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Investment Bank Consolidates Storage Using Utility-Computing Technology

New system avoids need to build a storage area network and assists with migration to a Linux environment.

Investment bank Thomas Weisel Partners has achieved near-100% storage utilization and slashed administrative costs 95% by implementing utility-computing technology from 3PARdata Inc.

The 600-person firm has seen its storage needs escalate in response to regulatory mandates from the Securities and Exchange Commission on retention of electronic documents, and it needed a cost-effective way to store, retrieve, and back up data. "Our storage environment is now growing considerably," says Larry Sikon, CIO at Thomas Weisel Partners. "3PAR allows me to consolidate storage that would have been spread out over standalone environments."

The bank has installed a 3PAR InServ Storage Server at its New York and San Francisco offices and has connected more than a dozen servers at each office to the 3PAR server. This saved the company from the complexity of creating a storage-area-network. "3PAR allows me to connect up to 100 servers without having to get into a Brocade-type fabric switching environment," says Sikon, referring to networked storage technology from Brocade Communications Systems Inc.

In concert with the storage-consolidation project, Thomas Weisel is migrating host applications over to a Linux environment. The 3PAR operating system has provided a "cost-effective, high-performing, easy-to-administer" method for managing storage for the Linux host apps, Sikon says.

The company now runs all Oracle, Microsoft Exchange, and file services applications on 3PAR. Data replication for disaster-recovery is performed through a single centralized operation. "It's allowing me to replicate a single consolidated storage platform, instead of replicating individual storage platforms," Sikon says.

The 3PAR technology has a write-only feature, meaning that storage is allocated as the data is being written instead of having to be pre-allocated. That has provided near-100% storage-capacity utilization, compared with a typical rate of 30%.

Storage utility platforms enable companies to add capacity in modular building blocks; according to research firm the Yankee Group, their chief advantages versus larger storage systems are cost, simplicity, and the use of a single hardware and software architecture.

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