ATTO Turns Direct Attached Storage Into Storage Area Network, Saving Customer Tens of Thousands of Dollars

All Existing Hardware was Re-used with No Downtime

May 07, 2018

Imagine adding a cutting edge storage network to your current direct-attached server hardware. Imagine doing that in less than one afternoon and without taking the network down. Now imagine thanking yourself for saving tens of thousands of dollars because you used existing equipment with a few pieces of new hardware to improve performance, scalability and flexibility.

This isn’t an IT admin’s daydream, this is what ATTO Technology, Inc. has brought to the industry with ATTO XstreamCORE™ FC 7550 SAN storage controller. ATTO, a long-time leader and innovator of storage, network, and connectivity solutions has released details of a use case involving XstreamCORE and mega-contractor Torcon that could apply to any business with their own datacenter.

Torcon provides construction management and general contracting services to leading corporations and private institutions. They are one of the largest, and most active builders in the Mid-Atlantic States, as well as the premier construction management company in Puerto Rico. Torcon consistently ranks high on the Engineering News-Record “Top Contractors” list being 14th out of 65 by revenue in 2017. Torcon has a record of more than $4 billion in managed construction projects over the past decade.

Torcon’s datacenter had three hosts sharing a SAS RAID Array. Their expansion options were limited and the system was struggling to keep up with demands on its resources. Perhaps the most glaring issue was that the server hardware was only a few years old yet Torcon was already considering a full replacement.

ATTO converted Torcon’s existing direct-attached SAS environment to a Fibre Channel storage area network, which not only saved Torcon the expense of replacing their old hardware, it gave them a wide open path for future expansion. The hardware they were looking to replace will stay in service, completing its life-cycle and meeting ROI expectations.

Companies like Torcon choose ATTO products in order to provide flexibility for their existing storage and networking while giving them new options to add new flash or RAID storage," said Tom Kolniak, senior director of marketing for ATTO Technology.

ATTO develops for Windows®, Linux and Mac® environments, but it's our development efforts in VMware® environments that have given organizations new abilities and capabilities," Kolniak explained. "Virtualized infrastructures depend on system uptime and high performance not only during normal operation, but when migrating virtual machines between physical hosts. ATTO technology allows that to happen."

The added Fibre Channel SAN provided Torcon with a 16Gb/s shared storage network. This removed storage traffic from the bottlenecked LAN where all network and storage traffic had previously traveled together. By offloading this storage traffic from the LAN, users of Torcon virtual machines were able to immediately experience a faster, more robust LAN network as storage traffic now had its own path to the physical servers.

This boost to the entire system's performance, utilizing their existing servers and storage, eliminated the need to add new server hardware, CPUs or memory. This overall improvement not only saved tens of thousands of dollars in new hardware it also allows Torcon to make simple storage purchases to scale storage as they need to expand capacity. XstreamCORE allows Torcon's VMware® platform to flex its muscles.

The relevance of this use case by ATTO cannot be understated. There are untold numbers of converged infrastructures and multiple servers each connected to individual RAID arrays out in the field. The typical upgrade scenario is to rip out the old hardware and replace it at a substantial cost and downtime to install new hardware.

Using ATTO's solution, Torcon's existing equipment can finish the typical five-year hardware life-cycle. They could also stretch that life-cycle further, if needed, to plan and budget their next hardware upgrade appropriately.

ATTO XstreamCORE allows all of Torcon's current storage and server hardware to be re-used and when they do need to upgrade, a "hidden" cost-savings they no doubt will be thankful for when the time comes, is the ability to just add new storage or new server nodes without requiring a rip and replace.

The hardware ATTO used at Torcon were ATTO Celerity™ 16Gb dual port Fibre Channel host bus adapters and an ATTO XstreamCORE FC 7550 SAN storage controller. The latter is what ATTO calls "an accelerated protocol conversion appliance" which means it will allow Fibre Channel cards to talk to SAS/SATA RAID boxes with less than four microseconds of latency.

The ATTO XstreamCORE changes the game in server storage by being placed between the servers and storage and creating the network. The Fibre Channel cards are needed only on the servers to connect with the XstreamCORE. The storage connects via SAS/SATA and needs no additional controllers, initiators of any sort, or Fibre Channel cards. XstreamCORE handles the typical file serving duties, preserves existing software licenses and requires no additional software licensing.

In the case of Torcon the entire upgrade took less than three hours. Once XstreamCORE storage controllers and Fibre Channel HBAs were installed and the server powered up, datastores were immediately recognized on new paths. This process was repeated across all servers without having to bring the system down, allowing users to work as usual during the upgrade.

"XstreamCORE FC 7550 has allowed (us) the flexibility to expand our storage without having to completely re-architect the current setup," said Shawn Winters, Torcon director of technology. "It has provided a seamless migration path to newer all-flash vendor agnostic solutions and gave new life to hardware we would otherwise replace."

"Our live migration times and overall performance have improved as well by allowing more shared paths to the existing storage. XstreamCORE has opened many options we wouldn’t have considered prior to its deployment."

Want more?

Subscribe to our official newsletter ATTO Connections!

  • Receive the latest news from ATTO right in your inbox
  • Features industry profiles, ATTO developments and events, plus more
  • Simple email format for convenient, quick reading