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Stockbridge Capital Group Deploys DataCore Storage Virtualization Software with Microsoft Hyper-V to Meet Their Non-Stop Business Needs
DataCore Software, a leading provider of software-based virtualization solutions empowering storage, today announced that Stockbridge Capital Group, LLC (“Stockbridge”) has deployed and realized significant IT operations and business benefits from implementing Microsoft Hyper-V Server and DataCore for server and storage virtualization, respectively.

“The thing we have found about DataCore’ storage virtualization solution is that it offers all of the high-end features, including enterprise-class high availability, but at an affordable price,” states Stephen Pilch, COO, Stockbridge. “We are a midsize company, with enterprise needs. We have offices all around the country and we need to be running non-stop 24 by 7. DataCore’s software lets us easily leverage our investment in existing and new technologies and empower our virtual servers to meet non-stop business needs while fitting our budget. It is a perfect match for us.”    

BayNODE, an Information Technology consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area, worked with Stockbridge on the design, implementation and on-going management of the overall virtualized IT infrastructure. BayNODE was already in the process of virtualizing a number of different servers at Stockbridge into Microsoft Hyper-V Cluster environments. Also, an IBM fibre channel SAN solution was already in place to handle some of the SAN-related tasks. However, the company was in dire need of a highly available SAN solution – ideally an iSCSI solution – that could get the job done. With a limited IT budget, BayNODE started looking around for all possible options. It was also imperative that any solution could also leverage the hardware investments that were already in place. It was soon after their research started that BayNODE found DataCore.

“We validated the DataCore product and liked it,” states Cem Kursunoglu, president, BayNODE. “We had the hardware in place. We saw the fit and we knew we had the ability to implement it. More importantly, it was the perfect solution for the needs at Stockbridge.”

The deployment of DataCore would not only coincide with, but make possible, a migration project involving Neverfail, an application and server-level disaster recovery solution. This was a fairly complex scenario. The Neverfail product was Neverfail Protector for Windows File Cluster, which is a solution that replicates whole, Windows physical file clusters to a third server, which is located at the disaster recovery (DR) site. Proclaimed as “a wonderful product” by BayNODE’s president, the problem was that the costs and maintenance of the physical server were staggering. The goal was to lower the maintenance costs by moving away from a physical, Windows file cluster to a virtual Windows file server that sits on a Cluster Shared Volume, a property of Microsoft Hyper-V Cluster, which BayNODE already had installed at Stockbridge. “Cluster Shared Volumes” (CSVs) serve as a shared storage technology for Microsoft Hyper-V Clusters.

DataCore made it possible to lower these costs by serving as the repository for the files during the migration. Prior to the migration, the file repository was located on an IBM fibre channel SAN that was itself running out of space. What was needed to make the transition happen was a SAN solution that was also able to deliver high availability and allow iSCSI connectivity to support the clusters, VMs and Neverfail. “This is where DataCore fit perfectly,” adds Kursunoglu.

The virtualized infrastructure now supports Microsoft Exchange server and the file repository for use by all employees. BayNODE is now in process of taking the Exchange 2007 Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) setup and moving it from a cluster to a single Exchange server located on a Microsoft Hyper-V Cluster, which was impractical to do without DataCore.

For now, two DataCore-powered SAN servers are synchronously mirrored to one another, keeping the systems highly available and delivering business continuity, and the applications as well as the data is replicated by Neverfail, which serves as the DR component. Seven (7) Hyper-V hosts are running currently at Stockbridge and there are over 25 virtual servers spread across these nodes. As you would expect, the footprint of physical servers has shrunk drastically. Prior to virtualization Stockbridge had well over 30 physical servers; this number has been cut down to 12. The two DataCore high availability nodes run on IBM x3550 servers using external storage that is managed, pooled and networked where and when needed by the DataCore storage virtualization software.

Along with DataCore storage virtualization for shared storage, the CSVs allow all the nodes (the hosts) that are part of the Microsoft Hyper-V Cluster access to the same SAN resource at the same time – there is no “passive-active.” All nodes access the SAN resource at the same time. The CSV technology uses either fibre or iSCSI-based SANs. Because Stockbridge already had the fibre resource in place, they wanted to add DataCore’s iSCSI SAN to support the CSVs as well. “We were pleasantly surprised that the iSCSI SAN because of DataCore actually performed better than the fibre SAN, in terms of its speed and accessibility,” notes Kursunoglu.

Scalability and Ease of Use Win the Day

According to BayNODE’s president, the beauty of DataCore lies in its ability to get up and running in just a couple of days – encompassing all aspects of the implementation. “Of particular benefit to us as a partner and Stockbridge as a customer is the scalability of the product,” explains Kursunoglu. “It saves so much money compared to what you would otherwise have to pay for more capacity through a hardware-only approach. We can scale and grow DataCore as we wish, on-demand, and we can thin-provision our capacity needs. DataCore gives so much power in terms of flexibility and scalability – I cannot even put a price on it.”   

Stockbridge and affiliates have over a hundred people spread across the country who rely on the company’s IT systems. BayNODE essentially serves as the outsourced IT arm for Stockbridge. “Customers trust us to manage all types of IT environments and operations and Stockbridge is no exception,” states Kursunoglu. “We serve as the internal IT team for Stockbridge – with engineers onsite. Our responsibilities include budgeting, operations, implementation, maintenance, consulting – everything.”

Stockbridge has multiple offices across the country and is headquartered in San Francisco. The company manages real estate investment portfolios with properties throughout the United States.

Published Tuesday, October 26, 2010 4:55 PM by David Marshall
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