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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 is one of the nation's largest banks and mortgage lenders. It faces a long list of challenges coping with the problems in the economy, the financial services arena, and real estate markets, many of which you can read about in the business sections of newspapers or hear about on the nightly news every day. And it has to incorporate the recently acquired Wachovia into its business structure. All of those factors make running an efficient IT infrastructure more important than ever, and upgrading and modernizing the company's storage infrastructure is a crucial ingredient in accomplishing that task.

A big part of that job falls on Scott Dillon, executive VP and head of technology infrastructure services at Wells Fargo, and he has developed a strategy that he describes as stabilization, standardization, and optimization. In a recent interview, he called storage "one of the top areas for us and a critical component of our infrastructure because it affects the customer experience."

Wells Fargo, with $1.3 trillion in assets, spends millions a year on storage and has more than 10 PB under management. Its IT infrastructure provide services to more than 11,000 branches, 12,000 ATMs, online and phone banking services as well as for investment, mortgage, insurance, finance, and other operations. Dillon didn't want to discuss specific vendors or provide a detailed description of the company IT infrastructure, other than to say it uses a lot of just about everything that is available. The company has a large SAN and uses a lot of NAS, and has centralized, as well as distributed, IT operations. Dillon called the storage infrastructure "very complex... and growing very fast."

Storage virtualization is one of the key technologies that Wells Fargo is counting on, but the company is taking a slow and steady approach. "By putting multiple storage devices behind a virtualization device we have the ability to improve availability and give people the right amount of storage," he says.

Virtualization and standards are crucial to bringing order to the chaos that currently characterizes the storage industry, which Dillon calls "fragmented. Some vendors are focused on providing end-to-end solutions with their logos on the products. We are more interested in vendors that are focusing their strategies around standards. We like the level of abstraction that we are starting to see come into storage products."

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