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Tight on Space, Law Firm Goes Virtual

Baltimore is home to more than just the famed Inner Harbor, the historic USS Constellation, and the architectural landmark of Camden Yards. This city is also home to Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, a local law firm that is national in scope. As you'd expect at a firm with such a broad reach, it has lots of data -- enough that simple storage solutions won't do the job.

"About half of our servers are virtualized," says David Roden, director of technology for the firm. "We use NetApp for storage and we use Virtual Iron for just the virtual machines." The firm manages 2 Tbytes of storage under Virtual Iron, which supports 18 virtual machines.

According to Roden, as data and applications began to grow in number and demand more resources, the firm was faced with a dilemma -- space, which it leases from a landlord. "As we began to accumulate older and newer applications we began to accumulate a lot of servers," Roden says. "We have a limited amount of space we can dedicate to storage and a limited amount of air conditioning. We had to look for a way to preserve legacy applications. In the fall of '07 we had to look at virtualization."

Roden looked at all of the major vendors in the virtualization market, including VMware, XenSource, and Microsoft, and chose Virtual Iron. "There's no denying that from a price standpoint, there's more bang for the buck," he says. Even better, "you don't need to do any sort of installation on the nodes." Each node on the storage network boots from the server, he notes.

While the primary motivation for adopting virtualization was to allow the firm's growing needs to be accommodated in its limited facilities, there were other reasons. "We wanted to greatly improve our disaster recovery capability," Roden says. He noted that the company only has one office, which also limited its flexibility. "We couldn't work out of a branch office or do staging at a branch office. This made it easy to migrate to another box and bring it up."

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