T&D World Magazine

Pee Dee Electric Cooperative to Use Storage Virtualization Platform

Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, a non-profit electric cooperative located in Darlington, South Carolina, that supports more than 30,000 consumers, has embraced and utilized a software-defined storage architecture through their use of DataCore’s SANsymphony-V storage virtualization platform.

“In the past, any IT budget spent on maintaining our IT infrastructure is money that is not being used to improve consumer satisfaction and pursue technology initiatives that allow us to evolve our own operations,” said Robbie Howle, IT manager at Pee Dee Electric Cooperative. “By leveraging DataCore, this has changed. Since virtualizing our storage infrastructure, we’ve not only seen massive increases in performance and reliability, but have also been able to reallocate operational and capital expenditures to other important projects that will allow us to operate more efficiently. That way, we are now leveraging and powering existing infrastructure – via DataCore – to improve our overall customer experience.”

When Pee Dee Electric began the process of virtualizing their servers and desktops, DataCore partner, HillSouth suggested that the company explore the benefits of virtualized storage. The original virtualization project required a storage area network (SAN) that could better meet performance and capacity needs as each server and desktop was virtualized.

Ultimately, the company chose DataCore’s SANsymphony-V storage virtualization platform for its feature set, but also found that the ease of deployment made the solution highly attractive. Initial benchmark testing confirmed that the virtualized infrastructure proposed by HillSouth would achieve better IOPs and more throughput than EMC could deliver with a comparable system.

Pee Dee Electric’s IT environment now consists of two, synchronously mirrored SANsymphony-V storage servers as well as a third replicated node for disaster recovery located offsite. The system supports more than 200 virtualized servers and desktops and significantly erased performance or latency issues. The virtualized systems include a maps database, all of the organization’s document imaging, file storage and two web servers dedicated to handling consumer traffic. The company’s most critical virtualized application is a meter data management solution which stores every consumer’s meter data – in real-time – and allows each household to track daily electricity usage and generate usage “forecasts” based on past behavior. Their outage management system is also virtualized, providing alerts and updates, while managing the information of members coping with power outages.

“Even during the initial stages of this deployment, it became very clear to Pee Dee Electric that the benefits of software-defined storage made just as much sense as virtualizing servers and desktops,” said Paul Murphy, vice president of worldwide marketing for DataCore. “They were able to get twice the amount of storage along with improved performance for the cost of one storage hardware array from EMC, while meeting or exceeding all of their availability and performance goals set at the beginning of the project.”

SANsymphony-V’s hardware independence enabled the company to reduce costs by virtualizing and therefore extending the life of their existing storage devices. This provided them with greater flexibility to make hardware purchasing decisions that align with business strategies and needs. Pee Dee Electric previously relied on an aging EMC hardware array, but as the company’s needs evolved from simply serving as a local file storage system and archive, the system proved to be much too slow. As a result of the organization’s server virtualization initiative, many tier-1, mission-critical databases and applications now demanded higher performance from their storage infrastructure in order to avoid delays in processing time.

A complete case study discussing the DataCore deployment at Pee Dee Electric Cooperative is available here: http://www.datacore.com/Testimonials/Pee-Dee-Electric-Cooperative.aspx.

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