Virtualization Technology News and Information
Advocacy Inc. Deploys DataCore Storage Virtualization Software for Increased Capacity, Better Performance and Greater Flexibility
DataCore Software, the leading provider of storage virtualization, business continuity and disaster recovery software solutions, today announced that its SANmelody™ storage virtualization software has been deployed by Advocacy Inc. The network administrator at Advocacy Inc. was confronted with disk space issues after allowing employees to scan relevant documents onto shared drives. The organization was compelled to find a better solution to enable users to use the system without interruption. The objective was to find a solution to the organization’s capacity issue that would enable the business – and its data – to grow. Federally-funded, there is an “Advocacy” in every single state. The organization is mandated by the federal government to provide legal services to people with disabilities.

Meeting Objectives: Storage Virtualization Delivers Business Benefits

Austin-based Advocacy Inc. has thirteen offices throughout Texas and employs about 115 people. Five regional offices support 10-18 employees, while other offices are 1-4 person offices. The remote sites of Advocacy Inc. are connected through VPN back to the main office in Austin where all the servers and networking equipment are located. In terms of data storage, prior to DataCore™, Network Administrator Carlton Whitmore was trying to cope with shared drives on a Windows server, the drives contained personal information and documents that were shared with work colleagues in a given region. “When we opened up the drives for users to scan and save documents, what we found was that certain departments – particularly Legal – began overwhelming the system – from a capacity perspective – with PDF files as well as videos,” explained Whitmore.

Advocacy Inc. is now running DataCore’s SANmelody using iSCSI on a Dell server, effectively transforming that server into a dedicated storage area network (SAN) courtesy of DataCore. SANmelody runs on Windows on a Dell PowerEdge 2950. In terms of the data pool, Whitmore has split the storage in half – so that half is dedicated to the aforementioned shared storage drives, while the other half is serving as a SAN for VMware virtual machines that Whitmore has also deployed. The network administrator has also set up a virtual LAN (VLAN) because he did not want to run the traffic to the SAN through the same sub-net.

From a capacity perspective, Advocacy Inc. now has the storage they need at their disposal as opposed to the limited hard drives they had previously. As far as maintenance goes, Whitmore notes, “There really is no maintenance to speak of. The thing just runs on its own and I have never had any problems with it. If we have to reboot one of the servers that is attached to the SAN, it automatically re-attaches back to the SAN.”

Supporting VMware VMs

Just three months ago, Advocacy Inc. started consolidating many of its servers by way of using VMware. SANmelody now serves as a SAN for the VMs at Advocacy Inc. as well – serving as a storage location for the virtual machines so that these VMs do not have to use local storage on the Dell machine on which they reside.

The Verdict: Performance, Flexibility and Simplicity – Powered by DataCore

In terms of supporting both physical and virtual machines, the IT staff at Advocacy Inc. has been amazed at the performance the SANmelody SAN provides. “It is incredibly fast,” stated Whitmore. “You would think that by going through a switch with an Ethernet line that it would be a lot slower than having local storage – but it isn’t. The reality is quite the contrary.” Moreover, Whitmore and team no longer have to worry about backing up existing servers, adding bigger hard drives and then restoring the data back to those new drives. Now, the network and system administrators can allocate additional storage space from the existing SAN. These administrators also tout the benefits of having all of the storage they need in one place – versus buying, for example, five separate hard drives for a server.

For Advocacy Inc., the virtual storage approach is a far simpler one. Now when the organization buys additional hardware, it just buys one or two servers for the operating system and attach that to the SAN, thereby saving on hardware costs.

“If it wasn’t for DataCore, there is no way that we would have been able to deploy a SAN,” Whitmore continued. “We could not afford a SAN from Dell or HP – or any of the traditional, hardware-based SAN vendors.”

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Published Thursday, May 28, 2009 6:01 PM by David Marshall
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