As with many data migrations, the impetus for the migration was a storage refresh. This educational services company which focuses on providing quality, career-focused learning was updating its legacy Dell® EMC VMAX storage solution to a Pure Storage M70 Array solution. This online company is recognized for its innovation in higher education with new personalized learning technologies. Its adaptive learning platform hosts classes 24×7 so downtime for their hosts and applications was not an option due to the requirement for constant availability.
Another major factor in this data migration project was time. The client needed to migrate from the costly Dell EMC VMAX storage as fast as possible. Also, a major factor to consider was data protection; the client needed to securely erase all data from the legacy storage before giving it back to Dell EMC. Scrubbing existing storage can add to data migration costs while also adding more hours to the data migration’s overall timeline.
In order to keep their nationally-recognized programs running day and night, the data migration solution had to be seamless—zero impact to the environment, quick—to avoid costly fees on the legacy storage, and most importantly—zero application downtime during the entire migration process.
Familiar with Cirrus Data’s Data Migration Server’s (DMS) unique capabilities, Cirrus Data’s partner looked at the requirements and knew that DMS was up to the challenges presented in this data migration project.
The client had Windows clustered hosts and applications; therefore, with Cirrus Data’s unique pMotion technology, they were able to offer a truly zero-downtime data migration solution. pMotion enables the new storage to stand-in for the old storage indefinitely allowing the client to remove the old storage—before final cutover. Additionally, the fact that DMS has a built-in secure erasure feature also weighed in on the decision.
At the onset of the project, Cirrus Data assisted the client and partner onsite for the initial 50TB of the 160TB data migration. With training from CDS, the client’s personnel were able to perform the remaining migrations with little to no consulting help needed from the partner or CDS.
“One of the best appliances and tools I have ever seen and used in my lengthy IT career.”
– Manager / Solutions Architect
Each step of the migration project went smoothly from start to finish. At the onset of the migration project, the insertion of the DMS appliance was seamless since it could be performed any time of the day or night without downtime or impact to the client’s environment. The appliance was placed into the FC fabric using Cirrus Data’s patented TDI technology, which allows SAN insertion without any downtime and without making any changes to any host, the FC switch zones, or the production storage.
The client’s online courses are hosted on Windows Clusters with many of these clusters running MS SQL databases. In a clustered storage environment, DMS uses pMotion to bring the source array offline, while the other destination array functions normally – all transparent to the hosts, databases and end users. Cutover can then be performed to the new storage array without interruption or downtime. This was incredibly useful for this online education company as courses must be available day and night.
The DMS Intelligent QoS feature (iQoS) allows the maximum use of all available bandwidth for copying data without impacting production I/O quality. iQoS functions by monitoring the actual load on each source LUN, automatically pausing migration when the LUN is too busy, then resuming when traffic on the LUN decreases. During this migration the iQoS function worked flawlessly and allowed a faster migration with no impact to current operations and processes, all with zero application downtime during and throughout the whole migration process. The DMS iQoS feature enabled the client to meet the tight deadline and get off the source storage before incurring additional hefty fees.
Secure disk scrubbing was available as an add-on feature of DMS and therefore additional tools or other vendor products did not have to be purchased or engaged to securely erase the client’s data from the source Dell EMC array which was being decommissioned, once again significantly lowering the cost of the entire migration project by using DMS.
Migrations are not often thought of as a simple task; but choosing the right migration tool and partner will help resolve complications quickly. One complication encountered during the migration was due to two instances of mis-set features in the arrays. In both instances the problems were resolved within 24 hours and the migration was completed flawlessly all without impact or downtime. Once all hosts were connected to the destination Pure Storage array, the disk scrubbing of the Dell EMC source array was successfully completed on time.
During the entire migration, support and training from both the partner and CDS were exceptional. With DMS’s simple and intuitive operation, the client was able to perform the migration without much assistance. When problems did arise, CDS support was excellent and provided assistance quickly to identify, provide corrective action steps, and assist in the corrective action plan. This allowed the migration and secure erase disk scrubbing operations to continue and complete on time and within budget. The education services company stated that DMS is one of the best tools they have ever encountered.