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World Wildlife Fund

To the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), disaster recovery usually means trying to save the giant pandas or snow leopard from extinction. To its IT staff, it means being able to bring Microsoft Exchange back if the server fails.

The WWF is a Washington-based non-profit group that attempts to protect endangered species and their habitats. One endangered species it decided it couldn't save was direct attached storage. To keep Exchange running, the WWF recently installed a Compellent SAN and is experiencing the joys and pains of Fibre Channel storage, snapshots, and disk-to-disk backup.

Anne Topp, director of network services for WWF, says the decision was daunting but necessary. With about 400 users at headquarters taxing the organization's three file servers, and with backups lagging and Exchange recovery spotty, there was no choice.

"I was alarmed about bringing a SAN in -- it's a different technology," she says. "I heard a lot of horror stories. But we were constantly trying to delete files to free up space, and managing direct attached storage was a nightmare. Now we have more flexibility. We can take disk space from one server and assign it to another."

Price was another issue. "We're a non-profit, and we use our IT funds very carefully," she says. That ruled out midrange systems from EMC, Hewlett-Packard, and Hitachi Data Systems -- all originally under consideration.

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