DataCore’s Storage Virtualization Software Provides the Right Prescription for All Medical Personnel – Protecting Critical Business Applications and Enhancing VMware and Citrix Productivity
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., April 30 – DataCore Software today announced that South Florida-based All Medical Personnel has realized results beyond initial expectations from their decision to adopt DataCore’s SANmelody software to solve the company’s storage-related problems. With SANmelody, the IT team at All Medical is now optimizing disk space utilization, accelerating disk I/O performance, and eliminating business disruptions and administrative overhead when allocating, migrating and upgrading disks. The simplicity of managing virtual storage and the automated provisioning of disk space have considerably reduced administrator burdens and have greatly sped up the response time to change requests by significantly shortening the time to add disk space, restore failed servers or disks and task new ones. Above all, the DataCore virtualization software has enabled a new level of fault tolerance for All Medical Personnel applications and systems – resulting in a major advance in keeping their business up and running, regardless of the disruptive impacts from the weather or other natural disasters.
It was clear to the IT staff at All Medical that it needed a new solution for disaster recovery and greater flexibility to handle growth. Therefore, they decided to deploy a virtual environment in order to have data managed in co-locations. “If the corporate office went down, while the rest of the offices throughout the country were functional they were crippled in some applications. So we chose to move everything to a secure data center that would not be affected by natural disaster or a scenario such as a power outage, etc.,” said Karen Swanson, IT Director, All Medical Personnel. “DataCore now safeguards our data and makes storage management simple.”
With its corporate headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, All Medical Personnel is a nationwide staffing company that has offices throughout the country; however, all of the company’s data is managed at the corporate headquarters using a Citrix environment. In terms of data management and availability, the company’s biggest challenge came during the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 when it, like most companies in the area, got slammed by hurricanes.
Total Enterprise Virtualization – Citrix Desktops, VMware VMs, DataCore Storage
All Medical knew that virtualization would provide a new level of flexibility for them in terms of servers (VMware) and access (Citrix), but how could they do the same thing for storage especially when they needed to further safeguard their data? Moreover, they wanted to improve their storage utilization across all their systems, simplify administration and add disaster recovery capabilities within a limited budget. SANmelody was the solution. It became the backbone storage infrastructure that enabled the system administrators at All Medical Personnel to easily maintain their storage area network (SAN). SANmelody was purchased to support the company’s decision to modernize and protect their critical applications.
“We work closely with our clients to understand their business needs and match them to the right technology,” explained James Price, Chief Executive Officer, Fairway Consulting Group, Inc. “Working with Karen at All Medical Personnel, we recommended DataCore Software’s SANmelody product as a best fit solution. All Medical was in a unique position of re-architecting their infrastructure and SANmelody offered them the best price/performance combination and an extensible storage platform to match their VMware-based virtual infrastructure. DataCore’s SANmelody virtual storage, coupled with VMware virtual machines and Citrix application virtualization, gives All Medical Personnel not just a virtual infrastructure but a utility-based enterprise in which storage, servers and applications are delivered to their business where they are needed in real-time.”
The resulting virtualization environment at All Medical includes Citrix access, VMware virtual machines and DataCore. Acting as a disk server that enables virtualized storage and manages that storage, SANmelody enables the IT staff to do other things instead of just constantly maintaining the SAN. The product’s interface is Windows-friendly, making it very intuitive and simple to learn for IT administrators. SANmelody was deployed at All Medical Personnel in the summer of 2006. The storage virtualization solution has added a new level of resiliency to the infrastructure at the company, making the entire IT environment much more tolerant against interruptions and power outages.
“We talked to EMC and a couple of the other major storage providers,” noted Swanson. “We chose DataCore primarily for the flexibility and the obvious fit with VMware. SANmelody works great with VMware and it eliminates the issue of being tied into a hardware environment. Moreover, the DataCore solution supports a range of disaster recovery options and it opened up our ability to use iSCSI and/or Fibre Channel. We could mix and match any connectivity in one software solution.”
“This is our core system,” Swanson explained. “This is what we work on everyday and we are very dependent on it to run our business.” According to Swanson, the beautiful thing about SANmelody is that you can just ignore it. “It works,” she commented. “We keep an eye on it. We do some maintenance on it. But for the most part, it is very stable, very robust and we do not spend a whole lot of time on it – which is what you want.”
All Medical has six or seven virtual machines running on any one piece of hardware. Without SANmelody, the IT team at All Medical would be forced to buy more hard drives and constantly adjust the configurations. “SANmelody is now the interface between the virtual machines (VMs) and the storage units,” explained Swanson. While VMware can exist without a SAN, Swanson described that All Medical’s transition to VMware included the adoption of a SAN solution. However, a SAN is just a hardware network. With DataCore, the SAN was transformed into a flexible infrastructure that made it easy to manage and automate storage tasks while providing the highest levels of data protection. In addition, a SAN is required to support certain functionality inherent to real world VMware deployments, like VMotion.
With VMotion, administrators can move – in real time – production servers over to a different hardware platform. “And it is invisible to users,” stated Swanson. “That to me is a great capability because if I have hardware failings, the ability to move the servers over quickly is priceless. SANmelody does the same thing at the storage level. It virtualizes and lets you easily move the data storage, all the while keeping it in sync and served back to the appropriate VMware machine without manual intervention. All the elements are virtual – our servers and our storage. It really is a match made in heaven.”
On top of solving the afore-mentioned storage-related problems, SANmelody has delivered peace of mind to executive management. Weather-related disruptions in South Florida no longer have the same impact on the rest of the company. The ultimate business objective that has been met for Swanson and her team is continuity. “We are not an IT company,” said Swanson. “We are a staffing company that operates in the healthcare field. We need to be able to get our business done 24×7. To do so, we have to have a solution that is available 24×7 and that is robust enough to be always working, no matter what.”
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