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Scrunchable Storage

5:50 PM -- Options for reducing the profile of stored data at rest or in motion are multiplying like rabbits.

There's compression, for instance, which can reduce the amount of data you put on storage arrays -- and for which there are a range of different approaches. (See Storewiz Bolsters Compression.) Don't forget about data compaction and the range of choices there. There's also WAN optimization to reduce the impact of data on your network -- again, with a laundry list of features. (With or without SSL, with or without WAFS, etc.) (See Riverbed Steps on SSL Gas.) Did we mention thin provisioning or data de-duplication?

It can be enough to puzzle the most erudite of data pros. The solution, it seems, is to keep your eyes on the goal.

That's what the Panalpina Group did when it wanted to consolidate its eight worldwide data centers into six. According to Armin Heinlein, corporate VP of the air and ocean freight services firm's North American IT Competence Center, it came down to reducing the number of file servers without compromising remote workers.

What does WAN optimization and WAFS have to do with data center consolidation? "Top managers work on laptops... We wanted to centralize without users being upset," Heinlein says. Keeping a growing roster of users happily connected wasn't going to be easy without upgrading a data center in Toronto or buying costlier telecom services. After a brief evaluation, which Heinlein claims included "all the usual suspects" in WAN optimization, the group decided that Cisco's Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) modules for their existing Cisco switches made the most sense.

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