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City of Richmond

Virtualization may be a mystery to many organizations. (See Virtually Nowhere.) But at least one U.S. city is pleased with its initial foray into the technology. The IT team for the City of Richmond, Virginia says they've not only consolidated storage and servers with a SAN Volume Controller (SVC) from IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), but they've opened up future possibilities for streamlining IT.

"We're virtualizing everything. We've significantly increased storage utilization, from about 40 percent to about 80 percent," says Steve Forstner, IT manager for systems engineering for the city.

Richmond's network has two IBM SVC boxes (one for redundancy) placed between its 130-odd servers and its storage devices, which include a pair of Clariion CX300s and a CX400 array from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), as well as a DS4300 disk system and an ESS "Shark" Model 800 from IBM. The SVC virtualizes all server storage for regular processing, and the team uses it for snapshots and backup. Gradually, they're phasing out all servers with hard drives.

"This puts us in a position to look at things like blade servers, clustering, and SAN file systems," Forstner says.

His team looked for a virtualization device about a year ago, when they found some servers overloaded on the city's network, while others had storage to spare. "There was no easy way to allocate that unused storage," says Lyle Gleason, lead systems engineer.

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