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Cloud provider snubs SAN for StorPool hyper-converged infrastructure

Coreix found costly SAN capex outlays too onerous so opted to build its own hyper-converged infrastructure from StorPool storage software and SuperMicro x86 servers

London-based managed services provider Coreix has opted for StorPool software-defined storage in preference to SAN storage. The company has built hyper-converged infrastructure instead, using SuperMicro x86 boxes as a server and storage platform.

The move allowed Coreix to avoid a large capital outlay on SAN storage and instead scale up from a few servers.

Coreix provides hosting, managed services, private and hybrid cloud, servers and colocation from its London datacentres to about 600 clients using some 1,500 physical servers plus Dell and EMC storage arrays.

It was reluctant to spend a lot of money for large SAN arrays that don’t last forever.

The company wanted to build a public cloud offering to provide enterprise-class applications to customers, but its initial efforts using CloudStack as a platform were frustrated by Dell iSCSI SAN storage that struggled to perform adequately, said Paul Davies, technical director at Coreix.

“We had issues of IOPS and resiliency, and the SANs were generally over-contested. A SAN can be extremely resilient, but to get the IOPS you need to spend £250,000,” he said.

Coreix looked around for new products to support the offering. “We didn’t want to spend on a chassis that could take 1PB from day one. SANs involve a lot of capex [capital expenditure]; it’s cost-prohibitive for us. We needed a model where we could scale,” said Davies.

Coreix deployed a hyper-converged architecture based on 10 SuperMicro servers with four KVM virtual machine hypervisors and Storpool storage, and using OnApp’s cloud orchestration platform. Total storage capacity is around 20TB using 600GB flash drives.

Read more about hyper-converged infrastructure

Storpool offers software-defined storage that can pool storage from commodity servers – it specifies recommended server components such as CPU, RAM and network card – with Sata drives (HDD or flash) to provide performance of up to 100,000 IOPS per node.

It can provide hyper-converged infrastructure by utilising resources to offer server and storage capacity in the same box.

For Coreix, the advantage of building systems in-house from commodity hardware is the ability to scale from a few instances of server and storage hardware without having to spend on a big-ticket SAN.

“It’s about cost-efficiency and flexibility and not being tied to one vendor,” said Davies. “We can put our own CPUs in and add storage. We can buy as we grow and don’t have to buy a big chassis to start with. With a SAN you always get caught on something. It’s just more cost-efficient to do it this way.”

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