Cherokee County School District (CCSD) is a high-performing K-12 public school system in the metro Atlanta area. They serve more than 42,000 students with over 4800 employees in 41 schools and centers.
IT Challenge: Replace an aging storage system with a more cost-effective solution that could meet their growing needs for users and storage
CCSD had an aging three-tiered storage system running VMware that included a Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN. They needed to find a new storage system that could support heavy VM usage, as there are nearly 50,000 students and staff that access the system daily. HR, payroll, central records, and student registration systems all utilize the same system. They also wanted to consolidate their storage systems into one on-premise platform for direct and easy access to their data. Having a visibility and monitoring tool would be very important to ensure high availability of their new storage system.
CCSD’s goals in updating their IT infrastructure included:
- Consolidate their three-tiered storage system into one platform
- Provide on-premise storage
- Find a less expensive solution than their current VMware solution
- Support heavy VM usage from students and staff
- Support current HR, central records, and student registration systems
The Solution: DataON S2D-3212 with Microsoft Window Server 2016 Storage Spaces Direct
Matt Roper, Technology Support Services Manager, CCSD, went to Microsoft Ignite 2016 to learn more about Windows Server 2016 as a potential alternative to VMware. He found Windows Server 2016 to be a good data center technology that could support CCSD’s needs for today and for the future. He liked how easy it is to use Windows Server 2016 and found that the price for licenses was much cheaper than what they were paying for VMware.
Roper learned about DataON through Microsoft’s presentations at Microsoft Ignite 2016, where DataON was touted as one of Microsoft’s oldest hardware partners. This gave Roper confidence that DataON could deliver a high-quality solution.
DataON proposed their S2D-3212 hyper-converged cluster appliance with Intel Xeon processors for optimized performance, density, and capacity. The S2D-3212 is a hybrid SSD/HDD solution that can achieve over 1.5M IOPS in a 4-node cluster. It combines high-performance NVMe SSDs with SMB3 networking to maximize performance and capacity.
After CCSD completed their evaluation, they found the DataON solution to provide the most “bang for the buck performance.” CCSD liked that the S2D-3212 included NVMe and 40GbE networking for high performance, which was not always available with other vendors.
The inclusion of DataON MUST was also an important factor in choosing DataON because of its ability to help them monitor the performance of the storage system and help to identify potential issues before they arise.
Platform Configuration and Deployment
CCSD purchased six S2D-3212 hyper-converged appliances with Intel Xeon E5-2600v4 processors. They included Intel NVMe SSDs for the cache tier, Intel SATA SSDs for the performance tier and SAS HDDs for storage.
The S2D-3212’s were linked by Mellanox 40GbE RDMA networking adapters and a Mellanox Spectrum 16-port 40GbE Ethernet switch, which was connected to CCSD’s existing 40GbE switches. Storage Spaces Direct leverages an Ethernet network and takes advantage of RDMA over Ethernet for a loss-less network with no packet drops.
“The scripts that DataON provided for us to deploy Storage Spaces Direct were super easy, and they provided very detailed documentation. Plus, Hyper-V was easy to learn and use, and it took us a tenth of the time to set it up than VMware.”
With their new DataON storage system, CCSD now has a consolidated system that can support all their 50,000 students and staff.
“Microsoft has a winner,” said Roper. “Everything is incredibly faster, feels 10 times faster. Tasks that used to take minutes to complete, now only takes seconds.”
Roper really likes the simplified management, scalability and capacity from the DataON and Windows Server solution. He also likes the lower price tag for Windows Server, which means he can re-allocate funds for VMware licensing to other projects.
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