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Southern Co.: A Smarter Storage Strategy

Archiving has become the Atlanta-based utility's mantra.

So archiving has become the new mantra at Southern. The utility is now test-running an archival strategy based on Veritas Software Corp.'s Storage Migrator. Until now, Southern has archived its data by storing manual information on spreadsheets, for example, on an IT staffer's C:/ drive. But by instead aging off its data to archived tape, the utility expects to save 40 percent of its storage capacity.

"By simply archiving data that's used less frequently, we expect the backup-and-restore process to speed up by a factor of six," says Gail Commer, manager of enterprise storage at Southern. Backup has been a hot button at the highest levels of the organization for some time (see "The Hard Sell," below), and the archiving strategy was a natural next step.

Conservation Measures

It was the company's new policy to limit e-mail storage on its messaging servers and shared drives that finally drove Southern to build an archival system. Employees now must delete any e-mail that's not business-critical and use Outlook PST files sparingly to avoid bogging down Southern's storage.

"A lot of our data growth has been from users cleaning up their e-mail boxes because they're limited to a megabyte of storage for Exchange," Commer says. "One thing we want to stop is the storing of messages outside Exchange." That's because Southern can better control and retrieve business-critical messages if they're stored on the Exchange servers, she says.

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