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Hospital Baptizes SAN on Optical

It took Baptist Health, a not-for-profit health care organization in Montgomery, Ala., seven months to get its disaster-recovery network in place -- but now that the project is finished, it's fully prepared to remain up and running, even if one of its sites is completely destroyed.

About a year ago, the group installed Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) OPTera Metro 5200 DWDM (dense wave division multiplexing) equipment to link two EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) Symmetrix 8730s in its two primary data center sites over dark fiber. The Nortel OPTera and Symmetrix arrays are connected at each of the sites via two Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) 16-port 1-Gbit/s SilkWorm 2800 switches. The aim was to provide synchronous data mirroring between the two sites, which are 11 miles apart, to ensure data would be protected in case of a disaster.

But the process of getting the technology to all work together was... oh, we can't help it... kind of a baptism by fire.

"This solution had been tested by EMC for both the Brocade and Nortel gear, but, well, it hadn't been done in real life," says David Billingsley, the organization's chief technical architect. "It was very hard to find a reference site."

No significant technical glitches cropped up, he says. Rather, it was more a matter of "getting the terms defined among the three vendors... it was a knowledge-base issue, not a technical issue."

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