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Go Your Own Way

A major research center eschews blade servers and virtualization. A government contractor opts out of Fibre Channel SANs. A bank ditches online backup services in favor of doing its own backup, using the former outsourcer's software.

Each of the above is a case study highlighted in recent storage networking news. (See USC's Cluster Buster, Insider: Spend Wisely on Backup, and Bechtel National.) In each instance, conventional wisdom and marketing trends were bypassed in favor of solutions that may have been less fashionable, even quirky, but that succeeded for each organization.

Everyone knows storage networking is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. But product innovation doesn't always spell forward progress for every shop.

When the University of Southern California was looking to increase the processing power of its 150-Tbyte cluster, it increased the number of servers from 256 to 360 just over 40 percent. Blade server marketeers may decry this as a needless increase in data center bulk. But the research center tripled the processing power of each server and managed a 50 percent uptick in overall cluster performance.

Not just that, but USC personnel believe they saved on capital and operational costs. According to USC's CTO Jim Pepin, his group has seen blade server prices mostly higher than the cost of single-rack-unit servers. What's more, blade servers generate more heat than rackmount ones.

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