The University of Minnesota has standardized on EMC hardware, replacing Sun Microsystems kit, and laid the foundation for an ambitious new SAN. (See UM Picks Cisco SAN.)
The seeds of the overhaul were sown more than two years ago, prompted -- surprise, surprise -- by a data explosion. "The storage in our enterprise-class environments was growing by leaps and bounds," says Carl Follstad, the university's manager of data management services. "Vendors were putting out new versions of databases that were driving the database growth."
Even now, the university is handling around 300 Tybtes of data, and that's growing by around 10 percent a month. But back in 2004, the organization was hampered by its reliance on direct attached storage. "When it's direct attached, you can't share it. There was no replication, and disaster recovery was based on tapes," explains Follstad.
By performing SAN-based snapshots of data, however, Follstad has been able to cut backup times dramatically. On one application for students' course material, for example, he cut the time in half, to 14 hours. "It depends on the amount of data you're backing up [but] it's certainly faster. Previously, we would have had to back the application up to several servers, and back up each server concurrently."
The university uses a range of different software products to secure its new SAN-based data, including EMC's MirrorView and Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF), and Symantec's NetBackup, although the biggest change in the organization's storage infrastructure is in the hardware.