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Alliance Systems

As a server manufacturer, Dallas-based Alliance Systems finds itself with cheap and easy access to servers and software licenses.

And that was the problem for systems administrator Darren McDonald. He watched Alliance go from 25 servers when he arrived in late 2003 to 40 servers six months later. The setup encompassed 3 Tbytes of direct attached storage, and managing it became a pain.

"Every server had a dedicated application it was supporting... We realized we need a lot more storage than we thought."

Alliance did have a small Adaptec Fibre Channel SAN, but that didn't solve problems caused by server sprawl. Last summer, McDonald went shopping for a larger SAN with plans of virtualizing storage and servers.

"First, one of our VARs brought us a large HP [EVA] SAN," he says. "When we saw the price tag, we almost fell over. We heard about NetApp filers, they're simple to install, simple to upkeep and maintain, but the price tag was still up there."

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