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Law Firm Builds A Case For SAN

For law firm Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, digitizing its reams of paper records was taxing its storage infrastructure. But solution provider Alliance Technology Group, Hanover, Md., stepped in to consolidate the firm's storage with a SAN that will enable its infrastructure to grow with its caseload.

The Baltimore-based law firm, with practices in medical malpractice, litigation, intellectual property and bankruptcy, was moving from a paper-based repository of exhibits, transcripts and depositions to one that was digital. As a result, its storage capacity has grown four- to sixfold in the past two years and is expected to double again next year, said Neil Cotherman, engineering manager at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston.

A little over a year ago, the firm was running about 35 Compaq and Hewlett-Packard servers, all of which used internal disk drives, with a few also directly connected to external storage arrays, Cotherman said. The firm knew it needed to expand its storage capabilities and was deciding between a SAN and a NAS. But predicting future storage needs was difficult.

"We can predict storage for the current systems we have. But every year, we get new projects, which make [future storage needs] hard to predict. That was especially the case when we started scanning in documents," Cotherman said.

To help the law firm plan the expansion of its storage system, Alliance installed Network Storage Analyzer (NSA), an application that collects statistics on all of a company's machines to show exactly how much storage a customer has and what it needs. "Instead of pulling a number out of the air, NSA gave them a look at what they needed," said Mark Stamper, senior storage consultant at Alliance.

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