The Power Rangers get a new power up with DataON #2

Nov 03

The Power Rangers get a new power up with DataON #2

Last episode we covered Saban Brands need to implement and scale their ERP Dynamics AX. While attempting to scale their ERP, Saban Brands was hampered their underpowered iSCSI NAS, with declining write and data reliability. This lead to Saban Brands looking for a new storage solution to meet these six needs:

  • Ability to scale performance and capacity to support three years of growth
  • Tiered storage for performance and cost effectiveness
  • Clustered high availability for constant uptime with mission critical systems
  • Cost effective scalable modules of storage
  • Lower annual software maintenance costs
  • Enable cloud based disaster recovery

When first considering a new storage solution Saban Brands, considered both build & buy options. Traditional SAN vendors such as EMC and HP were disqualified due to their sheer initial and ongoing expense. Saban Brands also considered a DIY white box option; while this option was significantly more cost effective, a lack of vendor support made it too risky to support mission critical applications.

Saban Brands wanted a storage system that seamlessly supported their Microsoft Windows-based mission critical applications, including their new deployment of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP. This lead their engineers to Windows Server 2012 and to Storage Spaces. Saban Brands’ engineers recognized that with Storage Spaces, they could create a highly available cluster with pooled storage giving them SAN-like functionality but at a fraction of the cost.


“Hosting VMs with Storage Spaces is as fast as a SAN, but easier and cheaper. I don’t need my team to also learn Linux and this lowers the learning curve and reduce chance of human error.”

Jared Nikerson, Network Engineer, for Saban Brands

With a Microsoft choice made, Saban Brands needed a technology partner to make their goals a reality. After reviewing the DataON’s storage solution performance, Windows Server technical expertise, and pricing, it was decided that DataON could meet Saban Brands’ strategic goals. DataON’s  deep understanding of Windows Server 2012 and technologies such as SoFS and SMB 3.0 networking provided Saban Brands with the confidence that DataON had the enterprise level availability, scalability, performance, data protection, and DR infrastructure they needed.

Saban Brands’ phase one deployment was based around Scale out File Servers (SoFS) and Storage Spaces. DataON selected a two node cluster for high availability and scalability. This two node cluster was connected to three DataON JBODs via 12 Gb SAS with centralized management via MSCS Virtual Machine Manager.  This deployment provided Saban Brands’ with 580 TB of storage capacity. This cluster was equipped with Mellanox 56Gb InfiniBand with SMB 3.0 for networking. This configuration was duplicated in both Saban Brands’ corporate and data center sites.

Saban Brands’ phase two deployment was targeted for their disaster recovery needs. For this deployment DataON selected a dual node cluster, but incorporated a 500MB failover buffer. DataON selected to utilize Syncro CS to support backup process. To further bolster Saban Brands’ DR efforts, dual site Hyper-V replication was included with the failover cluster. Storage was provided by dual DataON DNS-2660 JBODs connected via 12GB SAS.

Jared Nikerson, Network Engineer, for Saban Brands

Once we made the ‘Microsoft Choice’ and it obvious that their JBOD platform and DataON were the ones to implement our storage strategy. We can now scale our Windows Server 2012 environments, and we’re ready for 2016 as well.

As part of their second deployment, Saban Brands also conducted critical failover tests to evaluate the cluster as a disaster recovery solution. This includes both RAID rebuilds for disk failures, and failure of various storage and networking components to validate the ability of the cluster to fail over during disaster recovery scenarios. The failover testing included SoFS, RAID Stripe, DNS-2660 JBODs, and targeted to test JBOD failures and power failures. Measured rebuild times for the failure of a JBOD were

In all cases, the DataON storage cluster passed both the rebuild tests and the disaster recovery simulation tests without any issues. Moreover, performance remained strong in all of the disaster re­covery failover cases, even when simulating a complete RAID controller failover. This performance gave Saban Brands the confidence to deploy the DataON solution as a replacement for their iSCSI NAS in both their production data center and at their disaster recovery site. This not only met Saban Brands’ short-term needs, but gave them room to grow in the future.

Saban Brands Production and Windows Server 2016 ready

“The improvements from Windows Servers 2008 to 2012 were notable, with no cluster issues for 2012. We found the best success with splitting our clusters, with one each network and disaster recovery. For Windows 2016, we’re looking forward to being able to replicate both clusters and stor­age,” said Jared Nickerson, Network Engineer, Saban Brands. “It’s pretty easy, it all Microsoft, no Linux, and no learning curve.” Saban Brands can now look forward to new features such as Storage Replica in Windows Server 2016 and know we have a cost effective and scalable storage plan.