REVIEWER: Richard Hitchcock, national LAN manager, G6 Land Command for The New Zealand Army.

BACKGROUND: "Kiwis armed to make a difference" is the value statement of the New Zealand Army. Today, that means more than deploying sophisticated weapons; it requires arming soldiers with critical data ­ when and where they need it.

PLATFORMS: ProLiant 6400R and ProLiant 1850R servers using Microsoft Windows NT 4.0.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Last year, the Army's Trentham Camp was besieged with critical data management and storage problems. The Army called in reinforcements from Compaq Computer Corporation, deploying a new storage area network (SAN) based on the Compaq StorageWorks system.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Communication and Information System (CIS) team installed a Compaq StorageWorks Enterprise Storage Array 12000 (ESA12000) system, ProLiant 6400R and ProLiant 1850R servers configured in a SAN. It was imperative that we invest in a turnkey solution with unlimited scalability and total redundancy. Our Compaq solution meets these goals and positions us for the future.

STRENGTHS: The Compaq SAN solution immediately addressed Trentham Camp's reliability needs. The entire SAN is configured to ensure reliability, with duplicate storage units and components wherever possible. We log no downtime now as a result of faults or repairs. Overall, system downtime decreased about 5.4 hours per month over the past four months. At the same time, the average number of users affected during downtime incidents declined by five percent, and the availability of corporate applications such as our corporate intranet rose 1.6 hours per month. Information technology professionals at the site rely on the StorageWorks Command Console and Compaq Insight Manager to continually monitor the operation. One of the most critical features of the Compaq SAN is its ability to identify a potential problem long before it becomes an actual problem. Such management software allows us to make changes rapidly without interruption to data flow.

WEAKNESS: While the SAN was being built, Compaq discovered that one of the software applications from another vendor was not compatible with the cluster. This resulted in a lot of extra work for Compaq as they attempted to resolve the issue. Though it would have been better had Compaq discovered this issue prior to the migration, the system still exceeds my expectations.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Compaq demonstrated real- world experience combined with a global presence and infrastructure which provided additional ease of mind to upper management. We achieved a manageable, scalable and fault-tolerant SAN that meets our strategic direction for the next five years.

DELIVERABLES: As with the improvements to reliability, the improvements in productivity are quantifiable. In total, the increased use of management software from Compaq allows CIS to recognize reductions of 100-200 people-hours per month on administration of outdated and defunct equipment. I'm now working on a strategy to roll out SANs to the rest of the Army. The results for users will be astounding.

VENDOR SUPPORT: During installation and deployment of the SAN, Compaq Global Services provided valuable technical assistance and advice to Army personnel. Although the Army employs highly qualified staff, Compaq led the installation of this new technology while ensuring a thorough skills transfer and excellent user training. The time frame was extremely tight, yet Compaq met all contract deliverables. The Army is impressed with the breadth and depth of their new vendor's experience. For example, the Compaq SAN solution includes a full suite of lifecycle services to help the Army plan, design, implement, manage and support SANs across the enterprise. Compaq demonstrated it could be counted on for the long run. The project was completed on time, under budget and with a 300 percent increase in processing power. The SAN remained stable with no failures reported to date. The Army, Compaq and the people of New Zealand can all be proud of that accomplishment.

DOCUMENTATION: The online documentation is complete, easy to understand and constantly utilized. The product ships with hard-copy documentation as well.

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