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Elevator Company Takes Fibre Channel To The Top

When you're shipping a custom glass elevator to a client, the proper packaging and handling is everything.

And that helps to explain why customer service representatives at Minnesota Elevator Inc. needed quick access to digital photos stored on its disk drives for handling inquiries from their clients around the world. The custom elevator manufacturer photographs everything from brackets to the shipping crates being loading onto delivery trucks.

So if the glass elevator arrives cracked, the company can determine whether it was packaged properly and how it was damaged. Or if a part is missing, they can check whether it got packed with the shipment.

But Minnesota Elevator's customer reps couldn't get all of that data at their fingertips. The company's digital photos were eating up direct-attached storage device (DASD) capacity, so much of this data had to be moved to archived disks."We couldn't get enough storage online for them," said Mike Burns, director of information systems for the Mankato, Minn.-based maker of custom elevators. "If it was an older job, they had to dig out the CDs."

DASD wasn't sufficient for Minnesota Elevator's AutoCAD drawings, either. Each custom elevator has its own designs, and these drawings " which can be as large as 85 Mbytes per project -- don't get reused.

The company also generates detailed AutoCAD-based information packages on elevator orders for its architect clients. Minnesota Elevator's terabyte of CAD data is growing at about 35 percent a year, and its overall data storage, at about 50 percent a year, Burns said. Its SAN capacity grew from one to 3 Tbytes in the past nine months, mostly due to its growing CAD files.

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