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Benchmark Energy Products

When it comes to IT in the fast-paced energy business, there's not a lot of room for error -- particularly when it comes to storing key information. Any technology that can help is worth considering.

Ask Steve Collins, IT administrator for Houston-based Benchmark Energy Products. His company manufactures and sells chemicals that oil drilling companies use to do "frac jobs" -- the process of fracturing oil wells so the black gooey stuff will flow. Without the chemicals, there's often no oil. And without the right data, there are no chemicals.

"The oil industry is time-sensitive," Collins says. "Our industry goes back to the Texas wildcat operations where you have to move fast. There's always a deadline. A small frac job could be worth $100,000. Our chemicals are a small part of that, but they have to be there or it won't work. If you miss a deadline, it's a big deal."

Last year, Collins went looking for a couple of SANs to protect his company's mission-critical applications, including email, collaborative software, databases storing orders and deliveries, and information on the types of chemicals needed for specific jobs. Reliability was key: Lost data can prevent Benchmark from filling orders and delivering products, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Collins says he wanted Benchmark's first SAN to be one he could set up quickly and manage easily. A reseller suggested an EqualLogic iSCSI SAN. "A light bulb went off," he says. "I looked at iSCSI three years ago when it was an emerging technology. I was sold on the concept, but it was a lot of work back then to make it work.

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