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United Puts SAN on Autopilot

United Airlines Inc.'s e-commerce group has picked SAN management software from startup CreekPath Systems Inc. to automate its storage provisioning processes -- and as a result has freed up its SAN architect from a time-consuming, mind-numbingly boring task.

The airline's UAL Loyalty Services Inc. (ULS) subsidiary handles all of its e-commerce and Internet functions, including and, as well as the company's loyalty program Websites, which include,, and ULS, based in Elk Grove, Ill., serves more than 1.4 million unique users per month through its online loyalty programs.

In the past year and half, ULS has assembled a sizeable SAN. It comprises three Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Lightning 9960s with 20 Tbytes of total storage capacity connected to more than 200 Unix and Windows servers via four Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) SilkWorm 3800 16-port switches and one 64-port SilkWorm 12000 configured in dual redundant fabrics.

Boris Sherman, senior director of operations at ULS, says as the SAN grew more complex, his team needed a better way to handle provisioning requests. Before installing CreekPath's storage resource management (SRM) suite in January, Sherman had no ability to automate storage provisioning or generate reports "to let me show my superiors where the money was going," he says. "We spent hours with spreadsheets trying to keep up with this."

ULS had only its single SAN architect, plus another admin part-time, managing storage provisioning requests -- which were taking up to 13 days to fulfill. "Our storage growth rates are through the roof," Sherman says.

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