Saddleback School District
Fourth largest school district in the country leverages SimpliVity’s Data Virtualization Platform to cut costs.
Located in South Orange County, CA, Saddleback Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) is the county’s fourth largest school district and includes 26 elementary schools, four intermediate schools, and four high schools. SVUSD provides a highly regarded educational program to approximately 31,000 students from its attendance area that encompasses over 95 square miles.
BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Technology Refresh, Data Protection, and Data Consolidation
Facing a 25 to 35 percent annual storage growth rate, SVUSD was constantly having to manage its 50TB iSCSI SAN (EMC Clarion CX220 & HP P2000 MSA) through costly annual expansion. Expansion that, according to Gartner, is detrimental to IT productivity everywhere: “Data growth continues to challenge IT operations. For example, a 35 percent growth rate per year requires a doubling of on-premises storage over a three-year period.”1 With 33,000 combined staff and students relying on the SVUSD IT infrastructure, storage was always in demand. In addition to the personnel, the school district had approximately 100 VMs managing a myriad of heavyweight, mission-critical applications such as collaboration software, Web servers, multiple SQL databases, and a massive, 3,000-user Microsoft Exchange Server.
In short, SVUSD was facing the same basic server and storage lifecycle challenges that most companies face today. Each year, Rich Dear, Systems Manager at SVUSD, had to expand the school district’s iSCSI SAN to accommodate application performance and user data growth. In addition, SVUSD’s server infrastructure was in need of an upgrade. “We were due for a server refresh as well as a storage refresh,” said Dear. “The blade server hardware we were running on was between five and six years old, and we were looking for additional storage.” To get off this endless server and storage lifecycle treadmill, the IT team knew that it was time to re-evaluate its IT systems.
In addition, the IT team was also looking to reduce its data center footprint along with the associated energy costs and management overhead. The SVUSD data center consisted of 20 Dell Blade Servers and two iSCSI storage systems that together consumed 38U of rack space. While the servers and storage allowed the team to run a 95 percent virtualized environment, they were incredibly costly to maintain. With the annual maintenance costs of software licensing for servers, SAN, and storage along with the power and cooling costs, SVUSD’s data center was becoming a financial burden on the school district. Furthermore, from an operational efficiency perspective within the dynamic visualized environment, the iSCSI SAN was not easy to manage with the large volume of tasks needed to be performed including adding, moving, tuning, and expanding LUNs.
Initially, when searching for a solution, Dear and his team considered new storage offerings from HP 3Par and Dell EqualLogic; however, after attending a SimpliVity seminar, they quickly shifted their focus to the hyperconverged, Data Virtualization Platform, OmniCube. “We saw the solution and it was perfectly in line with what we were looking to spend on storage,” said Dear. “In addition to storage, it provided the server refresh we were looking for—included in the cost.”
After determining that SimpliVity’s Data Virtualized Platform would meet and exceed the school district’s needs at a much lower cost than the alternative products, the IT team decided to implement the solution in its data center. Initially, the team started with a two-OmniCube federation in its data center; however, after working with the hyperconverged infrastructure for a few months, Dear decided to implement a third node. From there, the SVUSD IT team decided to implement 10GbE connections between OmniCubes to further streamline the data center. During the switch installation, Dear seamlessly moved workloads between the legacy infrastructure and the OmniCube Federation. The vast difference in performance was immediately apparent as the applications ran faster on OmniCube based on the unique data architecture that uniquely reduces IOPS via inline deduplication, compression, and optimization.
“We moved everything back to the old equipment so we could reconfigure our OmniCube federation to utilize a 10GbE switch,” said Dear. “After we did that, we saw performance dip—the servers and storage were much slower than they were on the OmniCube.”
In addition to performance improvements and savings on hardware, the SVUSD IT team was also impressed with OmniCube’s rapid backup functionality. “We did a test with a 20GB Web server VM and it restored in seconds,” said Dear. “It was very fast.” After seeing OmniCube’s powerful backup capability firsthand, Dear and his team are planning to use OmniCube for DR as well. By integrating inline deduplication, compression, and optimization when data is first created as well as including built-in, VM-centric data protection and mobility, OmniCube provides a hyperconverged infrastructure for global, distributed environments in which you can manage all enterprise data and virtual machines.
After moving to OmniCube, SVUSD has seen dramatic savings in both its physical data center and its virtual environment. Before OmniCube, the IT team was managing 20 expensive, resource-consuming Dell Blade Servers and two SANs. In switching to SimpliVity’s Data Virtualization Platform, the IT team has seen a 75 percent reduction in software licensing costs and has consolidated its hardware down from 20 Dell Blade servers to three 2U x86-based OmniCubes. By reducing the amount of hardware in the data center by a factor of over 6X, the school district has drastically reduced expenses and ensured future scalability.
In addition to massive savings within the data center, the team has seen a major uptick in server and storage performance. Through OmniCube’s sophisticated inline deduplication and compression that uniquely saves IOs, the SVUSD IT infrastructure is no longer overloaded on storage and the school district’s VMs are performing optimally within the environment. This boost in performance means no more time-consuming LUN management for Dear and his team—with OmniCube, they can rest easy.
Today, Dear and his team are enjoying OmniCube’s lightning-fast backup capabilities and, while they are still using Veeam and a 32TB ExaGrid system for offsite backup, they are considering adding an OmniCube to their off-campus DR site to complete the federation, and eliminate another costly software and storage expense and further improve operational efficiency.
Key benefits include:
- Improved backup and disaster recovery capabilities
- Reduced data center footprint and associated energy savings
- Inline data deduplication, compression, and optimization-saving IO
- Eliminated complex storage management and expensive annual upgrades
- Scalability: add resources in modular fashion enabling very large scalability in small increments
- Streamlined hyperconverged infrastructure
- Cost-effective, easy to use
1 Gartner, How to Calculate the Total Cost of Cloud Storage, 18 Oct. 2013, G00255331