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SD '04: Users list storage priorities

Tiered storage, disaster recovery and reducing the number of suppliers to deal with were the top concerns for many users at Storage Decisions.

CHICAGO -- Tiered storage, disaster recovery and reducing the number of suppliers to deal with were the top concerns for many users at Storage Decisions.

Richard Candor, business continuity manager at Capital One Services Inc., is working on storage consolidation and business continuity at a global level. He's exploring how to build and architect storage networks and data centers in China, Korea and other Asian countries with the ability to collapse these systems easily if a disaster strikes. "I want to know, if the economies in those countries collapse, how to bring everything home without losing money," he said. A tall order, but one that he hopes a utility model and consolidation of the firm's current data centers will address.

Another company focused on disaster recovery and business continuity is Sprint Corp., which has a large number of storage systems coming off lease this year. "We are well positioned to really transform our environment," said Lynn Neal, senior systems integrator at Sprint. As part of its DR plan, Sprint is looking to add SATA arrays, archiving and SRM tools into its environment. "Our priority is working out what we've got out there already, and then we don't plan to automatically replace high-end systems with high-end systems," she said.

Along the same lines, Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL), which provides electricity to about 440,000 residential and business customers, is checking out EMC Corp. Clariion arrays as part of a tiered storage strategy. Currently, the company has 6 TB of capacity on Symmetrix arrays. "ILM sounds like it might be good if it really saves us money," quipped Bruce Burgdoff, senior operating systems manager at IPL.

Reducing suppliers

The notion of sweeping the floor to try and cut down on the number of suppliers to deal with was high on the list among users. United Airlines storage architect Gary Pilafas is consolidating his SAN equipment from multiple Brocade Communications Systems Inc. edge switches to just a few directors from CNT. "If I can have eight appliances instead of 16, that's less maintenance and less cost," he said. "Anywhere we can collapse and simplify is good." Right now, he's going through an RFP with EMC and Hitachi Data Systems with the goal of picking just one of them. The airline has about 200 TB on HDS arrays and 100 TB on EMC equipment.

Likewise, Ahold Information Services is a big believer in operating a homogenous environment. "We're an IBM shop, so everything we look at needs to work with IBM or we won't use it," said Christine Collins, senior manager, enterprise computing architecture at Ahold. The company has just recently begun deploying Cisco Systems Inc.'s MDS switches running IBM's SVC (SAN Volume Controller) blade.

Cisco might be new to the storage market, but it's clearly making inroads. The Northern Trust Co. is in the middle of testing Cisco and McData Corp. iSCSI switches to connect its branch offices to its central office using FCIP (Fibre Channel over IP). Right now, the branches work as autonomous businesses, performing all their backup locally to tape. Northern Trust is looking at FCIP to dramatically lower these costs. So far, the firm isn't convinced by McData's IP strategy. "They acquired Nishan Systems, but they don't seem to have a clear direction of where they're going," said Val Gorjaczew, VP of storage management at Northern Trust. If Cisco's iSCSI offering wins the test, it looks like McData's entrenched position at this company could be in jeopardy.

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