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Storage | News

Florida District Accelerates SQL Server Apps for Online Testing

Collier County Public Schools in Florida has replaced its traditional disk-based storage area network (SAN) equipment with flash memory arrays that speed up its SQL Server applications while reducing costs.

The large school district maintains a Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse to support its quarterly online standardized testing program for all 45,000 students. After implementing the online assessments a year ago, the district began experiencing severe latency issues with its high-end SAN equipment. In its search for a more efficient, cost-effective storage solution, the IT department evaluated a number of vendors before deciding on flash-based storage arrays from Violin Memory.

The district implemented two Violin 6232 arrays for its Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise database and two Violin 3210 arrays, one to use as write cache for Citrix XenDesktop streaming, and one to use in conjunction with the 6232 arrays for replication of critical data.

The Violin 6000 and 3000 series arrays have a large capacity and small footprint, and the district's IT department has been impressed with their performance and ease of management. The team found that the Violin solution could effectively shape peak loads and had no problem keeping up with sustained random read and write transactions. According to the company, the Violin 6000 and 3000 series arrays have solved the district's latency issues and will meet its growing storage needs for years to come.

Collier's IT team received immediate positive feedback from faculty, staff, and students. “We migrated one application to the Violin array on a Saturday, and on Monday some of our users were already asking, ‘Hey what did you do to the application?'," said a member of the district's IT team in a prepared statement. "It wasn’t slow before — the old devices were Tier-1 storage — but they noticed a significant performance improvement.”

The new solution has also helped the district shrink its storage footprint and cut costs. It has reduced its storage from pools of 50 to 60 disks to less than a single rack of space, consequently cutting its power and cooling costs. The Violin system has also eliminated the need to overprovision server hardware and software licenses, saving the district about $200,000 in hardware by enabling the team to purchase smaller servers and consolidate SQL Server instances.

Further information about the Violin 6000 and 3000 series flash memory arrays can be found at Violin Memory's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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