The solution

OIT tapped Data Networks to analyze the current situation, then design and deliver short- and long-term solutions. Overall, Data Networks’ recommendation was three-pronged: the memory shortage was resolved by adding 32 GB of RAM to each of the two Dell servers in the cluster, for a total of 96 GB per server; a third server, originally purchased for the purpose of testing backups, was upgraded to the same amount of RAM and incorporated into the cluster; and a new Dell EqualLogic PS6100 Series iSCSI SAN was installed to provide more dedicated hard drive space.

Data Networks and OIT project team members executed the ensuing engagement as planned. During an analysis phase, Data Networks verified the details and capabilities of existing host servers, SAN and backup and recovery infrastructures, and then documented a recommended design for the new architecture. With approval from OIT, Data Networks engineers first undertook the PS6100 SAN implementation. From racking, configuring and connecting the SAN hardware, through allocating storage resources to the Dell cluster and updating the IT Department’s current backup and recovery documentation to reflect the new SAN’s presence, Data Networks provided comprehensive services to bring the SAN online.

Once Data Networks completed the new SAN-related services, their engineers next upgraded the RAM on all three Dell PowerEdge servers and incorporated the third server into the cluster. Data Networks accomplished this using step-by-step best practices and extensive experience with similar projects, moving the VMs off of the clustered host servers before powering them off, installing and verifying the additional RAM, powering the host servers back on, confirming that the additional RAM was accessible, and finally migrating the VMs back to their host servers.

Mission accomplished

Data Networks delivered the solution within the promised budget and timelines. They then performed a thorough knowledge transfer to OIT staff related to the enhancements made and informed them of what to expect going forward. Since project completion, OIT leadership at SMCM has noted substantial improvements in their ability to add new VMs as needed to the cluster environment, and to support contingencies with a more robust backup and recovery platform.

As OIT’s Assistant Director of Infrastructure Support Services, Robert Brown, put it, “The RAM and SAN upgrades allowed us to bring all three host servers up-to-par with one another in a true active cluster. With three servers in the cluster, there are still two active servers if one server is down for maintenance or experiences problems. Data Networks was instrumental in bringing this needed solution about.”

Click here to view the PDF version of the Virtual Server and Storage Environment Upgrades help St. Mary’s College of Maryland Plan for Future Growth case study.