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Cruising For A Bruising: Dell Sinks EMC

Carnival Cruise Lines has swapped out aging EMC Symmetrix storage (and Sun servers) for Dell EqualLogic SAN storage and PowerEdge servers, racking up savings of 7,000 hours per year for its shipboard IT staff. Symmetrix is a great platform, says Carnival's Doug Eney, VP of IS engineering, but it was time to upgrade and EMC's prices were too high. "We also looked at Clariion [servers], but didn't feel it was as resilient as we need. EqualLogic was able to meet our needs." Other storage companies that were evaluated included LeftHand, 3Par, NetApp and Compellent.

"We want to make sure things are smooth-sailing, and a calm IT environment aboard ship is critical," he says. "When something goes wrong at sea, you can't call on EMC or Dell technicians to fix it." Reliability and maintainability are essential, adds Eney, and everything is tested rigorously before it is put on ship.

Dell's storage arrays and servers have been deployed on the ships and Carnival's shore-side data center in Miami, Fla. The company has 22 cruise ships, 19 of which have been upgraded, with the remaining three due to be fitted out this year.

The time savings was only one of the benefits of the upgrade, says Eney. Carnival was able to reduce the number of servers--typically anywhere from 13 to 22 physical servers per ship--down to just two PowerEdge servers. Initially they deployed high-end four-socket PowerEdge R900 servers, but the workload could be supported on less-costly two-socket Dell platforms such as the PowerEdge R710, Eney says.

The proof of concept convinced the company that the EqualLogic PS6010XVS array--which hosts hot data on solid-state drives while pushing cold data, the least-used data, to the slower spinning disks--would save 60 to 80 percent compared with other high-end enterprise storage options under consideration.

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