Case Study: Overland Streamlines Data Storage System

So Blencowe decided to have a contest at Interstate. He asked each department at the Dallas-based company to delete unnecessary data. Two staffers from the department that deleted the most data would win tickets to the NASCAR race at the Texas Motor Speedway in March.

The timing for Blencowe's competition couldn't have been better. He had recently invited Merrill Likes, president of UpTime, an Edmond, Okla.-based solution provider, to install Overland SRM, a storage resource management application from Overland Storage.


>> COMPANY: UpTime
>> FOCUS: Data storage and backup

Problem & Solution: Interstate Batteries needed to better utilize its existing storage devices, so UpTime used an SRM application to free up some of the company's space.>> PRODUCTS & SERVICES USED: Overland SRM
• Consider using SRM to streamline existing storage space vs. purchasing more capacity.
• Not all storage capacity is the same. It's harder to save space with mission-critical databases than with file servers, but those databases could still be better managed.
• Get customer employees involved in problem-solving.

Using the software's Microsoft Exchange agent, Interstate scanned the company's networks. About a month later, after employees scrubbed their systems clean of unwanted files either by deleting them or moving them to tape, the networks were scanned yet again.

As it turns out, Blencowe would've liked to give prizes to the entire staff of Interstate, which was able to recover 20 percent of its file and print volume and save $105,000 by not purchasing new storage capacity, he said.

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While Interstate has a very good IT staff, the company found itself in the not-uncommon position of having difficulty keeping track of its storage resources,especially its file and print servers, Likes said. Database storage capacity tends to be more controlled and therefore easier to manage, he said.

That lack of control can quickly become a huge expense, Likes said. "When you have very expensive storage, as they do with EMC arrays, it becomes a [high-price proposition] to buy more," he said. "Plus, adding more capacity leads to increased management difficulties."

At Interstate, the data management problem had been building up for some time. The com-pany had total data storage capacity of close to 10 Tbytes on an EMC Symmetrix 3930 and an EMC Clariion 4500 and was not planning to retire the 4500 for a Clariion CX 600, Blencowe said. Those arrays are hooked up to about 40 Sun servers and 60 Windows servers. Four years ago, there were only 12 servers, he said.

For the battery company, SRM and server consolidation had become imperatives. Interstate had been looking at SRM for about two years and at one point had implemented an early version of Overland SRM to gather information about its storage resources, Blencowe said.

With Likes' help, Interstate implemented version 3.1 of Overland SRM. The installation went smoothly, and the software helped the customer gather data about storage use over time and understand its storage trends.

While the software was a big help in recovering wasted print and file server space, it was also essential for establishing storage-level thresholds,points at which Interstate would be alerted by the storage system that database capacity was being reached. "This is very critical. You can't throw away a database to make space," Likes said.

But you can throw away other files, Blencowe said. Before the contest, EMC was trying to sell Interstate more disks, he said. "But [they're like] 14K-gold trash cans," he said. "Like most [companies], we just kept dumping files to disk. ... and we were waiting to take out the trash. Now we can finally do it."

That's not to say Interstate has cut all storage purchases from its budget. The company's Exchange database continues to grow, and it still increases capacity in that area,just not for file and print services anymore, Likes said. "[Interstate] delays storage acquisition now for volatile areas, unless they add more people," he said.

Likes is currently helping Interstate implement the latest version of Overland SRM, and the solution provider is working with another Microsoft partner to help Interstate with Exchange and Active Directory migration.

As for those wondering who won Interstate's data-cleanup contest: Blencowe wouldn't disclose the winners' names, but he did say those individuals were in the company's executive department. "But the CxOs disqualified themselves, so the accounting group won," he said. "They had the most [data] to delete."