to maintain a disaster recovery or business continuity plan, and has had to use what was available to them at the time – meaning an existing data center that is thirteen miles away. ACMC had been a longstanding Citrix customer, so for cost savings it was a natural choice to replace more costly VMware for XenServers.

“We had been a Citrix shop, so I jumped at the opportunity with XenServer,” said Dave Bennett, Director of Technical Support, Alameda County Medical Center. “I liked the product and I did not see any tangible difference between them and VMware. As for DataCore, we started looking at SANmelody at the request of DataCore partner Entisys. This was the best technology we saw for our needs, whereby we could economically leverage iSCSI for the remote site SAN rather than spend a lot more on a Fibre Channel SAN.” ACMC is currently deploying the solution. The initial data pool will start at 8TBs.  

For the deployment, ACMC chose Dell hardware to run the SANmelody-XenServer solution. From a software standpoint, the solution cost ACMC at least five times less than a comparable, proprietary hardware SAN. The choice was more than just money, however; it was about flexibility. With DataCore ACMC does not have to worry about matching up machines, nor did they have any issue with the replication software being able to “talk” between disparate hosts. This ease of use and manageability was just as important as upfront cost savings because the IT staff at ACMC is already spread thin, wherein eight IT people support 2,600 users.

The mission of the medical center is to maintain and improve the health of all County residents, regardless of ability to pay. There are six campuses comprising ACMC, including the main hospital and trauma center in Oakland, California, another hospital in San Leandro, California, provides rehabilitation and extended care, a psychiatric hospital in the same location and three ambulatory clinics. In terms of the IT architecture, all of the campuses are linked via a high speed ATM providing 65 MBs of bandwidth. 

Two years ago ACMC purchased and deployed a SAN from EMC. “That was the first step we took in order to consolidate storage rather than using individual servers,” explained Bennett. “As such it was the first step down this path.” Since then, Bennett and his team have taken a different look at the way they store data as well as what is stored, particularly in terms of putting a premium on both data and systems recovery. The organization used VMware in conjunction with its EMC SAN. With DataCore, both VMware and XenServers are in place currently – although longer-term the plan is to standardize on XenServer. “The cost difference between VMware and Xen is pretty substantial,” added Bennett. “As for DataCore, I could see some real advantages in using DataCore in our environment.”

Chiefly, Bennett and his team were sold on SANmelody’s ability to first and foremost enable them to utilize existing server storage that was not being used, thereby eliminating the need to go out and buy new disk space. Performance was another key selling point. As for price, Bennett comments, “The price was right. SANmelody just made sense when you put the whole thing together – being able to use existing storage where possible and the performance increases we saw firsthand.” 

The disaster recovery site at the secondary location in Fairmont will enable ACMC to avoid going to tape back-ups. With the DR site, the IT team can pull data right away and pull whole systems up if necessary when the ones at the primary location go down. “Before this, our whole DR plan revolved around just how fast we could get servers and software available to rebuild them,” noted Bennett. “With virtualization technology as it is today, it makes to be able to bring systems and data over from another site when the situation dictates that.”

ACMC is taking the classic virtualization approach. They have physical servers, which will be virtualized and then replicated on virtual machines. The VMs with those changes will then be replicated to ACMC’s Fairmont site and available in the case of any calamity. “DataCore made this project very achievable for a variety of reasons,” summarized Morrow. “A real win for DataCore was the simplicity of the technology. Sure SANmelody is affordable, but more than anything DataCore technology is effective. Additionally, the IT staff Alameda County Medical Center could implement SANmelody quickly, as well own, manage and grow the solution very easily without the need for professional support.”

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Published Tuesday, July 22, 2008 6:22 PM by David Marshall
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