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Maintaining Data Center Uptime — Anytime, From Anywhere
Maintaining Data Center Uptime — Anytime, From Anywhere
Maintaining Data Center Uptime — Anytime, From Anywhere
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Maintaining Data Center Uptime — Anytime, From Anywhere


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Enterprises that rely on continuous IT infrastructure availability must identify and resolve potentially adverse events without delay. Dell OpenManage Mobile app helps maintain system availability …

Enterprises that rely on continuous IT infrastructure availability must identify and resolve potentially adverse events without delay. Dell OpenManage Mobile app helps maintain system availability from a mobile device — wherever administrators may be. Read more:

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  • 1. 66 2013 Issue 03 | Customer perspective Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 3. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. B ehind Dell’s virtual storefront, 100,000 employees handle global operations using hundreds of applications and petabytes of storage. With an eye to automating disaster recovery, enhancing data insight and saving money, Dell decided to move from leasing storage to purchasing its own storage for supporting all Dell operations that depend on Microsoft SQL Server databases. The storage solution had to be extremely scalable, provide high availability and enable a transition that would not jeopardize the stability or performance of any system. To help keep systems online, engineers wanted to update databases with new software that automated failover processes. They also wanted the solution to help prevent slowdowns in response time when processes such as system backups ran behind the scenes. After acquiring Compellent Technologies, Dell began migrating all its SQL Server databases to Dell Compellent Storage Center™ storage area network (SAN) arrays. In addition, Dell engineers joined the Microsoft Technology Adoption Program for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and upgraded all databases to the software’s preproduction release. The program allowed Dell to take advantage of new To expand product offerings and boost customer service, Dell migrates its Microsoft® SQL Server® databases to a Dell™ Compellent™–based storage solution without disrupting business. Dell Maintaining application availability during database migration
  • 2. | 2013 Issue 03 67Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 3. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. capabilities such as SQL Server AlwaysOn, which automates failover. Staying online when it counts Dell needed to implement new arrays and upgrade databases to SQL Server 2012 with little to no downtime to avoid additional leasing expenses. To accomplish this, Dell Services completed the migration process in several phases. First, engineers upgraded non-mission-critical databases to SQL Server 2012 using manual failover processes. Then, after the database upgrade was complete, engineers migrated the databases to the Dell Compellent arrays. Reinaldo Kibel, senior architect of Database Management Practice and Infrastructure Technology Delivery Services at Dell, explains, “For our less-critical systems, we made the switch in the middle of the night to minimize disruptions, because we had to manually fail over these systems. They were each offline for a few minutes or a few hours, depending on the environment and the number of changes we had to validate.” For mission-critical systems, Dell used SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn to maintain continuous availability of tier-one database applications. The storage team first migrated the replica disaster recovery database to the Dell Compellent arrays. Next, the team used AlwaysOn to switch the primary site so that it became the disaster recovery site and vice versa. The storage team then migrated the second site to the Dell Compellent arrays. Kibel says, “We had zero downtime on our mission- critical SQL Server systems when we migrated them to Dell Compellent because we used SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn.” Dell estimates that it will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in leasing fees each year by using its Dell Compellent arrays. Thirumala Kommineni, database administrator at Dell, says, “We can save an estimated tens of thousands of dollars each month in operational expenditures by migrating our SQL Server databases from leased arrays to Dell Compellent arrays.” Dell saves money by using built-in capabilities such as thin provisioning, automated tiering and other features that were not available in its previous approach. Kibel says, “With Dell Compellent arrays, engineers can create a virtual volume that is 1 TB. The Compellent solution only allocates the capacity to the thin- provisioned volume when the SQL Server database actually needs it.” In addition, the built-in Dell Compellent Data Progression™ automated tiering software moves large databases with almost no I/O activity to slower, less-expensive disks; conversely, smaller databases with numerous reads and writes reside on faster, more-expensive storage. “In the past, we had no way to effectively tier data because manually moving data around on 800 servers just isn’t feasible,” explains Kibel. “Today, we are able to save money and boost performance because the Dell Compellent Storage Center manages data tiering automatically. We don’t have to even think about it.” Boosting availability through automated failover To be sure that customers and employees can always access tier-one systems — which support, the Dell Cloud and other business-critical applications — Dell depends on SQL Server AlwaysOn. Should the primary system copy become unavailable, SQL Server is designed to automatically fail over to another database copy in its availability group. “For months we tested the SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn configurations and validated that each application would keep its database connection even after the primary copy failed,” explains Kibel. “This included making sure that no orders would be lost and all customer data would be saved.” In addition, by automating failover, Dell minimized risk. Kommineni says, “Today, we have peace of mind because our Enhancing customer service and business intelligence Dell moved its database storage from leased servers to a storage solution designed and implemented by Dell engineers. As a result, the company was able to boost uptime, agility and response times, ultimately leading to enhanced customer service. 99.99% By adopting an in-house Dell Compellent–based storage solution, Dell engineers achieved 99.99 percent availability, allowing customers to enjoy continuous service. 0 Dell experienced zero downtime on its mission-critical SQL Server systems during the migration to Dell Compellent arrays, thanks to SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn. 4.5 TB Using the SQL Server 2012 xVelocity engine, Dell was able to run business intelligence queries on roughly 4.5 TB of sales data in a few minutes, compared to the hours previously needed.
  • 3. 68 2013 Issue 03 | Customer perspective Reprinted from Dell Power Solutions, 2013 Issue 3. Copyright © 2013 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. mission-critical applications run on SQL Server 2012 and we can use SQL Server AlwaysOn to maintain 99.99 percent availability.1 As a result, we know that our customers will enjoy continuous service regardless of any outages.” Customers can also complete purchases more quickly than before after IT personnel virtualized database management of global receipts. Previously, each time a sale was completed on, the financial application managing the sales cart needed to query databases for the next sequential receipt number. To accelerate this process, IT personnel replaced the Identity Columns in the databases that support shopping carts with the new SQL Server 2012 Sequence Object. “Now, when a customer completes a sale, they get their receipt in several seconds,” says Kibel. Speeding data access Today, the Dell IT team can provide real-time reports based on information in database replicas supported by SQL Server AlwaysOn. Engineers also use the replicas to boost the performance of tier- one systems. “We can now use replicas to support backups of our mission-critical systems,” says Kibel. “By doing so, we offload tasks that typically consume 20 to 30 percent of systems’ CPUs, which improves system performance accordingly.” Similarly, software upgrades are fast and easy. “In the past, every software patch cost a lot of money because IT personnel had to come in in the middle of the night, take systems offline and manually manage the whole process,” says Kibel. “Today, I can take down any node running in a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn availability group without any planning — and the applications just continue to work.” Kibel also explains that engineers can make other changes to databases while they are available to users because the databases now reside on Dell Compellent Enterprise Manager. “What used to take up to two months of team effort to plan and orchestrate can now be done in a few days because we use a virtual storage solution based on Microsoft® Windows Server®, SQL Server and Compellent arrays.” Moreover, business employees can obtain the operational insight they need in less time than before. IT personnel configured the company’s business intelligence (BI) solution, which runs on the Microsoft platform, to take advantage of the SQL Server 2012 xVelocity analytics engine. “We analyze about 4.5 TB of data on premier customer sales to understand trends about sales, including the most popular configurations and delivery times,” Kibel says. “By using the xVelocity engine, BI queries that used to take hours to run now take only a few minutes.” The Dell Compellent arrays enable the IT team to shorten response times for new environments. Not only can engineers make more changes to the environment while it is running, but also they can get the equipment they need faster than before. Kibel says, “It used to take about three months to justify and obtain a new environment and anywhere from three days to a week to install it. Administrators now get a new environment in a couple of weeks. Justifying and obtaining approval for adding capacity has gone from weeks to days. “Cloud computing is a big initiative for us, and so we need extremely resilient storage that is fast and easy to change. Being able to use virtual storage pools, thin provisioning and automated data tiering gives us a phenomenal advantage in rapidly adapting our infrastructure to support change and be ready to support emerging opportunities.” Passing on the keys to success “The best way to sell and support your products is to use them,” says Kibel. “Replacing such a critical part of our infrastructure without disrupting operations is not a simple challenge in any sense. Things didn’t always work like we expected, and we found issues, but our team collaborated and worked together to resolve them.” As a result, Dell Services gained firsthand experience in overcoming the challenges that Dell customers may face. Kibel says, “We strive to provide the best end-to-end solutions by leveraging the products that we sell. Our implementation of SQL Server 2012 and Compellent arrays was an important step toward realizing that goal.” 1 Results based on March 2013 internal Dell testing with actual mean time between failure (MTBF) calculated from a run time total of 26 million+ hours (accumulated by 6,724 systems). Run time and availability impacting failures for a six-month period from August 2012 through January 2013. Estimated weighted average mean time to recovery (MTTR) of 6.6 hours for 12-hour part service-level agreement (SLA). Actual performance will vary based on configuration, usage and manufacturing variability. “Today, we have peace of mind because our mission-critical applications run on SQL Server 2012 and we can use SQL Server AlwaysOn to maintain 99.99 percent availability.” — Thirumala Kommineni Database administrator at Dell July 2013