Customer challenge

The German Army needs the ability to take military-grade, highly available storage with them anywhere that field units go, in order to enable the operations and communications it needs to execute its missions. In order to accomplish this the Army purchased and deployed SvSAN which they said was the only solution in the market that fitted their needs. Results since implementation have been outstanding.

The IT virtual infrastructure challenge

The National Army of Germany has to be able to operate anywhere at any time to ensure the security and protect the interests of the country. Accordingly, it recently launched a project to build a military-grade IT infrastructure that can deliver superior service any time, any place. The storage must:

  • Enable and support the Army’s initiative to virtualize its entire infrastructure, so that it uses little to no actual physical space in the field
  • Be able to move from place to place and operate on its own anywhere in the world at any given time
  • Be free of excess weight
  • Operate on only the power that Army units take with them into the field
  • Be easy to deploy and manage, especially for IT-skilled soldiers with little to no experience in storage
  • Most importantly, it must be highly available with no single points of failure to enable the Army to communicate and operate without interruption in the field

The StorMagic solution – and the ROI it delivers

After a thorough review, SvSAN was selected by the German Army and implemented across the entire footprint of the organization. SvSAN, a software solution that delivers a virtualized shared storage platform from just two servers, enables organizations to eliminate downtime and ensure high availability of critical applications at remote sites where disruptions directly equate to a loss in service. In the case of the German Army, SvSAN delivers shared storage for each field unit’s IT cluster, which runs on VMware ESXi server hypervisors. SvSAN also supports the Army’s secure networking, monitoring, communications and other infrastructure operations, and up to 1,000 users per cluster – all from the shared storage pool.

Other storage vendors and solutions were considered, but were quickly dismissed in favor of SvSAN and StorMagic. SvSAN was the only solution that fit all the Army’s requirements, particularly the ability to support a virtualized infrastructure without a single point of failure.

“Quite simply, SvSAN is the only solution in the market that satisfies all of the requirements we have for our storage infrastructure – namely high-availability, no single point of failure and ease of management and deployment.” – Bernd Maier, IT Consultant, Blackned

In the time since deployment, the Army has realized several benefits:

  1. Simplified hardware – Because it’s a software-only solution that leverages internal server storage, SvSAN enables a two-server and no-SAN environment. As a result, it’s as portable as storage can possibly be, and it minimizes capital and operating expenses. Also, if a server goes down, IT service continues without interruption; field units previously went without their IT operations – and suffered from inefficiencies for up to an entire week until replacement parts could be deployed. For the Army, this ability to support its infrastructure with just two servers that can manage the entire cluster by themselves is the single biggest benefit that SvSAN delivers.
  2. True high availability – With SvSAN, as a result of that simplified hardware, data storage is highly available anywhere – including the remote and harsh environments in which the Army has to operate on a regular basis. This is accomplished through synchronously mirroring virtual machines to the other server in the environment to ensure seamless operations if one server goes down and eliminating single points of failure commonly encountered with legacy SAN solutions or other storage infrastructures. This ability to function and communicate properly in the field may literally make the difference between mission success and failure, or maybe even life and death.
  3. Centralized IT – As a software solution, SvSAN’s industry-standard management interface allows SvSANs across distributed sites to be managed, provisioned and maintained remotely from a single-pane-of-glass interface at a central location. This has been especially useful for the Army; because IT administrators in the field are limited and not experienced with storage, it’s unlikely that anyone on location at any given time would be able to manage and use the solution properly.
  4. Ease of deployment – SvSAN is installed, set up and configured at the Army’s central IT site at headquarters, so that administrators in the field only have to turn the system on and bring it online for it to be working properly. The entire field deployment process takes about 15 minutes, and it’s simple enough for soldiers with little to no storage experience to execute on. This ease of deployment helps Army units operate and achieve efficiencies quickly.

The German Army started deploying SvSAN in 2012, and has 21 clusters (each with two SvSAN hosts) running in production as of the summer of 2014.