Bradford Grammar School switches to DataCore’s Software-Defined Storage

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New infrastructure from DataCore’s SANsymphony-V™ solution provides ongoing assurance, reliability, improved performance and renewed confidence in virtualised environment.

DataCore Software, a leader in Software-Defined Storage, have announced that Bradford Grammar School – (one of the North of England’s leading co-educational independent schools and early adopters of both server and storage virtualisation some 12 years ago) – have made massive gains in creating a highly available, highly performant infrastructure for their 1200+ staff and students through adoption of DataCore’s SANsymphony-V platform. Their journey towards this optimal virtualised state has been long and arduous, with the schools’ Network Manager, Simon Thompson, detailing the course:

“We started off using an appliance creating a NetWare cluster on VMware, but as we needed more capacity, the pricing model was becoming prohibitive, so we moved toward a Virtual SAN solution provided by a well known competitor to DataCore to provide an alternate software-defined storage platform. For two years the solution served us well, right up until the emergence of a compulsory upgrade.”

At this point, the virtual journey faltered and took on an altogether more challenging and consuming route for Simon and his team, as matters started to deteriorate behind the scenes at the 350 year old school. The upgrade itself should have been seamless, but instead took five hours before grinding to a halt. Simon quickly discovered that the same fault happened every time the system was re-started, accompanied by data corruption. The impact for the supporting school infrastructure, including access to the finance and accounting systems, all applications, and pupils’ coursework, could have been devastating. For three days, the school struggled to stem the issues leaning on the vendor’s US-based technical support centre for answers:

“It’s only when things go disastrously wrong that you turn to Technical Support to save the day. Internally we were able to decipher that the problem was stemming from provisioning storage and caching through the Virtual Machines (VMs) through the vendor’s Log-Structured File System.”

DataCore Software’s SANsymphony-V solution, “Difference between night and day”:

Over the next 12 months no fixes materialised that would solve the school’s issues which were complex and the impact far reaching prohibiting replication of data from the main campus to the secondary site 200m away. A long awaited patch did materialise, but it also performed poorly and once again, the school was unable to replicate data. As soon as an I/O power hungry application such as an SQL database was added, the system would fail over, meaning that data stores would show- as corrupt or non-existent. The 98 VMs, remote desktops and 6 hosts were completely floored by the new install. Knowing this problem was far greater than could be solved by a further patch, Simon consulted C-Ways as their trusted independent advisors for their advice, who recommended that they look upwards to the next class of software defined storage, DataCore Software’s SANsymphony-V solution complete with High Availability and synchronous mirroring. C-Ways advised this would protect data from any single point of failure. Two DataCore nodes were seamlessly placed on two existing Dell Blade servers and the switch-on began.

“The install of SANsymphony-V has literally been the difference between night and day.” Simon recollects: “We had been limping along with a single SAN, so it was a pleasure to be able to turn everything on at once and see it powering through. Applications, software performance, database performance, opening files, saving files and replication - it all worked, and at speed. We haven’t looked back.”

Benefits – “With DataCore, the install has been a breath of fresh air”

Whilst the ability to turn everything on at once may be the expected norm, when you have experienced major issues within your virtual environment, advances are all the more noteworthy. The backup window has decreased significantly as throughput to Veeam’s backup has increased dramatically. (With the monthly full backup, throughput has doubled). Even internet access performs better with significant increases in throughput from the serving VM. Critically, given their former journey, within the first six months of usage, Bradford Grammar are pleased to report that they have not experienced any downtime. Disaster Recovery is now assured, with replication occurring to an offsite hosted node.

For random writes, one of the areas that caused significant issues in the former environment, DataCore’s Random Write Accelerator feature now effectively takes these highly random workloads and sequentialises them to achieve greater performance - coalescing the writes to reduce the number of I/Os to the back-end storage. Auto-tiering optimises performance further still, automatically allocating appropriate data sets to appropriate class of storage (the school is running both SSDs and disk) based on how frequently the data is accessed.

Simon attributes such resolution in a relatively short timeframe to three factors; the fail-safe product; the tenacity of the IT department; and to the ongoing supporting role of the partner, C-Ways, who throughout the journey, suggested alternatives and offered independent advice when vendor advice was lacking. The environment is now so optimised and offering such a degree of flex for the future, that the IT department have now completed their five year infrastructure upgrade plan a year early. Simon concludes:

“We are now thrilled with our optimised and highly available virtual environment. You simply get what you pay for in life. With DataCore, the install has been a breath of fresh air and I’m very confident in its ability to protect and optimise us for years to come.”

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About DataCore
DataCore is the leading provider of Software-Defined Storage and Adaptive, Parallel I/O Software – harnessing today’s powerful and cost-efficient server platforms to solve the IT industry’s biggest storage problem, the I/O bottleneck. The company’s comprehensive and flexible storage virtualization and hyper-converged virtual SAN solutions free users from the pain of labor-intensive storage management and provide customers true independence from storage solution vendors that cannot offer a hardware agnostic architecture. DataCore's Software-Defined Storage platforms revolutionize storage infrastructure and serve as the cornerstone of the next-generation, software-defined data center – delivering greater value, performance, availability, and simplicity. Visit or call (877) 780-5111 for more information.


DataCore, the DataCore logo and SANsymphony 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.

For media & PR inquiries:
Sharon Munday
KPR Global
0778 7566382

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