LifeLink Streamlines With Riverbed

Hurricanes and software licensing issues drive LifeLink into the arms of Riverbed

June 23, 2007

3 Min Read
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Organ transplant specialist LifeLink is looking to save almost a quarter of a million dollars in software licensing costs over the next couple of years by deploying WAN optimization/file services gear.

The Tampa, Fla.-based non-profit organization, which recovers organs and tissues for transplants, has already deployed the Riverbed Steelhead appliances at two sites in Florida. LifeLink IT staff plan to roll the technology out to other facilities in the Southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean over the next 12 months. (See Riverbed Gets 2000 Customers and Riverbed Steps on SSL Gas.)

A number of vendors besides Riverbed, including Cisco, Expand, and Packeteer, are touting WAN optimization and WAFS products that let users boost network performance, while removing the need to keep servers and storage at remote sites. (See WAN Optimization Gone Wild, Cisco Acts on Actona, and Expand Gets $21M.)

LifeLink looked at products from Cisco and Tacit (now owned by Packeteer) before choosing Riverbed earlier this year. "A lot of them pretty much did the same thing, although we leaned towards Riverbed, because they were in the market longer," says John Lavelle, LifeLink's senior network administrator.

Another factor in LifeLink's decision was Riverbed's close relationship with iSCSI vendor EqualLogic. (See EqualLogic Enhances Program and EqualLogic: Thin Is In.) Last year, the vendors announced a partnership to integrate their two technologies, something which appealed to John Rhon, Lifelink's vice president of information services. "Riverbed came in as a company that had worked with EqualLogic in the iSCSI environment," he says, explaining that LifeLink has three EqualLogic SANs within its infrastructure.Rhon told Byte and Switch that the firm deployed a Steelhead 3020 at its headquarters and a 2020 device at a Tampa tissue bank back in February. This enabled the firm to consolidate four file-and-print, email, and application servers, opening the door to major cost savings, especially in the area of software licensing.

"We're looking at software savings of $100,000 per annum -- for example, were getting a single license for Exchange," says Rhon, explaining that server consolidation removes the need for multiple licenses. The firm is now planning to consolidate another five servers in Atlanta before rolling out Steelheads at five other locations in Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico.

The WAN optimization project wasn't only prompted by cost issues. "June 1st marks the beginning of the hurricane season -- this is part of making the disaster recovery possibilities better," explains Rhon. Steelhead deployment allows a main site to be made "hurricane" proof, as opposed to at-risk remote offices, which may not be as well protected -- or as purpose-built for IT.

LifeLink plans to extend its consolidation efforts to the EqualLogic SANs. iSCSI units will be moved from three locations to the non-profit's Tampa HQ in an effort to boost storage performance.

The transplant specialist is also examining the possibility of shifting its main data center from Tampa to Atlanta, in an attempt to escape the hurricane-ravaged Florida panhandle. "It's part of the overall disaster recovery plan," says Rhon, explaining that the first phases of this move could take place by next January.LifeLink would not reveal how much was paid for the new Steelhead appliances, though Rhon did confirm that he got a discount from the vendor and expects to see a six-month ROI.

Riverbed does not break out pricing for specific models, though pricing for the Steelhead appliances starts at $3,495, rising to $119,995 for a high-end device. The supplier's 2020s typically sell for around $19,500, with the 3020 priced in the region of $39,000.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • Expand Networks Inc.

  • Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD)

  • Tacit Networks Inc.

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