Technology Partners vSAN

ROI Networks vPack: A Hyper-Converged Solution with Virtual SAN for Unified Communications & VDI

ROI Networks is a systems integrator focused on the delivery of business collaboration solutions that enable customers to optimize enterprise communication regardless of deployment model, network, or device utilized for each interaction. These solutions include the underlying network infrastructure, virtualization, cloud, communications, audio, video, web conferencing and contact center components. Regardless whether employees work in the office, telecommute or are highly mobile, ROI Networks empowers customers via their device of choice to improve productivity and serve their customers beyond compare.

 


Industry Background

In the last several years, the telecommunications industry has experienced a rapid transformation of traditional communications systems due to virtualization. “You won’t find a phone system hanging on the wall anymore in a new enterprise deployment,” said Ryan Anderson, Vice President of Operations at ROI Networks. The transformation is very similar, but faster, than the evolution from TDM to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Although server and application virtualization have been around for a decade, only recently have manufacturers become comfortable enough in the maturation of virtualization to deploy real-time communications on this infrastructure. With so much riding on the success of this transformation, ROI Networks trusted VMware’s industry leading maturity, reliability, and support to virtualize their infrastructure.

 

ROIngage vPack

Many traditional UC Integrators were caught off-guard by the speed of the convergence of real-time applications into virtualization. “We began building our Infrastructure & Virtualization Practice several years ago anticipating the changing landscape,” explained Anderson. ROI Networks partnered with Arrow OEM for distribution, Avaya for collaboration applications, and VMware for virtualization and storage. When ROI initially researched reference architectures, Storage Area Networks (SANs) were still the ‘tried and true’ deployment model for storage and the model they initially chose for testing. However, right before purchasing all of the equipment for their Proof of Concept, VMware released a Beta version of Virtual SAN 5.5.

After researching Virtual SAN and the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC), ROI Networks quickly understood the benefits of the technology and switched their storage model to Virtual SAN (despite it being an emerging technology). ROI saw the value of not having to purchase, implement and maintain another piece of infrastructure for storage. For example, ROI’s converged solutions leveraging Virtual SAN technology deliver, on average, 20% 5-year TCO savings versus traditional SAN technology. Additionally, ROI liked the elasticity and scalability of Virtual SAN: customers would no longer be locked into finite storage capacity dictated by the SAN or incur expensive forklift upgrades to the chassis they originally purchased. To scale with Virtual SAN, ROI customers have the option of scaling out by adding additional nodes to their cluster or scaling up by adding additional storage to existing hosts. This model presents great value to customers, allowing the solution to grow with their needs in a linear fashion.

Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM) was another aspect of vSphere and Virtual SAN that delivered value. “With vSphere Profile-Driven Storage, deployment times were dramatically reduced because it was built right into the hypervisor and it allowed our UC engineers to focus on the application deployments rather than wrestle with the underlying infrastructure or customer SAN,” said Anderson.

Jon Hopp, Manager of Infrastructure Practice at ROI Networks, also saw the benefits of SPBM. “We found significant value and lessons learned by testing specific server and network configurations in our lab,” said Hopp. From a macro viewpoint, real-time communication workloads demand unique design requirements and are atypical from traditional deployments. That’s where the value of ROI’s expertise is provided – with extensive research and testing – to deliver virtual infrastructures specially designed with real-time communications in mind. With this knowledge, ROI has been able to brand a turnkey solution for customers called vPack within the ROIngage product family, delivering rock solid performance for customers.

For example, most server and application designs place an emphasis on storage and memory capacity but run light on processors. Real-time communication environments have a high demand for vCPUs, but typically require 50% less memory and storage. ROI’s solutions leverage this understanding, delivering no less or more than what is required while implementing a scalable infrastructure.

ROI also modifies servers based on VMware’s low latency best practices to optimize real-time communication performance. “We also tested different RAID controllers and identified that Virtual SAN works best with specific ‘pass-through’ RAID controllers to enable hot-swappable, magnetic drives for expedited servicing of failed disks,” said Hopp. Additionally, the size and speed of magnetic disks were tested in conjunction with VMware’s concept of Disk Groups to zero-in on the most effective use relative to the number of nodes and drives in each cluster, which was imperative for solid I/O and node failure performance.

With the knowledge ROI learned about designing and testing real-time communication clusters, it was a natural progression to extend their capabilities to VDI. “The design considerations are more traditional in nature, however, the same principles still apply to I/O and Node failure design,” said Hopp.

 

VMware Virtual SAN’s performance, scalability, and simplicity enabled ROI Networks to deliver customers real-time communication solutions that exceeded their business and technical requirements. Click here to learn more about ROI vPack solution.

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