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AQR Capital Management

Not all SMBs are mom and pop shops with simple storage needs and lack of technical expertise.

With 100 employees, Greenwich, Conn.-based AQR Capital Management falls into the category of an SMB, but the investment management firm has no use for "simple SANs" or de-featured products designed for department use. AQR oversees around $20 billion in customers' assets, making for a lot of mission-critical data.

"We're small in numbers, but our mission-critical systems are big in data," says Jerry Levine, AQR's VP of IT. "It's very different than working for a manufacturing firm of 100 people."

After the power blackout that took down much of the northeast in 2003, AQR set out to build a disaster recovery site. At the time, the company consisted of around 35 people with 20 servers but no SAN. Levine decided AQR could do DR a lot better with a SAN than with data scattered on servers.

AQR settled on EMC Clariion after checking out midrange systems from EMC, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM - but not EMC's entry-level AX or even its lowest end CX system. Instead, AQR installed three CX700s -- the highest end of EMC's midrange family. The firm uses three Cisco MDS9216i switches to connect them. (See Cisco Readies Multiprotocol Switch.)

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