In preparation for the development of Windows Server® 2012, Microsoft polled customers and found that features that make high availability easier to configure and more affordable are critical. Little wonder. The features are pennies from heaven to the vast universe of smaller IT shops that often have found traditional high-availability solutions too expensive and difficult to install and maintain.
In a recent video, John Loveall, principal program manager for the Windows Server Division of Microsoft, discusses how Microsoft® Windows Server 2012 and the LSI® Syncro™ CS solution can make it easier for organizations of all sizes to deploy high availability.
While large organizations remain a vital proving ground for new breeds of computer gear, Loveall sees small businesses, branch offices and private cloud environments using high-availability systems as a window into the future of server technology.
When I am out on the road in Europe, visiting customers and partners, one common theme that comes up on a daily basis is that high-availability systems are essential to nearly all businesses regardless of size or industry. Sadly, all too often we see what can happen when systems running business-critical applications such as transaction processing, Web servers or electronic commerce are not accessible – potentially lost revenue and lost productivity, leading to dramatically downward-spiralling customer satisfaction.
To reduce this risk, the industry focus has been on achieving the best level of high availability, and for the enterprise market segment this has often meant installing and running storage area network (SAN) solutions. SANs can offer users a complete package – scalability, performance, centralised management and the all-important uptime or high availability.
Drawbacks of SAN
But for all its positives, the SAN also has its downsides. To ensure continuous application availability, server clustering and shared-node connections that build redundancy into a cluster and eliminate single points of failure are crucial. The solution is not only extremely complex, it can have a hefty price tag, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, and can be hard for many smaller to medium-sized businesses to afford.
When considering budgets and storage needs, many businesses have shied away from investing in a SAN and opted for a far simpler direct attached storage (DAS) solution – mainly because it can be far easier to implement and considerably cheaper. Historically, however, the biggest problem with this was that DAS could not offer high availability, and recovery from a server or storage failure could take several hours or even days.
Combining the simplicity of DAS with the high availability of SAN storage
As businesses work to reduce storage costs, simplify deployment, and increase agility and uptime in the face of massive data growth, storage architects are often looking for a way to combine the best of both worlds: the simplicity of DAS storage and the high availability of SAN storage. The goal for many is to create a system that is not only cheaper than a regular SAN but also offers full redundancy, less management complexity and guarantees uptime for the business in case a server goes down.
LSI has pioneered an HA-DAS solution, Syncro™ CS, that costs approximately 30% less than traditional HA entry-level SAN solutions, depending on the solution/configuration. It reduces complexity by providing fully redundant, shared-node storage and application failover, without requiring storage networking hardware. Syncro CS solutions are also designed to reduce latency compared to SAN-based solutions, helping to accelerate storage I/O performance and speed applications.
The good news for businesses that rely on DAS is that they have an option, Syncro CS, to now more easily upgrade their DAS infrastructure to help achieve high availability, with easier management and lower cost. The result is a much simpler failover solution that provides more affordable business continuity and reduces downtime.