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Mole Valley District Council Grows Virtualised Estate with Adapto and DataCore

Mole Valley District Council achieves total resilience for critical applications and data through DataCore’s software defined storage.

DataCore’s SANsymphony-V software platform provides the robust infrastructure that spans a 5 year virtualised journey, bringing enduring cost savings, performance boosts and resilience to District Council’s 50 essential applications.

Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) have been reliably using their DataCore SANsymphony-V solution for the past five years, ensuring throughout that MVDC’s 300 internal council customers retain full access to an optimal infrastructure, applications and IT services, in order to fulfil their busy roles from within the Dorking based IT Department. MVDC’s IT Service Design Manager, Saeed Foroughi, comments reflectively on the benefits of achieving such an enduring foundation: “We support over 50 essential applications across the various parts of the Council, most of which are deemed critical to successful civic operations. With such a number of departmental applications, performance and resiliency cannot be compromised. Failover, when it has occurred, remains seamless and automatic, with the other side of the mirror resuming the primary load and no disruption to services.” The process is so seamless that frequently Mole Valley only notice that it has happened when a visual inspection highlights that the transition has occurred. That’s software defined working at its best.

MVDC today operates in a virtualised server and storage environment, having gone through the consolidation journey from physical to virtual five years ago, with the assistance and advice of trusted DataCore certified partner, Adapto. Back then, the landscape looked somewhat different, with over 90 physical servers running alongside HP direct attached storage with frequent hardware refreshes required. Today, the consolidated server rooms hold just 30 physical servers alongside 100 VMs running VMware ESX server virtualisation platform with DataCore’s SANsymphony-V software defined storage platform robustly supporting the virtual landscape, in a synchronously mirrored configuration across 2 nodes providing non-disruptive and automated failover and failback operations in a high availability configuration, with a third asynchronous offsite replication location for Disaster Recovery.

“We have enjoyed a longstanding relationship with DataCore that spans across many years, way before Software Defined Storage became a mainstream term; after we realised that the clever part of storage emanates almost entirely from the software layer. The primary reasons that we selected SANsymphony-V haven’t really changed from what we experience today – to ultimately decrease cost and increase scalability and reliability. Adoption of DataCore’s SDS platform has certainly kept us away from costly hardware refreshes and endless cycles of appliance purchasing and today we have complete freedom of choice as to which disks and storage we provision, so we select storage that is entirely suited to task and not to incumbent brand.”

Running on a pair of rack mounted HP ProLiant DL 380 servers with Windows Server 2008 R2, Mole Valley’s core 25TB of data remains fully protected, assured, and highly performant. For speed of processing of applications and data reporting, SANsymphony-V continues to enhance the internal user experience by using RAM-based caching to overcome I/O bottlenecks to help applications to run faster.

When Mole Valley requires additional performance, the organisation can either add more RAM to the storage virtualisation servers, add additional servers, or gain performance through the integration of flash storage to the storage pool by adding cost-effective SSD cards. With DataCore’s auto-tiering technology, a real-time intelligent mechanism that continuously positions data on the appropriate class of storage based on how frequently the data is accessed, the most intensive applications are processed by the fastest available storage, further improving response times and optimising the efficient usage of available storage resources. The result is superior application performance and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) across the entire storage architecture.

Other resource gains have been made using the power of DataCore’s SANsymphony-V to help the ICT Department make savvy procurement decisions on forward disk purchases through the creation of storage pools that maximise disk usage. All disk are allocated as virtual disks, but when there are demand spikes, spare disk is reassigned from the pool, so over provisioning has become an issue of the past. The inbuilt monitoring of the platform identifies storage usage and allows mapping to document the most appropriate levels of storage to be apportioned.

With Mole Valley’s gruelling Box Hill featuring heavily in the recent London Olympics, a watertight Disaster Recovery plan needed to be fully operational with the TV cameras of the world upon the area. To achieve this after successful storage virtualisation adoption, Mole Valley adopted a collaborative Disaster Recovery plan with a neighbouring council to allow a third DataCore node to be housed over 15 miles away in a neighbouring town, asynchronously replicating data across the existing UNICORN network that links all Local Authorities across Surrey. Bob Thomas, Head of ICT, Mole Valley District Council explains. “It made sense and brings total peace of mind to work with reciprocal agreements with neighbouring authorities. It alleviates the need to procure commercial space outside of the Mole Valley vicinity successfully replicating data asynchronously through a third DataCore node for DR purposes.”

The closing words go to Saeed. “Given we have been running DataCore’s software defined storage platform now for five years under Adapto’s advice, we are well placed to comment with authority that DataCore fulfils our needs. It represents much more than high availability; SDS is now the foundation for the supply and optimisation of all our critical applications.”

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