Over the years at Hostek, we have tested different server and storage options. Our earliest hosting was powered by custom built servers. In the beginning this was an economical option for us. Within a few years and after hundreds of hours laboring to restore files due to failed hard drives and components we decided to use Dell servers and never looked back. Having Dell servers almost eliminated the problematic issues we had with custom-built servers.
Having better servers was not good enough so over the next 2-3 years we tested many complementary products, such as EMC appliances and Opensource SAN software while also exploring virtualization. From this exploration of new technologies we soon realized our goals. These new goals narrowed down a list of available products which could help us achieve a higher level of service.
Our Early Goals
- Near 100% uptime for all servers
- Quick recovery from disk failures if catastrophic
- Could be used to virtualize servers
- Could be used to move virtual servers between hosts with no reboot
We decided to deploy a SAN storage solution from Equallogic. Equallogic was acquired by Dell and today their solution still makes up a portion of the enterprise storage products Dell offers. A few key reasons we started with Equallogic include great performance, integration capabilities with VMware, and their superior support. At the time, these factors provided our team with an higher level of experience and expertise.
We deployed our first SAN with our goals in mind which meant installing a secondary SAN dedicated to snapshots and disaster prevention.
Cost Of Outages
The cost of outages can be huge and we knew having a SAN and secondary SAN was a worthwhile investment. Oracle’s downtime calculator instructions state that the impact of outages vary and several factors should be considered such as internal costs (e.g. Productivity, Increased Costs – for example paying for external service monitoring) and external costs (e.g. Lost Sales, Reputation).
Years after operating our private cloud we knew that to achieve a new set of goals – we needed more flexibility and that’s when we begin reviewing Dell’s Compellent product.
A brief history on Compellent – a storage solutions company started in 2002, publicly traded in 2007 and bought by Dell in 2011. Compellent storage solutions automate data movement at the block level.
With Compellent we were able to keep latency low and maximize scalability by reducing the number of individual SAN nodes we had to install. We rolled out the Compellent solution at the end of 2013. To keep our original goals this rollout included:
- Primary SAN
- *Secondary SAN
- Automated Near Realtime Replication
- Nightly Snapshots
- NO PRICE INCREASE
*The secondary SAN is completely independent from the primary SAN and data is automatically replicated to the Secondary SAN. In the event of a complete SAN failure we could quickly switch all virtual machines to utilize the secondary SAN – minimizing disruption.
We want to be the best choice for Business & Cloud Hosting solutions and to achieve this we have to continually invest into newer hardware with more advanced features and increase flexibility so we can provide what customers need in the future.