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The new data center, situated on a wooded site that's part of a larger advanced research park Clemson is building a few miles from the main campus, was still under construction and only partially operational when Storage visited. The centerpiece of the data center is the new network operations center (NOC). A far cry from the typical crowded NOC buried in a cramped basement and crammed with mismatched monitors and rejects at their final stop before the dump, the new glass-walled Clemson NOC is roomy, sparkling clean and features a row of workstations in front of a full wall of vivid, large-screen flat displays. Colorful graphics show the status of systems and networks, while a continuous CNN video feed demonstrates that the Internet connection is up and running.

Change management
As welcome as many of these changes are, they still upset well-established routines. Wilson and Cannon addressed training and change management from the outset. "We had a lot of independent silos," says Cannon. "People didn't talk much. In many cases we were asking people to learn new skills." Pepin's idea of the storage condo made of LCAs connected by switches was new to everybody.

Change management revolved primarily around meetings in which Cannon would explain what was happening and how the team would proceed. "We were going to more meetings, but now things were getting done," says one team

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member. But resistance was expected. "We have some EMC users who need to be sold away from EMC," says Cannon. "They need to learn new skills and need new documentation."

To keep everyone up to date, Cannon created a wiki that contains the provisioning and configuration documentation of all the storage. Every team member goes to the wiki first whenever they have to do something with the storage and whenever they change something. Click on any component and the team member can drill down to more detail. "This lets us logically build the array. We don't even have to be here physically to do the work. We can do this over the network," says Cannon. A separate hardware group handles whatever actual physical work is required.

This was first published in January 2008

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