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Southwestern Michigan College Enlists Help of Cloud Storage Provider StorSimple


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October 20, 2011

Southwestern Michigan College Enlists Help of Cloud Storage Provider StorSimple

By Carrie Schmelkin, TMCnet Web Editor

It seems that everyone from SMBs to enterprises are hopping aboard the cloud storage bandwagon and large universities seem to be the latest group to catch cloud storage fever.

Recently, Southwestern Michigan College –a school that is spread over two campuses in Dowagiac and Niles Michigan – turned to hybrid cloud storage provider StorSimple to see if it could help provide the school with robust Disaster Recovery (DR). After evaluating the StorSimple system, it became clear to university officials that StorSimple could do much more than just DR for Southwestern Michigan College.

“Southwestern Michigan College initially started looking at cloud storage for DR,” Don Magee, systems architect at Southwestern Michigan College, shared in a recent customer case study. “After evaluating the system, it now has three StorSimple appliances that manage the entire VMware environment for primary, archival, backup and offsite DR. Other key uses are supporting users’ home directories and departmental home directories across both campuses for the rapidly growing student base. There is a new and growing Virtual Desktop program using Pano Logic (News - Alert) and StorSimple.”

By deploying StorSimple’s cloud storage solution, Southwestern Michigan College was able to address issues surrounding security, performance and applications. Prior to deploying StorSimple, the college was using Fiber Channel. With StorSimple’s iSCSI support, VMs could be simply migrated in a VMware Ready certified way with increased performance due to the working set management and automatic tiering, according to school officials.

Moreover, before any data is written to the cloud it is deduplicated, compressed and encoded with AES-256 encryption military grade encryption, which addressed Southwestern Michigan College’s security requirements.

When asked why Southwestern Michigan College selected StorSimple out of all of the cloud storage providers out there, Magee said, “StorSimple has great support 24*7. We called them at midnight on a Friday night and had a response in five minutes. When we had a major storage issues with our VMware systems we were able to migrate the VM’s to StorSimple to offer continued service. Those VM’s are now permanently on StorSimple.”

Further, now Southwestern Michigan College’s environment is almost 85 percent virtualized. Virtualized applications include: Active Directory, Novell (News - Alert) Authentication (being migrated to Active Directory), Web Server, Print Server, File Server, Classrooms and ERP. The environment also uses four vSphere servers, VMware and vCenter.

“The primary lesson learned is don’t be afraid of the cloud and losing control,” Magee said. “The reality is with both local and automatically tiered cloud storage you get control, high performance and high-availability. In addition with instant thin provision of large volumes migration problems go away. Primary deduplication can dramatically reduce VMware storage requirements.”

Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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