Chatham Grammar solves data storage issues with low-cost San

Chatham Grammar School for Boys has implemented a low-cost storage area network to cope with the growing volume of data being created by pupils' course work.

Chatham Grammar School for Boys has implemented a low-cost storage area network to cope with the growing volume of data being created by pupils' course work.

Chatham Grammar School had faced storage problems for some time and had added new servers each year to cope with the extra demand, but the IT system was becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

It began to look for a storage networking technology that was cheap but that allowed it to expand capacity as and when it was needed without significant cost or disruption.

It chose a low-cost system called Simplesan from Insen, which centres on networked hard drives. The price of the storage network was a key factor in the school's choice - £1,500 per terabyte, compared with up to  £8,000 per terabyte for other Sans it looked at.

Simplesan features hard drives that are mirrored for redundancy, dual power supply units, dual ISCSI channels, Fibre Channel over IP support, and the ability to control up to seven of the 16 drive arrays.

In addition, the Simplesan storage controller can manage up to 120 disc drives. The controller is built on a dual Intel Xeon Platform with 2Gbytes of standard memory, which can be expanded.

Because of this, Simplesan can deliver 60Tbytes of space from a single controller, when filled with 120 500Gbyte Serial ATA drives.

Chatham Grammar School mirrors the main storage unit at another building over the IP Fibre Channel connection.

Michael Fielding, the school's network manager, said, "Insen installed a unit that supports up to 6.4Tbytes in its array. We only have 3.2Tbytes worth of discs in the unit at the moment, but if we need more we simply plug another in.

"It has changed the way we work. We had five servers all serving files to students and staff, and the data was becoming fragmented as we had some students on server 1 and some on server 2 etc. We now have two 'head' servers which control the sharing of the students and staff and these are in turn connected to the San.

"The school has recently migrated its Microsoft Exchange server database onto the San - a task that took just one hour and was completed with the minimum of fuss by Simplesan."

The school is now in talks with Insen about installing a hot-back-up unit, located in its second server room.

 

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