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Safety Services Firm Strengthens SAN

Fire and safety services provider Fire Materials Group spent millions over the past two years to turn a fledgling IT infrastructure into a "fire proof" data center.

Tempe, Ariz.-based Fire Materials Group offers services that ensure its clients' sprinkler systems, alarms, and fire extinguishers are regularly inspected and comply with governmental regulations. Its data center also services TVA Fire and Life Safety, a San Diego-based consulting and engineering firm spun out of FMG in 2001.

Fire Materials' data availability is crucial because it is contractually obligated to respond to any failure in a customer's safety system within four hours. According to CIO Charles Brown, the company deals mostly with Fortune 500 firms specializing in what he calls "big box retail" -- department and home furnishing stores. It services nearly 37,000 locations spread throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Latin America.

But Brown says when he arrived at Fire Materials, its IT infrastructure was hardly adequate for the task. There was no redundancy, one data center, and no functional networked storage.

"When I joined in March 2004, our IT director had a desk in a closet, four servers, and about 400 gigs of storage capacity," Brown says.

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