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Not Everyone Needs a Shrink

CHICAGO -- While hardware consolidation is a popular theme in marketing brochures, a panel at the DataComm Enterprise Conference today agreed consolidation is often not an option in reality as information becomes increasingly distributed. (See Clark County, Nev., Kane County Consolidates, and Consolidation's Downsides.)

Users on a panel titled "The Data Center Today and Tomorrow" weighed the benefits of consolidating hardware to reduce costs and improve management against the need to support data spread remotely across a wide range of devices.

Arlene Yetnikoff, director of information security at DePaul University, says it is difficult for universities to consolidate because they serve many user groups -- such as students, faculty, visitors, and distance learners.

"I'm not saying you shouldn't have a strong centrally controlled environment, but universities have never been able to rely on a storage perimeter because we have many perimeters," she explains. "The availability of data is what's important. Where it lives should not be as important to users. It's our job to make sure data is available where the user is."

Even though his organization is quite different than Yetnikoff's, Willie Cumming, director of IT for Strome Group in Santa Monica, Calif., agreed. While DePaul has more than 24,000 students alone, Cumming's investment advisory firm has just 50 employees -- albeit ones with heavy data requirements.

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