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North American Stainless Deploys DataCore Storage Virtualization Software with VMware for a Completely Virtual Infrastructure

DataCore Software, a leading provider of storage virtualization, business continuity and disaster recovery software solutions, today announced its SANmelody storage virtualization solution has been deployed along with VMware vSphere at one of the world’s premiere providers of stainless steel – North American Stainless in Ghent, Kentucky. The company’s IT department was trying to cope with an already increasing server spiral that encompassed ten (10) servers – all of which were over five years old. “We felt VMware would give us more options than simply adding more physical servers,” stated Judy Pieper-Young, Manager – Information Systems, North American Stainless. “Now with VMware combined with DataCore, we can simply add more virtual machines on-the-fly and it only costs us a new server license – instead of having to purchase a whole new physical box.”

A Virtual Infrastructure That Delivers Value as Promised

The IT landscape has gone a diet, so to speak, since the advent of virtualization at North American Stainless. Today, the company relies on four (4) physical servers and 35 virtual machines (VMs). The system supports 1,400 end-users.

“The appeal for us in going virtual in terms of servers was straightforward,” explained Pieper-Young. “Knowing that we were facing a situation where we were in need of adding even more servers – we chose to embrace virtualization so that we could actually reduce the number of physical servers. But we did not want to stop at servers. In order to achieve a completely virtual infrastructure, we selected DataCore along with VMware to serve as a total virtual infrastructure spanning both servers and storage.”

North American Stainless manufactures stainless steel 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. Therefore, beyond an initial desire to add more capacity by adding virtual storage to the mix was an overarching objective to have a disaster recovery plan in place. For disaster recovery, the company now has two SANmelody nodes that are mirrored so as to offer synchronous replication. “If for any reason we have a server crash, the virtual infrastructure enables us to get up and running within seconds,” noted Pieper-Young.

The two, redundant SANmelody SANs – that are mirrored – are connected to redundant switches that are in turn connected to four VMware ESX hosts to remove any single point of failure. Now North American Stainless has redundant, high-availability SANs that are synchronous – connected with a direct-attached fibre link. With this in place, the company can withstand a full hardware failure at a server level, at a switch level as well as a SAN level and still be up and running, in production. Other than a facility failure, North American Stainless now has 100% uptime.

The IT Landscape – Virtualization Powers Mission-Critical Applications

The virtual infrastructure powered by VMware and DataCore supports the company’s Oracle ERP system servers (including payroll), several SQL servers, Blackberry® server, fax servers, print servers as well as user data. The ability to add VMs “on-the-fly” was a primary objective in going virtual. This is made possible through the combination of VMware vSphere’s live migration functionality and the DataCore SAN. With VMware and DataCore run in tandem, the IT team at North American Stainless is able to do testing on applications and do so in way that the any testing procedures for new applications are segmented from the overall system. This is accomplished with DataCore SANmelody serving as a complete virtual storage infrastructure and storage management system – whereby multiple terabytes of storage can be both partitioned in units for a specific use as well as aggregated for general consumption.

Both SANmelody nodes are running on IBM 3650 servers as are the VMs on the two additional servers.

No Large Support Team Required

For 1,400 users that the IT staff is charged with supporting, the IT computer operations team consists only of a Network Analyst, an Operations Analyst, two Help Desk analysts, a Computer Operations Supervisor and an IT Manager. All of the maintenance and management required to support the virtual infrastructure is now done in one place – and that is through DataCore through SANmelody.

Trusted Solution Provider Software Information Systems (SIS)

“When we first engaged with North American Stainless, they had isolated, stand-alone servers with local storage on each server – and this was growing,” explained Pat Sigg, Regional Vice President of Sales at Software Information Systems (SIS), a DataCore partner. “What was needed was a storage sub-system with the flexibility and high-availability needed to support a virtual environment.”

SIS wanted to deploy VMware and was convinced that to get the most out of the virtual machines running on the virtual infrastructure that shared storage was needed as the underpinning for everything. SIS saw the implementation at North American Stainless as an integrated approach that was “all in” in terms of a fully virtual environment – servers and storage- for its customer.

“It was clear to us that the storage sub-system had to provide extra functionality and it was also clear that any of the hardware-based, fibre appliances were going to be well into six figures in price,” added Sigg. “This was not the path that we or the customer sought to take. Instead, what we found in DataCore’s portable, software-based, SANmelody SAN solution was that it offered all the functionality needed – including high availability and zero points of failure – all at reasonable cost. For the price point, what you get in functionality with DataCore convinced us and sold the customer.”

Virtualization Taking Off – Virtual Infrastructure Takes Hold in Other Departments

In North American Stainless’ Level II area, the manufacturer’s machinery is hooked to devices – such as product lifecycle management (PLM) and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) – that serve as IT systems which do nothing short of run the production at the plant. This department is also putting in an entirely virtual infrastructure as well – also encompassing both servers and storage. These truly mission-critical, manufacturing-centric, IT systems will now run on the VMware-DataCore virtual infrastructure too.

About North American Stainless

Founded in 1990, North American Stainless is fulfilling its promise to be the finest stainless steel producing mill in the Western Hemisphere. North American Stainless, part of the Acerinox Group of companies, is situated on 1100 acres in Carroll County, Kentucky. For more, visit www.northamericanstainless.com.

About Software Information Systems (SIS)

Celebrating 27 years of service to its 600+ clients across the Midwest, SIS has been providing cross platform information technology and IT solutions since 1982. SIS has created customizable packages to address their customers’ need for simple-to-use and flexible virtualization solutions. SIS currently has sales and technical services specialists holding over 100 certifications in solution areas such as server consolidation, server virtualization, high availability, SAN architecture as well as enterprise storage and backup strategy. Product offerings include IBM (Premier Business Partner), Microsoft (Gold Certified), Lotus, Citrix, VMware (VAC) and DataCore. For more information, visit http://www.thinksis.com.

About DataCore Software

DataCore Software, a leading provider of storage virtualization software solutions, fundamentally changes the economics of managing storage with innovative software that combines advanced functions and services with the agility and savings of hardware independence. DataCore lowers the cost and complexity of IT by making storage efficient, fast, flexible, fail-safe and virtual. For more information, call (877) 780-5111 or visit http://www.datacore.com.

DataCore, SANmelody and the DataCore logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of DataCore Software Corporation. Other DataCore product or service names or logos referenced herein are trademarks of DataCore Software Corporation. All other products, services and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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