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High Availability SAN Storage Solution For iomart hosting

DataCore Software : 05 March, 2010  (Application Story)
iomart's cloud computing and managed hosting services are protected with the use of SANsymphony from DataCore for virtualising storage and providing maximum uptime
DataCore Software has announced that iomart hosting is using DataCore's SANsymphony solution to provide the high-availability backbone for iomart's hosted customers.

iomart hosting offers managed services ranging from a single server to complex managed environments. As such, they needed to identify a high-availability solution that would fulfil their 24x7 100% uptime customer guarantee, whilst remaining equally robust across their current heterogeneous storage environment.

Richard McMahon is the company's Infrastructure Manager responsible for all hardware and software deployments and services within the group. Twenty-five people operate from within iomart's five (5) state-of-the-art data centres located in London, Maidenhead, Glasgow, Nottingham and Leicester. All centres are linked via Dark Fibre or GigE connections. "Our 100% uptime guarantee is not a marketing ploy - it is iomart's motto and mantra. We live and breathe it to facilitate our customers' business models. Therefore total high availability is top of our priority list," he stated.

Recently, to help clients facilitate cloud computing, iomart launched a dedicated, virtualised server service, offering VMware dedicated servers capable of running multiple operating systems and applications from one physical server.

With these services in mind, the challenge that iomart faced was managing 30 terabytes (TBs) of storage across a heterogeneous environment in the City of London and Maidenhead data centres. To meet this objective, iomart approached DataCore, EMC, NetApp and 3PAR for proposed solutions. The suggested environment from DataCore involved using standard x86 hardware, highly specified due to their being of a hosting nature, each having 128GB RAM for caching, 4 Quad Core Processors and 8GB HBA's for connectivity. The disk that sat behind the server was classified as a low-end commodity disk. On top of this hardware, DataCore's SANsymphony solution was used in a mirrored SAN-SAN configuration to virtualise and manage the environment across a fibre link. In total, the solution was less than a one-third of the cost of the equivalent software and hardware alternative proposals.

Keith Joseph, Regional Manager, DataCore Software picks up the story: "Cost savings were not the most important factor in iomart's search. What they really wanted was to achieve total control of the environment and have the ability to migrate customer data between storage systems and disk types and to easily replicate to remote sites. This they found with DataCore's SANsymphony."

Mirrored high-availability between sites over 20 miles away also provides iomart with enhanced disaster recover (DR) capabilities. In their configuration, the environment is distributed throughout several locations and ensures that they have a fully distributed, HA model but across DR geographies.

DataCore's synchronous replication functionality operates on a forced cache coherency model, based on a grid architecture that replicates the I/O block between the cache on each DataCore server before sending the acknowledgement to the application server and committing the data to disk. This overcomes the problems associated with clustered storage while allowing iomart a greater degree of performance and flexibility.

Richard concludes, "What we have achieved with SANsymphony is totally flexible, highly performing SAN-to-SAN mirroring, but straight out of the box and backed by a decent price point. We can now move data 'at will' between vendors and seamlessly achieve LUN Virtualisation across RAID arrays. No other solution offers us this."

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