POKE London

SAN expansion is a snap for creative marketing agency with Overland

Founded in 2001 and with ofces in London and New York, creative marketing agency Poke provides clients with cutting edge digital marketing implementations. Customers of the company, which employs around 80 people, include Diesel, Orange, Mavi, French Connection and Virgin.

Being tethered to a desk all day doesn’t lend itself to the kind of collaborative and dynamic environment that is today’s creative media industry. No one knows when or where inspiration for the next award-winning campaign will happen. In this environment you absolutely need a reliable, high performance network so that ideas cultivate and ow in real-time – whether your hanging out in the kitchen, brainstorming in the lobby, or holding a campaign workshop in the conference room.

Getting the best performance from IT

From an IT perspective, delivering and maintaining such an environment could have been a costly proposition. To make its IT budget stretch further while delivering the benets needed Poke’s IT team, led by Tom Davies, opted to migrate much of its physical server environment to a virtual one using VMware. All the virtual and physical machines, along with all the data used by the staff, were backed up locally to an existing SAN and then taken offsite on tape.

However, Davies wanted to ensure its tier one services – the ones that supported the creative juices owing around the company – were optimised to deliver blazing performance for the staff. This meant that Poke’s DNS, rewall and WLAN applications, which had all been virtualised, would get their own dedicated SAN, distinctly separate from the company’s existing storage and back up platform.

Performance wasn’t the only driver for this change. By implementing a second SAN, Davies knew that rather than simply expanding the existing SAN, he would be in a position to gain redundancy should the primary datastore fail and ensure the business would be back up and running in almost no time.

Making the right storage decision

Working closely with reseller NexStor, Davies and his team evaluated several SAN options that could meet the performance requirements. Affordability and simplicity were also key factors since the second SAN had to function as a shared disk for the tier one applications.

They found that the best SAN for the job was Overland’s SnapSAN storage array which offered similar functionality and performance as Poke’s existing SAN but at less than half the cost. In fact, the SnapSAN turned out to be even more cost-effective than simply expanding the existing SAN; enabling Davies to meet his storage needs within budget.

Investing in the Overland array also gave Poke the ability to expand its capacity in the future. By opting for a separate, second unit rather than expanding its existing SAN, the company has also made the network more resilient. If Poke had simply added a JBOD expansion chassis to the existing SAN to scale the capacity, it would have been left with a single point of failure for the shared disk. By having two separate SAN datastores, Davies has helped improve resilience and availability while mitigating risk – all at a more affordable price.

Two SANs are better than one

Poke’s network currently consists of eight physical servers, six in the VMware structure, which are connected through a HP switch, a mixture of 3800s for the core and 48 series to the two SANs. In terms of applications, the rst SAN is used for a mix of storage and backup while the Overland solution is used to provide shared storage for the VMware environment via 4 SAS disks (300Gb) and for the DNS, rewall and WLAN.

“You have to have centralized shared storage with VMware,” Davies explains, “if you lose a host, the HA functionality within VMware relies on the failover host to see the same storage, so the disks can’t be local. The SnapSAN we use for the shared storage has the capacity for two RAID controllers to deliver the IO over trunked Ethernet ports using iSCSI for fast disk directly to and from the VMware environment. The SnapSAN is essentially a high-performance hard drive for VMware.”

The SnapSAN storage array from Overland Storage is an ideal platform for providing non-stop storage services to the most demanding applications. Designed for high availability, it combines advanced data protection features and proven reliability with exible host connectivity to ensure that it will integrate into most storage environment, right out of the box.

Davies highlighted some of the benets of the Overland SnapSAN: ”Not everyone has the same requirements for shared storage. We needed something that would allow us to take another step towards a majority-virtualized environment without consuming a large percentage of our budget. Speaking from the perspective of needing an iSCSi SAN that would do what we needed without paying for features we wouldn’t utilise, the SnapSAN by Overland Storage was an ideal t. Easy to congure and manage with enough features to cover what we need. Its dual RAID cards and power supplies provide as much resilience as you can ask from a standalone unit.”

An exceptional platform in almost every way

Reecting on the entire process, Davies says he is very pleased with the performance of the Overland SnapSAN, describing it as “A great t for departments on a limited budget but with scalable virtualization in mind. Finding the right SAN solution is tricky as you don’t want to compromise for performance and reliability. Overland Storage is the right choice.”

Davies concludes: “SnapSAN has proven to be a stable, efcient product and we are very happy with its performance.”

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