Overland Storage® Snap Server® reduces costs and maximises productivity in data centre virtualisation project
OMNI Data purchased two Snap Server 520 storage systems to reduce costs and maximize productivity

OMNI Data, which is based in Woodbridge, CT, is a systems integration and IT fonsulting firm with a proven track record for delivering the most efficient, comprehensive and cost-effective solutions to their clients. The firm designs, builds, and supports IT networks to help their clients maximize productivity, while minimizing IT infrastructure.

OMNI Data is comprised of IT certified engineers and consultants from an array of technical disciplines. The company works with the client to determine their needs, then builds the solution that best addresses those needs. OMNI Data then works with hardware and software vendors to procure the right equipment to build an integrated solution.

The challenge

Like many successful companies, OMNI Data has experienced tremendous growth in their data center. Between their own data and that which the company hosts for its clients, their data center had ballooned to 16 racks containing 65 servers, plus storage units. The data center was housed in a 48x24 room, which was completely full. "Our data center was pushing capacity", explains Scott Sebastian, Director of Sales for OMNI Data. "We were at the point where we had to seriously consider moving to a larger facility so we would have enough space to house our data center."

In addition to their physical space crisis, OMNI Data wanted to build a more efficient system that would be less expensive to operate and maintain, while increasing overall uptime and reliability. They were also interested in building a system with inherent flexibility, to easily scale to meet their future needs.

The company determined that the only way to achieve all of these seemingly contrasting goals was to virtualise their data center. OMNI Data had long been known for recommending and implementing advanced technological solutions for their customers. Now it was time for them to implement such a solution for their own business. "We wanted to do it partly to reap some financial savings with power and cooling, but also make our own servers more manageable and flexible, explains Sebastian. "If we were going to start recommending this technology to our clients, we wanted to implement it on ourselves, first. This would not only solve our problems, but also become a model for us to show to our customers.

The virtualisation solution

Once all the needs had been assessed, the choice became remarkably clear. OMNI Data looked to Virtual Iron, the premier provider of enterprise-class software for creating and managing virtual infrastructure. Virtual Iron leverages industry standards, open source, and processors with built-in hardware assisted virtualisation to deliver open and economically attractive virtualisation alternative

OMNI Data had long been known for  implementing advanced technological solutions for their customers

s to existing, proprietary solutions.

Using Virtual Iron as the "brain" of their network infrastructure, OMNI Data partitioned five physical servers to produce 20 virtual servers as well as a virtual tape library. Each physical piece of hardware now behaved in every way as if it was multiple units. Windows 2003 was installed on some virtual servers, while Linux was installed on others.

The storage solution

OMNI Data realised that the hardware selection was a critical component to making the new system work. After all, if the physical server failed, four virtual servers would go down, thereby quadrupling the problem. With this in mind, OMNI Data set out to select and purchase the most reliable hardware they could find, in a price range that would not negate the cost savings promised by the virtualisation effort.

After careful consideration that included all the major storage providers, OMNI Data selected Overland's Snap Server. "It was a relatively easy decision", remembers Sebastian. "Snap Servers are known for their reliability and their sales and field engineers were uncommonly helpful. The moment we even hinted that we might need a bit of support, they got right on the phone to help."

OMNI Data purchased two Snap Server 520 storage systems. One Snap Server 520 was placed in the production environment, physically housed in the Data Center at OMNI Data headquarters. Using Virtual Iron software, the Snap Server 520 was then utilised for five physical servers and 20 virtual servers and attached to a virtual tape library.

The second Snap Server 520 was housed in an offsite OMNI Data facility containing a redundant Satellite/T1 Internet connection, physical servers (virtualised), and virtual desktops. Using Snap Enterprise Data Replicator™ (Snap EDR) software, all critical data would now be replicated between the two sites for complete redundancy, thereby providing business continuity in the case of a catastrophic event.

One Snap Server 520 was placed in the production environment, physically housed in the Data Center at OMNI Data headquarters


OMNI Data determined that the savings from the power and cooling alone were worth the migration. The migration enabled them to remove 2 racks containing 15 servers from their data center, saving the company valuable physical space, as well as operational costs. "Our engineers determined that the power and cooling, alone, saved us $20,000 per year", said Sebastian. "Additionally, the decrease in physical space requirements saved us from having to move our data center to a larger location, which would have come with significant immediate and recurring costs. As a side benefit, we were able to use our extra space to build a training center. In addition to serving our own training needs, we actually rent the space to others for an extra revenue stream."

With full redundancy with their servers and their SAN, OMNI Data also gained the ability to set up a new server in minutes instead of hours. The benefit of this configuration was further proven when their quote system went down, due to a power supply failure. "We transferred the system to another server, which allowed it to be up and running again in five minutes", remembers Sebastian. "In the past, this critical business system would have been down for a day or two."

Always looking to help their customers get the most out of their systems, OMNI Data uses their new system infrastructure as a working model to demonstrate the benefits of consolidation and proper data protection. "We've proven that it works, so we want our customers to reap the benefits of our experience", adds Sebastian.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security
Water Plant Attack Emphasizes Cyber’s Impact On Physical Security

At an Oldsmar, Fla., water treatment facility on Feb. 5, an operator watched a computer screen as someone remotely accessed the system monitoring the water supply and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. The chemical, also known as lye, is used in small concentrations to control acidity in the water. In larger concentrations, the compound is poisonous – the same corrosive chemical used to eat away at clogged drains. The impact of cybersecurity attacks The incident is the latest example of how cybersecurity attacks can translate into real-world, physical security consequences – even deadly ones.Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. The computer system was set up to allow remote access only to authorized users. The source of the unauthorized access is unknown. However, the attacker was only in the system for 3 to 5 minutes, and an operator corrected the concentration back to 100 parts per million soon after. It would have taken a day or more for contaminated water to enter the system. In the end, the city’s water supply was not affected. There were other safeguards in place that would have prevented contaminated water from entering the city’s water supply, which serves around 15,000 residents. The remote access used for the attack was disabled pending an investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. On Feb. 2, a compilation of breached usernames and passwords, known as COMB for “Compilation of Many Breaches,” was leaked online. COMB contains 3.2 billion unique email/password pairs. It was later discovered that the breach included the credentials for the Oldsmar water plant. Water plant attacks feared for years Cybersecurity attacks on small municipal water systems have been a concern among security professionals for years. Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the attempt to poison the water supply should be treated as a “matter of national security.” “The incident at the Oldsmar water treatment plant is a reminder that our nation’s critical infrastructure is continually at risk; not only from nation-state attackers, but also from malicious actors with unknown motives and goals,” comments Mieng Lim, VP of Product Management at Digital Defense Inc., a provider of vulnerability management and threat assessment solutions.The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online “Our dependency on critical infrastructure – power grids, utilities, water supplies, communications, financial services, emergency services, etc. – on a daily basis emphasizes the need to ensure the systems are defended against any adversary,” Mieng Lim adds. “Proactive security measures are crucial to safeguard critical infrastructure systems when perimeter defenses have been compromised or circumvented. We have to get back to the basics – re-evaluate and rebuild security protections from the ground up.” "This event reinforces the increasing need to authenticate not only users, but the devices and machine identities that are authorized to connect to an organization's network,” adds Chris Hickman, Chief Security Officer at digital identity security vendor Keyfactor. “If your only line of protection is user authentication, it will be compromised. It's not necessarily about who connects to the system, but what that user can access once they're inside. "If the network could have authenticated the validity of the device connecting to the network, the connection would have failed because hackers rarely have possession of authorized devices. This and other cases of hijacked user credentials can be limited or mitigated if devices are issued strong, crypto-derived, unique credentials like a digital certificate. In this case, it looks like the network had trust in the user credential but not in the validity of the device itself. Unfortunately, this kind of scenario is what can happen when zero trust is your end state, not your beginning point." “The attack on Oldsmar’s water treatment system shows how critical national infrastructure is increasingly becoming a target for hackers as organizations bring systems online for the first time as part of digital transformation projects,” says Gareth Williams, Vice President - Secure Communications & Information Systems, Thales UK. “While the move towards greater automation and connected switches and control systems brings unprecedented opportunities, it is not without risk, as anything that is brought online immediately becomes a target to be hacked.” Operational technology to mitigate attacks Williams advises organizations to approach Operational Technology as its own entity and put in place procedures that mitigate against the impact of an attack that could ultimately cost lives. This means understanding what is connected, who has access to it and what else might be at risk should that system be compromised, he says. “Once that is established, they can secure access through protocols like access management and fail-safe systems.”  “The cyberattack against the water supply in Oldsmar should come as a wakeup call,” says Saryu Nayyar, CEO, Gurucul.  “Cybersecurity professionals have been talking about infrastructure vulnerabilities for years, detailing the potential for attacks like this, and this is a near perfect example of what we have been warning about,” she says.  Although this attack was not successful, there is little doubt a skilled attacker could execute a similar infrastructure attack with more destructive results, says Nayyar. Organizations tasked with operating and protecting critical public infrastructure must assume the worst and take more serious measures to protect their environments, she advises. Fortunately, there were backup systems in place in Oldsmar. What could have been a tragedy instead became a cautionary tale. Both physical security and cybersecurity professionals should pay attention.

What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?
What Are The Positive And Negative Effects Of COVID-19 To Security?

The COVID-19 global pandemic had a life-changing impact on all of us in 2020, including a multi-faceted jolt on the physical security industry. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now see more clearly the exact nature and extent of that impact. And it’s not over yet: The pandemic will continue to be top-of-mind in 2021. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What have been the positive and negative effects of Covid-19 on the physical security industry in 2020? What impact will it have on 2021?

Expert Roundup: Healthy Buildings, Blockchain, AI, Skilled Workers, And More
Expert Roundup: Healthy Buildings, Blockchain, AI, Skilled Workers, And More

Our Expert Panel Roundtable is an opinionated group. However, for a variety of reasons, we are sometimes guilty of not publishing their musings in a timely manner. At the end of 2020, we came across several interesting comments among those that were previously unpublished. Following is a catch-all collection of those responses, addressing some of the most current and important issues in the security marketplace in 2021.