Oz city council implements virtual SAN

Storage virtualisation followed server virtualisation. By Sandra Rossi

Melbourne's Kingston City Council has virtualised its storage environment with high-availability data protection and offsite data recovery which integrates seamlessly with its VMWare server environment.

Not long ago, the council had just deployed VMWare, completed a consolidation project, centralised management and was enjoying the benefits of hardware independence for its servers.

However, it wanted to build the same functionality into its storage environment.

The council's IT infrastructure manager, Kevin Chan, says the strategy was to implement a robust and secure storage environment in the datacentre that could be extended to its DR site for replication.

Chan says DataCore's virtual SAN solution, SANmelody, allowed the council to build an active cluster in production, ensuring maximum uptime.

"It was almost identical to what we achieved by implementing VMWare ESX for our server infrastructure; the design, proof of concept and deployment was done with minimal downtime to our operation," he says.

Hewlett Packard, EMC, Hitachi and their partners all responded to the tender but Chan says by selecting DataCore, the council was able to expand on existing storage investments while still having access to cost-effective storage arrays and disk technologies such as server-attached storage (SAS).

"We looked at price, meeting regulatory requirements, and implementing the most flexible technology," he says.

"The ultimate aim was to make disaster recovery (DR) truly the last point of reliance. To do this, we selected a design based on a high-availability, mirrored SAN in production replicated to a DR SAN.

"The effective nature of this design is that if one of the SANs fails in production, it automatically switches to the mirror and restores once the service is available again; lag-time between the mirrors is at a minimum to ensure the most current version of data is available."

Chan says DR was simplified by using asynchronous mirroring and the ability to utilise any underlying storage arrays provided the flexibility to use lower-cost storage when building the DR solution. Kingston City Council administers essential government services to thousands of residents and businesses, with services ranging from local law enforcement to rate collection and business registration. This means the IT environment has to adhere to stringent service level agreements.

"We had numerous servers with directly attached storage, making administration and the sharing of storage across systems difficult at best," Chan says.

"In addition, the integration of different businesses to help support delivery of core services had further complicated the environment," he says.

DataCore Australia technical sales director David Bull says that often, a "big box" solution isn't a solution at all.

"It is a very simplistic approach that does not take into account future needs and the role of storage and data protection within the bigger picture. It is also a very expensive option, one that normally costs over A$100,000 (NZ$117,500)," Bull says.

"Big box solutions often consume so much of the budget that critical requirements are left unmet until the customer can afford to buy yet another expensive box to fill the gap left by the last one", he says.

"It becomes a vicious cycle as each wears out over time. On the other hand, DataCore fulfills the full range of storage requirements, such as storage management, high-availability and disaster recovery, with hardware independent software that runs on any standard Intel or an AMD based system," he claims.

"When systems need to be upgraded or expanded, the investment in software is preserved; only the hardware changes. The customer is free to choose physical storage solely on the basis of storage characteristics desired and its budget."

Integrator Lincom Solutions assisted Kingston with its SAN infrastructure project and the company's senior business manager, Anand Karan, says the council needed to go beyond storage to secure and protect its data environment.

"We see storage technology moving in the same rapid manner as server technology. Proprietary solutions will not only become too expensive, [they] often have no inherent flexibility to utilise the best technologies available," Karan says.

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Tags managementDatacorekingston city councilvirtual san

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