By using local storage you not only eliminate the cost and complexity of a SAN, you also ensure fast, efficient SQL response times.
SAN MATEO, CALIF.—
Last month, a company called SIOS
Technology Corp. conducted a survey of large data centers to understand current
trends and challenges related to providing high availability and disaster
recovery for Microsoft’s SQL Server (a commonly used database for large amounts
of data). The company hosting the survey said it has developed a better (more
cost-effective) way of managing these two critical elements of data center and
large file-based production operations.
Melnick, chief operating officer at San Mateo, Calif.-based SIOS
Technology Corp., said protecting SQL Server from downtime and
disasters was essential.
For most survey respondents,
controlling costs was the most significant challenge. The rising cost of
Microsoft SQL licensing
was next (17 percent), followed by vendor
lock in (14 percent) and the cost of SAN storage (13 percent).
Jerry Melnick, Chief Operating Officer at San Mateo, Calif.-based
SIOS Technology Corp., said video editing software also relies on powerful
databases, such as SQL Server software, to store, find, retrieve, and manage
video clips from their archives. For broadcasters, video production business,
and other video-related businesses, protecting SQL Server from downtime and
disasters is essential. However, the traditional way to provide high
availability protection is with a shared-storage failover cluster, a
potentially costly and complex process that can sometime slow performance. So,
do you run your editing software without protecting SQL so end users have fast
access to their video? Melnick said that means putting your systems at risk of
complete downtime and significant data loss.
Most large data centers protect important SQL databases using
clustering software. In a traditional cluster, the primary application server
(where SQL is operated) is paired with a standby server in a “cluster”
configuration. Both servers have access to the same data located on a shared
storage device using a Shared Storage Area Network. If there is a failure
on the primary server, clustering software moves the application operation to the standby server. In a Windows environment, Windows Server
Failover Clustering software is typically used. Since the standby server is
using the same shared storage as the primary server, SQL operation can continue
without data loss.
While traditional clusters protect SQL from downtime, the shared
storage SAN required in these clusters is often expensive and complex to
deploy. They can also slow SQL response times, making them impractical for
video editing and production systems.
Melnick said that SIOS has developed an easier and more cost-efficient
way to protect the SQL Server databases when deploying a Microsoft Windows
Server Failover Clustering architecture. It’s called SIOS DataKeeper
Cluster Edition SANLess clustering software. The SIOS solution, he explained,
allows you to use low cost, high speed server-side, local storage and eliminate
the expensive SAN storage.
Melnick said the software uses “real time, block-level replication to
synchronize the local storage on the primary and standby servers, making it
appear to the WSFC software as identical to a SAN.”
If you are building a two-node cluster, he said, the company’s
DataKeeper software can save money on SQL licensing costs because you don’t
have to buy the more expensive SQL Server Enterprise Edition
database—typically required in SAN environments. You’re still getting
the high availability of files required and, with the SIOS software, you have
greater flexibility in configuring servers for HA and DR applications. At the
end of the day, Melnick said media companies could save significant costs (“tens
of thousands of dollars”) by adding the DataKeeper software’s HA and DR
features to their SQL Server Standard Edition deployments.
(B) use real time, host-based replication to synchronize
storage on the primary and standby servers, making them appear
Windows Server Failover Clustering as a traditional
“By using local storage you not only eliminate the cost and complexity of a
SAN, you also ensure fast, efficient SQL response times,” he said. ““Unlike
traditional clusters, SANLess clusters also allow you to use high performance SSD
storage to ensure fast SQL performance and speed the process of finding and
accessing the video information.”
Shared storage presents its
own set of costs and
challenges, Melnick said, and the company’s survey reflected that. “According to
our survey results, SANs are costly to administer. More than half (55 percent)
spends more than $80,000 per year on SAN administration, including
percent who spend more than $250,000 per year.”
More than half of respondents to the SIOS survey were from large
enterprises with more than 1,000 employee (51 percent) and most were
headquartered in the United States (76 percent); with 9 percent from EU
countries. The survey pool represented a broad range of industries, including
telecommunications (31 percent), healthcare (16 percent), and financial
services (15 percent). Most had also purchased SQL Server Enterprise Edition
licenses in the past two years.
Keeping operations running smoothly is the key to any data canter or
video production and/or playout facility. That’s probably why most companies
(68 percent) talking the SIOS survey said they purchased
SQL Server Enterprise Edition software instead of the cheaper SQL Server
Standard Edition just to get the HA and DR features that are not included in
the Standard Edition package. The Standard Edition does offer a “Database
Mirroring Mode “(used for HA and DR), but some (7 percent) respondents found it
“too labor intensive” to use.