Simplify the process and reduce the costs of data migration and acceleration

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Every now and then, companies have to undertake a data migration project for one reason or another. This may be to consolidate data on a single platform after a merger or acquisition, or to accommodate an application upgrade or consolidation. Another common reason to move data is the distance from legacy systems. Whatever the motivation, a data migration project is no fun.

In the years 2000, 2007 and 2011, Bloor Research undertook research studies on the costs and challenges of data migration. Their 2011 study showed that the average budget for a data migration project is $ 875,000. Despite spending like this, only 62% of these projects were completed “on time and on budget”. The average cost of budget overruns is $ 268,000. One of Bloor’s recommendations for maximizing a project’s chances of success is to have a dedicated in-house competence center or team that specializes in data migration. Even with this, success is not guaranteed.

It is in this context that Cirrus Data Solutions (CDS) has developed a range of tools specifically designed to reduce the time, costs and risks of data migration, data acceleration and protection. Solutions manufactured using CDS ‘patented Transparent Datapath Intercept technology are sold exclusively through a partner channel, typically as a service item for new data storage sales. They are plug and play solutions that do not require in-depth knowledge of fiber channel.

The first of these solutions is Data Migration Server (DMS). It is a software appliance that can run on standard hardware. It works on the concept of a traditional telephone answering machine, where the answering machine sits in line between the phone and the wall outlet. In this case, the data migration server sits online between the old storage system and the application servers and moves the data to the new storage system in a live production environment. After the data is transferred to the new storage system, a brief shutdown of approximately ten minutes is required to remount the volume, and then the migration process is complete.

Cirrus Data identified several use cases for its DMS solution, including storage technology refresh, data consolidation, database relocation, block storage recovery, implementation of a tiered storage solution and improved data performance. The vendor gives the example of an organization that has just purchased solid state storage to integrate with traditional spinning disk storage. The company wants to move some of the data – perhaps a database index – to the much faster solid-state storage system. DMS acts as a migrant to make the copy hours without any downtime and without interrupting the existing operation. Once the migration is complete, the business can move to the new storage quickly and with minimal disruption.

The architecture of this solution is shown in Figure 1 below, with DMS servers, paired for high availability requirements, shown in blue.

cirrus data figure 1

The solution is physically installed on the wire, like the answering machine comparator. The ports on the back of the servers intercept Fiber Channel wires. No changes should be made to the existing environment: Fiber Channel zone and switch, host driver, and storage. Cirrus Data calls it true plug and play integration into a production environment. By making no changes to the environment, Cirrus Data eliminates much of the risk of data migration, and the migration process can be performed on a production system with virtually no downtime.

A second solution from Cirrus Data Solutions is their Data Caching Server (DCS). This solution is designed for data acceleration. Consider a hybrid storage environment where a business has the latest and greatest solid state disk (SSD) storage technology in addition to traditional rotating hard disk drive (HDD) storage. SSD is still a bit more expensive than HDD. Cirrus Data inserts a cache server in the middle, and instead of migrating the data like in the case of DMS, the server is used to speed up disk rotation. Again, no changes are necessary for the environment. According to Cirrus Data, just plug in the DCS and it will start caching, as shown in Figure 2.

cirrus data figure 2

Cirrus Data adds out-of-the-box flash storage cards to DCS servers. Each card in the market today can have up to 4 terabytes, and with the pair it is possible to have 24 terabytes of flash storage in the middle for caching. This small amount of flash storage is enough to speed up production storage. Suppose you have 100 terabytes of production hard drive storage, and by adding the DCS servers, you have a cache layer between your applications and existing storage, at a fraction of the cost of purchasing all the storage. SSD.

DCS can be used as a temporary solution to help you overcome the obstacle of a big production job, such as processing year-end finances, or it can be a permanent solution to extend the life of the product. your traditional storage by converting it to a hybrid solution. A storage VAR could set up the temporary configuration and offer Cache-as-a-Service.

The Data Migration Server and Data Caching Server are the first of several planned products from Cirrus Data Solutions that will all use Transparent Datapath Intercept technology. A data protection product is expected by the end of this year, with other solutions to follow thereafter.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

Sean N. Ayres