King County Library System (KCLS) is one of the top library systems in the United States, serving over 1.4M residents in the region surrounding Seattle in Washington State. Established in 1942, the library system has 49 locations throughout the region, neighboring Microsoft’s headquarters. The library system has 1400 employees.
IT Challenge: Replace an end-of-life EqualLogic iSCSI SAN with a simpler software-defined solution
KCLS had an EqualLogic iSCSI SAN that was reaching its end of life. They wanted to replace it with a simpler hyper-converged solution, to bring everything into a single system.
KCLS had been a Microsoft customer for many years and was a current Windows Server 2012 R2 customer. Performance was “okay” with their Windows Server 2012 R2 and EqualLogic SAN solution but they were hesitant to move their main catalog database to it because of performance bottlenecks and the age of the EqualLogic SAN.
- KCLS’ goals in updating their IT infrastructure included:
- Consolidate Hyper-V and storage servers into a single hyper-converged system.
- Continue to take advantage of Microsoft’s academic pricing for Hyper-V.
- Continue to use their current Cisco Nexus switch.
- Deploy a system management tool so they can see where bottlenecks are occurring.
The Solution: DataON S2D-3110 with Microsoft Window Server 2016 and Storage Spaces Direct
KCLS had heard about the upcoming Windows Server 2016 and were very interested in its Storage Spaces Direct feature. There was some internal debate on whether to continue with a traditional SAN infrastructure or move to Storage Spaces Direct. Since KCLS was very close to Microsoft’s headquarters, they were able to meet with program managers for Storage Spaces Direct, who convinced them it was the right solution for them.
With a software solution selected, KCLS needed to find the right hardware partner. They went to Microsoft’s Ignite 2016 conference with that mission in mind.
KCLS was aware of DataON’s solid reputation in the industry and at Ignite, they saw that DataON was a main partner with Microsoft for Storage Spaces Direct.
All of the big players… they only have a couple of people that have any experience with Storage Spaces Direct. After meeting with DataON, we could easily tell they were experienced at deploying Storage Spaces Direct and we should be partnering with them.” Eric Crew, Network and Systems Engineer, KCLS
In addition to a hyper-converged system, KCLS wanted a management tool so they could monitor performance in their data center. “With older systems, it was hard to see where the bottlenecks were”, said Eric Crew, Network and Systems Engineer, KCLS. DataON was able to meet that requirement with their exclusive MUST management and visibility software tool for Windows Server 2016.
KCLS chose a DataON S2D-3110 hyper-converged cluster solution. Optimized for performance and IOPS, this 5-node all-flash Intel NVMe SSD solution can provide maximum performance while only consuming 1 rack unit (1U) per server. DataON’s exclusive MUST (Management Utility Software Tool)
was included for management and visibility in the Windows Server 2016 environment.
There were some initial challenges with deploying the Storage Spaces Direct solution, which KCLS attributed to a “blessing and curse of being an early adopter and figuring out how all the pieces fit together.”
One of the questions KCLS needed to resolve was whether to use RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) or iWARP RDMA, as both RDMA networking protocols are supported by Windows Server 2016. KCLS chose to use Chelsio iWARP RDMA configuration because it does not require a lossless Ethernet network, and they were able to connect to their Cisco Nexus switch with no issues.
After setup and migration, KCLS saw a significant performance improvement in their new virtualized environment.
- 30% increase in performance and now delivering 2.1M IOPS
- Steady and predictable performance
In addition, KCLS was able to consolidate three Hyper-V clusters into one, reduce hardware by 10-15 servers, and continue to enjoy the academic pricing from Microsoft on their software.
Our new DataON and Storage Spaces Direct solution is a lot faster and more responsive,” said Eric Crew from KCLS. “And with MUST, I can easily find those bottlenecks from a single pane of glass.”
KCLS is now test piloting their main catalog system onto a Storage Spaces Direct system, and has added 1 S2D node to their existing 5-node cluster.