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Three enterprise users named Storage Innovator Award winners

Three enterprise storage users nab Storage Innovator awards. Upshot: They proved they could implement a highly efficient system.

If you've seen films like Goodfellas, Malcolm X and Silence of the Lambs, then you're familiar with the work of C5 Editorial. C5 has provided every footstep, door closing, dish clink, distant dog bark, cricket chirp and other sound effect in those and scores of other movies. In most cases, sound is dubbed into movies long after the filming is finished. Providing that sound is C5 Editorial's business.

But, it was the innovative way in which C5 was able to solve its mounting storage management problems that helped it snag a Storage Innovator Award from searchStorage and TechTarget, a Needham-based online publisher of computer industry specific websites.

C5 was one of three enterprise storage companies to be selected among more than 40 entries. Other winners included Daytona Beach Community College and National Travelers Life Co.

The Storage Innovator Awards were created to recognize excellence in the use of storage technology in medium and large-scale organizations. The awards were presented at Storage Decisions 2001 in Chicago on Sept. 26.

The entries were judged by a vendor-independent panel of storage experts and searchStorage editors.

Storage Management: Daytona Beach Community College

The winner in the ROI category, Daytona Beach Community College, Daytona Beach Fla., worked within a budget that most companies would consider extremely modest but was able to find a solution that met its budgetary requirements and provided the necessary capacity to manage future growth, said Paul Gillin, vice president of editorial for searchStorage and award coordinator.

"While limited by a small budget, they had a higher ROI requirement," he added. "Yet, by implementing storage network software, storage virtualization and management products, mostly provided by DataCore Software ? as well as leveraging existing legacy hardware -- the college met all its key goals for the project."

More importantly, the infrastructure enables the college to better support core business operations by tapping excess storage capacity from any system on the SAN and reallocating it to the department or application that needs it, said Gillin. It also eliminates the hidden cost of managing diverse and incompatible storage systems by unifying storage control under one simple interface. Other benefits: System downtime has been virtually eliminated and users actually noticed improved speed of data retrieval with the SAN.

"Daytona Beach Community College showed that its IT department innovatively and efficiently integrated its legacy hardware. The IT group demonstrated a very pragmatic sense of leadership and balanced the leading-edge with the highly-practical, ultimately delivering a high value solution," said judge Brad Callahan, vice president, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

SAN/NAS Implementation: C5 Editorial

C5 Editorial's innovative use of a storage area network has dramatically cut costs and boosted productivity at this New York-based firm. Prior to moving to two Gadzoox Networks Fibre Channel SAN switches, each of C5's more than 40 editors maintained a complete library of needed sounds and video on local hard drives of up to 18 GB each.

"If you can imagine it, editors used to synchronize their sound and video files by manually copying them from machine to machine," said Gillin. "It took hours each day and version management was a nightmare."

Now, C5 simply digitizes all that information to its SAN, and all the editors can now simultaneously access media off of the network. Version control is no longer a problem. Backup and recovery is a breeze. With 1.2 terabytes of data - recently doubled to almost 2.5 terabytes -- the company has ample storage capacity. And it estimates its ROI at over 10 times its investment for each film it works on. This was not a high-end, high-tech project, but it surely paid off well for this one company.

"C5 met our definition of the term "innovator," said judge Brenda Christensen, an independent storage consultant. "Here's a company that dealt with a serious data consistency problem by taking a chance on an advanced technology: storage area networks. The business results were immediate and dramatic, enabling C5 not only to improve productivity substantially, but to change its workflow as well."

ROI: National Travelers Life Company

National Travelers Life Company, West Des Moines, Iowa, was having an increasingly difficult time supporting the information requirements of the organization. For example, its nightly batch processing cycle began to take so long that it didn't always complete before the start of the next business day. Productivity suffered. "In one instance, employees were unable to log into the system for up to three hours while waiting for a tape backup to complete," said Gillin.

After extensive research, which included interviewing not only a variety of vendors, but customers who faced similar problems, the company implemented a storage area network solution, provided by Compaq Computer Corp., that has helped save up to six hours each night on its backup and batch processing operations. The SAN acts as a common storage pool for its Compaq and IBM servers, all running Microsoft Windows NT 4.0. The staff uses a SAN to execute a parallel backup strategy and to manage the SAN and allocate storage from a centralized workstation.

It now gets 6 to 8 hours of additional productivity per month from 100 employees. Now, it is running the backup and the batch cycle simultaneously and because of increased disk efficiency, jobs are completed about 30% faster.

"National Travelers Life Company proved that its implementation of an advanced technology, and the processes involved in implementing that technology, was worth every bit of the effort," said judge Randy Kerns, partner, The Evaluator Group. "It qualified over and over the effectiveness of that implementation most notably with an impressive increase in productivity and a substantial payback in terms of its investment."

Full profiles of the winners can be found in the Storage Innovators Newsletter beginning Oct. 17. (Registration necessary)

Related Links

Storage Innovator Case Studies

Storage Decisions 2001 Special Events Page

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