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Safeco Slaps In iSCSI

While iSCSI may seem to have slipped into a vegetative state, pockets of IP SAN deployments indicate that the technology could potentially find a broad audience -- if only more storage suppliers moved to adopt it.

Insurance company Safeco Corp.'s Financial Institution Solutions (FIS) division, for example, late last year put in an iSCSI-based SAN for its custom optical-character recognition (OCR) application, which automates the image capture of insurance claim forms, converting each one into a TIF image file of around 50K.

In October, after Safeco FIS acquired a large new client, the division's the IT group made the unpleasant discovery that it was about to run out of capacity on its direct-attached storage RAID arrays. "We were only at 30 percent capacity -- but it jumped tremendously when we acquired the new client," recalls Joe Stocker, network coordinator for the division, based in Santa Ana, Calif.

In fact, Safeco FIS, which processes millions of insurance claims each year, had about 30 days before its approximately half-terabyte of Compaq DAS disk was going to fill up. "We were at 95 percent utilization," says Stocker. Egad.

So in November 2002, Stocker quickly mobilized his team to figure out a solution. They considered various options, including installing a NAS filer, before settling on an IP SAN.

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