Backup Collaboration Mobile Security Storage Strategy Virtualisation

Up And Away

Article Type: Case study          Published: 03-2010         Views: 2139   



One of the UK's fastest growing managed services providers now has a high availability solution to help fulfil its 24x7 100% uptime customer guarantee .

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

The result is that iomart is now using DataCore's SANsymphony solution to provide the high-availability backbone for iomart's hosted customers. Twenty-five people operate from within iomart's five 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," states Richard McMahon, the company's infrastructure manager, who has responsibility for all hardware and software deployments and services within the group.

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 30TB of storage across a heterogeneous environment in the City of London and Maidenhead data centres.

To meet this objective, iomart approached various vendors for their 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. Keith Joseph, regional manager, DataCore Software, takes 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.

iomart's Richard McMahon concludes as follows: "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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