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Wells Fargo's Storage Strategy

The financial services firm sums up its storage plans with three words: stabilization, standardization, and optimization

Wells Fargo analyzes new and innovative storage technologies, but doesn't rush to deploy them in its production environment. He called Fibre Channel over Ethernet "very intriguing. We have it in the labs and the simplicity it brings to the IT environment is appealing. But it will take a long time before we deploy it in our infrastructure." Solid-state storage is another one that is "very interesting on many, many fronts. But it will take a lot of maturation before it's production ready." He also sees promise in data de-duplication and compression, but thinks those technologies need to mature and become more robust before there will be widespread adoption.

The key for large enterprise IT infrastructures in general, and storage in particular, is to understand where the technology is heading, understand where the business is heading, and then develop a plan to make the best use of technology to serve the needs of the business. "Where most organizations make a mistake is to try to provide an optimized solution with new technology when the technology is in its early stages," he says. "You have to be thoughtful in the migration."

Wells Fargo is still working to better understand how storage virtualization operates and how to best deploy and monitor it over the long term. The long-range goal is to turn storage into a tiered service that can be offered to business units in a standardized manner. "We want to give business decision makers options, and some may want to take advantage of the low costs of Tier 3 storage. One of the nice things about the level of abstraction that virtualization provides is that we can dynamically move an application from Tier 1 to Tier 3 or back very quickly depending on needs," he says.

Dillon takes some pride in the fact that Wells Fargo's storage utilization rate is "north of 40 percent" while estimates put the industry average at around 25 percent. "Our goal is to continue to drive that up," he says.

The big conflict in storage is between the demands of customers for more standardization and commoditization and the desire of vendors to avoid the competition and low margins that result from those trends. Storage vendors saw what happened in the server and PC markets and will resist those developments in storage as long as they can.

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