WIŚNIOWSKI Company is a modern manufacturing enterprise that must react rapidly to constantly changing customer needs. To assure agility in a competitive market, the company has implemented a fully-computerized large-scale manufacturing process for its products, which include high-quality garage and industrial doors, fence systems and aluminum joinery. Uninterrupted access to manufacturing data is key to the company's continued success
Six administrators in WIŚNIOWSKI Company's IT Department oversee the entire network infrastructure, the data center, and over 330 workstations. Efficient IT operations are critical, since all manufacturing processes are digital and the flow of data from the central database drives all operations. Not only are these administrators responsible for day-to-day operations, but they must be able to respond quickly to any failure of the company's computers, storage, servers, and network infrastructure.
"We have to ensure the highest level of safeguards and uninterrupted availability of the data for our core production systems, which are stored within disk arrays located in the main data center," says Tomasz Kosecki, manager of the IT Department at WIŚNIOWSKI Company. "We cannot afford downtime or data disruptions that impact daily production; relying on a backup copy made the previous night is not a practical option.
High Availability and High Performance with DataCore
The company enlisted the help of Quad Pro, a solution provider in Krakow, to investigate storage virtualization solutions to improve data reliability and availability. "We wanted to avoid downtime in case of failure of a single disk array as well as significantly improve our ability to deal with natural disasters like fire, flooding or building collapse," says Kosecki.
The storage virtualization project started with an analysis of all the solutions available on the market. In the beginning, the obvious choice seemed to be some form of hardware-based virtualization from a storage array vendor. However, Kosecki and his team found that not only were these quite expensive, their vendor-specific nature limited their flexibility and scalability. More importantly, testing showed that most were unable to meet the company's expectations.
Over a month-long test period, using actual production data in a set of servers provided by Quad Pro, it became apparent that despite the IT team's concerns about the performance and efficiency of a software solution, the DataCore storage hypervisor was a smarter choice than any hardware solution.
"We knew that virtualization does not always offer the required performance," says Kosecki. "So we requested a number of proof-of-concept tests, which clearly demonstrated the advantages of DataCore's solution in many areas all at once. The introduction of the DataCore virtual layer not only improved performance, availability, and management efficiency, it was also more cost-effective than competing hardware-based solutions."
An Easy Transition to a More Effective Storage Infrastructure
DataCore's SANsymphony-V storage hypervisor was installed on two physical servers running Windows 2008 Server R2 operating system. All the data is located and stored on EMC CX3 and CX4 disk arrays connected via Fibre Channel. According to Mr. Kosecki, installation was easy and trouble-free.
To both ensure high data availability and minimize the risks of a natural disaster, it was decided to physically relocate one node (a server running SANsymphony-V and one disk array) to the remote secondary data center. This operation was conducted in June 2011.
"We were able to transfer the node to the secondary data center and implement disaster recovery without having to disable the entire infrastructure," notes Kosecki. "We had conducted many deployment test runs on the system and we decided to maintain the whole environment live. The switchover was very satisfactory and completely non-disruptive. We simply powered down one of SAN switches and disconnected the disk array. The other node took over seamlessly. The data remained available, production continued, and our users did not notice that we had just implemented a new disaster recovery site."
Even though one of the DataCore nodes is now in another building, the performance and efficiency of WIŚNIOWSKI Company's storage infrastructure did not change. SANsymphony-V's synchronous data mirroring across sites continues to ensure high availability and deliver high performance.
More Efficiency and Peace of Mind
The DataCore storage hypervisors helped the WIŚNIOWSKI Company eliminate any storage failure impact on users and streamline and improve efficiency in many functional areas of its IT Department. Infrastructure use is now consistent and uniform and storage can be easily provisioned for all key systems. With DataCore, the IT department can easily provide the needed capacity and performance for manufacturing operations while maintaining the high availability and data security so important to the company's continued success.
Improved data security and high availability ensures a more relaxed working environment for both users and the IT Department. The ease of administration and automation of common storage tasks offered by SANsymphony-V means that administrators have more time to deal with other projects, or malfunctions of other parts of the hardware or network infrastructure.
Says Kosecki, "Thanks to DataCore's SANsymphony-V software our production is more efficient. The malfunction of a disk array no longer disrupts operations or causes a stoppage of the whole company. Now we have additional time to react in critical situations, which positively influences our stress levels and greatly improves our comfort with our systems. Best of all, we can prevent many problems from impacting our users and customers."
Case study courtesy DataCore