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Icelandic security business, Security Center of Iceland, has deployed StorMagic SvSAN software-defined storage on Dell server hardware in a hybrid flash storage configuration, in a move that saw it ditch existing EMC SAN arrays and reap 3x to 4x performance improvements.
The organisation – which has 400 employees – previously used an EMC VNXe iSCSI SAN for its virtual machines (VMs) in an environment which is now 80% virtualised. Core applications are its central monitoring systems, sector-specific security systems such as for banking and healthcare, its telephone system and Microsoft Dynamics NAV enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
The plan is to virtualise as much as possible, with only the CCTV system set to remain on physical servers.
So, what became of the existing EMC hardware? “We turned it off and threw it in the bin,” said IT manager Asgeir Vidarsson.
What were the reasons for the demise of the VNX? “I severely disliked being made to buy expensive hard drives from EMC,” said Vidarsson. “It wasn’t exactly a pain to manage but it was a separate environment. It was an old system and was connected via 1Gbps Ethernet, so it wasn’t fast either.”
Vidarsson said he had been interested in replacing it with a flash array from a company such as Nimble Storage and had also had his interest piqued by VMware’s Virtual SAN, which aggregates hard drives on servers into a SAN-like pool through software-defined storage.
“It made sense,” said Vidarsson. “It’s simple and it’s flexible, instead of having a separate storage environment. By most standards, we’re an SME [small to medium-sized enterprise]. Enterprise-class solutions don’t make sense for us.”
StorMagic’s SvSAN is deployed on two Dell Poweredge servers as primary storage, with a single box as a disaster recovery mirror.
Read more about software-defined storage
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Each server has around 30TB of capacity, of which about 12TB is on flash drives, the rest 10,000rpm spinning disk HDDs. Storage networking for iSCSI is 10Gbps Ethernet.
For Vidarsson, the benefits of StorMagic are that it is simple to use and took very little time to deploy. “The ‘it just works’ factor is very high,” he said.
Quantified benefits include a 40% to 70% improvement in ERP and structured query language (SQL) processing performance, with a 3x to 4x increase in input/output per second (IOPS).