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Epworth HealthCare is growing rapidly, and so is its data. But because it is one of Australia's largest not-for-profit healthcare providers, the company had to ensure fast failovers even with the information surge. Meanwhile, Canadian telco Vecima Networks was seeking a painless replacement for its HP PolyServe clustering software, which had reached end of life. Yet despite these different business problems, the two companies ended up in the same place.
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Epworth's growing data
Lance Ripps, infrastructure team lead at Epworth, said company servers were taking on more of the duty of handling clinical data, with new medical records reaching 10 TB per year. With vital information like medical records, Ripps can't afford to give his servers any downtime. He was looking for help with consolidation and high availability. To add to his problem, Ripps described Epworth's database environment as "thrown together," with an overly complicated clustered environment. Its heterogeneous server environment includes HP servers running Windows versions 2003 to 2008, HP OpenVMS storage, Microsoft SQL Server databases and over three hundred applications spread over two sites. So, the company needed something that could work on various platforms.
DH2i caught his attention because it promised extremely fast failovers. The Fort Collins, Colorado-based vendor is known for its DxConsole software, a server application virtualization program that can manage SQL Server instances in virtual environments. Don Boxley, CEO of DH2i, said that DxConsole is designed to provide high availability, consolidation and disaster recovery for SQL Server instances, regardless of whether a company is running physical, virtual or cloud-based servers. The software decouples the application instance from the server, providing access to it no matter where it is located.
Boxley stressed that DxConsole is "infrastructure agnostic," which is especially important to Epworth. The healthcare provider can now stack multiple SQL Server instances on a server and then move them from one server to another in five seconds. The company's main goals -- fast failover and less downtime to support a growing data footprint -- are still in the works. Epworth is in the middle of migrating to DxConsole, a process that started last year.
Vecima's Polyserve bind
Vecima Networks had a different goal in mind when it chose DxConsole. Vecima went looking for a new server application virtualization model because it had previously been running Polyserve, which was reaching end of life. Brian Gale, systems analyst at Vecima, was looking for a new system that was as similar to Polyserve as he could find, so as to minimize the learning curve.
"If you've used Polyserve, then DxConsole is really easy to set up and get running," Gale said. "The learning curve for it was really low." DxConsole is currently being marketed as a replacement for Polyserve.
Vecima's servers run an HP Blade system with four blades dedicated to SQL Server, all of which are running Windows 2008 R2. It also has virtual machines for testing. Machines running non-SQL Server instances are kept separate.
Like Ripps at Epworth, Vecima's Gale was looking for software that would allow him to keep SQL Servers in a cluster with rapid failover. He also wanted resource management and automatic email alerts for problems. DxConsole has both clustering and virtualization, which according to DH2i's Boxley, is "the best of both without the constraints of either." Consequently, Gale kept his SQL Server clusters, but added virtualization to improve failover.
Epworth and Vecima both plan to continue to use DxConsole.