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Overland Storage Makes HA for Storage a Snap for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V Environments

Mid-sized enterprises (MSEs) are leading the charge in corporate Green IT initiatives with server virtualization and storage consolidation but, as they do, are discovering a new need for high availability (HA). Yet MSEs have neither the time nor the staff to deploy and manage complex HA solutions, especially as it pertains to storage. This is why solutions such as the Overland Storage SnapServer SAN S2000 that automate and centralize the implementation and ongoing management of HA storage configurations are becoming critical to the success of these Green IT initiatives.

The focus of a 2009 report, Green IT: Why Mid-size Companies are Investing Now, put out by the Info-Tech Research Group examined the impact and adoption rates of 11 Green IT initiatives in mid-sized organizations around the world.  Among the 1047 IT and business group professionals and decision-makers it contacted in organizations with 100 – 1000 employees, it found:

  • 25% of those surveyed already had already implemented some form of server virtualization or storage consolidation
  • 50% planned to proceed with one of both these initiatives in the coming 12 months
  • Over 70% of the implementations decreased future investment needed for storage and server devices while at the same time increasing storage and computing utilization

These types of results are motivating mid-sized enterprises to deploy server virtualization and storage consolidation but these solutions still have their issues.  Dan Kuznetsky, VP of Research Operations at The 451 Group, says, “The more you think about it – the more workloads that you stack on a single machine – when something does go wrong, the more pain an organization is going to feel because all of those applications dropped on the floor.

This is making HA for these environments a prerequisite but centralizing HA for both virtual servers and storage is not as simple as it sounds. While both VMware vSphere and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V include a live migration feature that facilitates the live failover of virtual machines (VMs) from one physical machine to another, managing HA for storage systems from the same console is a rarity.

It is this HA challenge in storage environments that the Overland Storage SnapServer SAN S2000 addresses as it offers plug-ins for both the VMware and Microsoft Windows 2008 platforms. Using these plug-ins, storage on the SnapServer SAN S2000 may be discovered and managed by vCenter Server in VMware environments or Server Manager in Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 environments.  In this manner VMware and/or Windows administrators can use familiar central consoles to manage both their server and storage environments.

However the real power of the Overland Storage plug-ins is that they go beyond simply providing a common management console for both servers and storage. They also include wizards that automate the setup of HA across SnapServer SAN S2000s.

Take VMware for example. When setting up HA on storage systems without these plug-ins administrators have to:

  • Open up the management console associated with each storage system
  • Create a LUN on each of them
  • Decide on the RAID configuration of each LUN
  • Set up the mirror between the two LUNs
  • Assign each LUN the necessary security permissions so the ESX servers can access them via iSCSI.

Once those storage-related tasks are done, they still have to go into the vCenter Server console to enable the ESX server to access the individual LUNs on each storage system and then assign the correct data store to the VM.

New wizards included within the Overland Storage VMware plug-in that is freely available (as is the Microsoft plug-in) with every SnapServer SAN S2000 do much of this work as they eliminate the need for multiple management interfaces. Administrators may now just go to a tab within vCenter that displays one (or more) SnapServer SAN S2000s so they can:

  • Create a LUN on each SnapServer SAN S2000
  • Mirror the LUNs between the two SnapServer SAN S2000s
  • Present the LUN on each SAN S2000 to the ESX Servers
  • Create the VMware data store for the VM on each ESX Server.

Now in just a few screens from a central management console an administrator can go through the entire process of setting up an HA configuration for either a server (Live Migration) or storage (mirrored LUNs) perspective. Even if there was only one VMware ESX server with no redundancy, administrators can still mirror the LUN between the two SAN S2000s so the application can be configured for HA from a storage perspective.

MSEs see the value of Green IT as is being reflected by their adoption of server virtualization and storage consolidation but they also see its risk, the greatest of which may now be how their operations can grind to a halt should server or storage hardware fail.  While simplified HA solutions for server virtualization operating systems like VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V have been available for a while, a gap for simplified HA still exists on the storage side.

It is this gap the Overland Storage with its new VMware and Microsoft plug-ins helps to close. Now administrators may easily setup and administer HA for their VMs as well as their SnapServer SAN S2000s to which these VMs are attached from a central console. In so doing, MSEs gain the benefits of server virtualization and storage consolidation and the added security of HA for both their servers and storage without experiencing the complexity and overhead that HA can introduce.


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