Views
11 months ago

ST1711

CASE STUDY: CASE STUDY:

CASE STUDY: CASE STUDY: UNALASKA CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT COLD STORAGE DESPITE A NOTORIOUSLY INACCESSIBLE LOCATION, UNALASKA'S CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT IS ENJOYING A NEARLY INSTANTANEOUSLY RECOVERABLE STORAGE INFRASTRUCTURE THANKS TO ONEBLOX FROM STORAGECRAFT Infrastructure simplification is a concept popping up very often lately with IT managers across all kinds of organisations. But it's nothing new for small, and budget constrained IT shops that have always looked at ways of keeping their infrastructure simple, very manageable and highly serviceable. Unalaska City School District (UCSD) is no exception; in fact, its needs are even more constrained due to its particular position on the map. Located on the Aleutian Chain, approximately 800 air miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, Unalaska is home to 4,000 permanent residents and boasts the U.S's most productive commercial fishing port of Dutch Harbor, which is also wellknown as the home of successful TV show "The Deadliest Catch". Accessible only by airplane or boat, there are no roads to Unalaska. The deep water and ice-free International Port of Dutch Harbor serves cargo ships and large container vessels throughout the year, making this port one of the busiest transportation hubs in the North Pacific. In this remote location, approximately 400 students are educated from preschool through to the 12th grade by the Unalaska City School District. These students are supported by approximately 70 teachers and staff members. Brent Bain, the Sr. Technology Coordinator for the entire school district, is also its sole IT staff member, supporting over 550 computers spread out between the Elementary and Secondary schools. StorageCraft is helping Unalaska City School District to avoid complexity while greatly improving the storage infrastructure and related services to students and teachers thanks to simplicity, reliability, serviceability and manageability of StorageCraft OneBlox and OneSystem. UNUSUAL CHALLENGES Such a peculiar IT environment has very interesting needs. UCSD has all of the characteristics of a low budget IT shop yet at the same time, it needs highly reliable and easy to manage storage infrastructure. When Brent Bain started his activity as Sr. Technology Coordinator at UCSD, he was faced with a very difficult situation. The infrastructure was obsolete and the school district's budget was very tight. Every single spending decision is undertaken very carefully. UCSD found that the majority of production servers were file servers and a major pain point was the backup infrastructure was still using tape. But, instead of looking to add (and ^ 26 STORAGE Nov/Dec 2017 @STMagAndAwards www.storagemagazine.co.uk MAGAZINE

CASE STUDY: CASE STUDY: UNALASKA CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT maintain) other new servers, they chose to explore the market for a more manageable storage solution. "Legacy NAS and SAN solutions are too complex and expensive, especially as I look at our future growth requirements," explains Bain. Additionally, UCSD being situated in a very remote area made it virtually impossible, and very expensive, to obtain spare parts or technical on-site support within a reasonable timeframe. At the same time, most of the traditional vendors have very strict rules on the type and the number of disks you can put in your system (at one time) which also presents a big problem for the potential longevity of the storage system. The list of requirements doesn't stop here though. UCSD wanted strong Active Directory compatibility, and scalability to support the unpredictable growth of a newly instituted "save-everything" policy. This new policy will not only impact the primary storage capacity, but also its Symantec Backup Exec infrastructure. FREEDOM OF CHOICE StorageCraft OneBlox was selected by UCSD due to its modern scale-out architecture, innovative data protection features, and affordability. Moreover, OneBlox enables UCSD to have complete freedom of choice when it comes to serviceability and storage capacity expansion of the system. Support for all Microsoft file sharing protocols (SMB 2.0, 2.1, and 3.0) and Active Directory are at the heart of a strong integration with Windows servers and clients, enabling a seamless consolidation process. Consolidation is made possible through the efficiency of inline deduplication and continuous data protection, which helps save more data more securely in a single system. Thanks to this characteristic it has been possible to implement a newly simplified backup strategy that no longer involves tapes. Now the Backup Exec server writes directly to OneBlox and then is replicated to another OneBlox at another school on the island. OneBlox, with its ability to use off-the-shelf hard drives and mix them in various sizes in the same Ring, enables the UCSD to buy commodity hard disks anywhere, at the best price - without the constraints or limitations usually found with other legacy storage vendors. This feature is also helpful when it comes to replacing failed disks in a remote location like Unalaska. RESTORED IN MINUTES UCSD has already consolidated 5 file servers, supporting different workloads and up to 250 concurrent active users during working hours. At the same time, the efficiency and scalability of OneBlox allows UCSD to adopt the new save-everything strategy while providing far improved service to both students and teachers. In fact, now teachers and staff do not spend any time trying to delete information to free up storage capacity. Before they were spending about one day a month managing storage, now they are able to focus on education. Moreover, thanks to the snapshot-based Continuous Data Protection functionality available on OneBlox, students can now autonomously retrieve any lost files from snapshots in minutes, instead of hours. Numerous times restore requests have been submitted as the students are on the way to class and Brent has been able to recover the file before class begins. UCSD also leverages OneBlox's remote replication to have a copy of information off campus, and with the new disk-based backup strategy, instead of tapes, much safer, more reliable, and faster restores. UCSD has plans to extend the remote replication to various schools in the same district to improve backup and local disaster recovery procedures. Storage management, based on the OneSystem cloud platform, is another step towards simplification because OneBlox doesn't need a local console installed on a separate server. It sends all health and configuration information to a cloud service which is always accessible via a web browser. The cloud-based management delivers ease of use and reliability of the system resulting in very few administration tasks which are also easy to perform. In fact many operations require zero configuration, such as adding storage capacity. VIRTUALLY FUTURE-PROOF The next step in the consolidation process will be server virtualisation. In fact, OneBlox will soon be adopted to store Virtual Machine data, enabling even more savings and better data protection. UCSD needed a new cost effective storage solution with the goal of simplifying and consolidating its IT infrastructure. Thanks to StorageCraft it was made possible and UCSD has also enhanced the overall quality of service, decreased recovery times, and improved the overall TCO of the entire infrastructure. Moreover, the promise of further consolidation for VM data storage will give UCSD additional opportunities to improve TCO, consolidation, and availability of the infrastructure. The advanced data protection capabilities of OneBlox's object-based architecture enable UCSD to buy commercial off-the-shelf commodity hard drives and become freely independent to acquire replacements or upgrades. This makes the solution much more serviceable over time and much more durable when compared to traditional vendors over the long term. Brent Bain concludes: "The amount of time I've had to spend managing storage has been cut in half, because it just works!" For an IT department where file services are among the most critical applications delivered to the school, it's clear that Unalaska City School District has achieved its objective and has found an enterprise-class solution. More info: www.storagecraft.com/oneblox www.storagemagazine.co.uk @STMagAndAwards Nov/Dec 2017 ^ STORAGE MAGAZINE 27