BACKGROUND: Coral Energy, an affiliate of Shell Oil, is an energy marketing and trading company that provides a reliable and financially sound energy supply and expert consulting to maximize the value of its service to customers. Coral's "smart energy" combines the physical commodity of natural gas transportation and storage, power generation and wholesale energy use optimization, risk management and financial services to create an economic energy landscape. Coral Energy owns and operates more than 6,100 miles of onshore pipeline and has more than 300 interconnects with pipelines serving locations throughout the United States. Offshore, a 900-mile network of gathering lines and interstate transmission systems makes Coral one of the largest gas transporters in the Gulf of Mexico.

PLATFORMS: Our UNIX database environment, which includes Oracle and Sybase, is completely based on Sun servers and storage. The Sun StorEdge A5200 is connected to a Sun Enterprise 10000 server running the Solaris 2.6 operating environment. We also have Sun StorEdge A5000s and A5100s as well as a number of other Sun servers including the Sun Enterprise 5000, 4500 and 450 servers. We currently have around eight terabytes of Sun storage.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Coral commands a very liquid trading business, conducting transactions that total more than 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day and millions of megawatts of power a month. Considering the magnitude of the transactions and the storage required to support this environment in real time, we needed a high-capacity, high-performance storage system that was extremely reliable. We chose the Sun StorEdge A5200 arrays because they provided the high bandwidth and redundancy to guarantee maximum performance and availability.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The A5200 arrays support our entire UNIX database environment. We have hundreds of disks and literally thousands of objects. The A5200s provide us with the response time we require and are quite capable of handling our high volume of transactions. Not only do we use the A5200 to support our transaction environment, but it also supports Coral Energy's internal business infrastructure and e-commerce database. Multipath Fibre Channel connectivity provides the high throughput to process transactions and deliver excellent response time to the users. The A5200's high-density footprint with 22 drives in an enclosure saves us valuable floor space in our computer rooms. In addition, dual power supplies and dual I/O channels ensure maximum system availability. We started using the A5000 when it was initially released and have since taken advantage of newer technology in the product family with the A5100 and the A5200 arrays.

STRENGTHS: There are obvious strengths such as Fibre Channel, high-density packaging and exceptional RAS features. The real strength though lies in Sun's ability to deliver a completely integrated single-vendor server and storage solution. This was perhaps the most important factor for Coral Energy because it means faster time to implement and reliable, streamlined support.

WEAKNESSES: The A5200's only weakness is its single power cord. While admittedly this is a weakness for high-availability, mission-critical applications, we were able to work around this by mirroring volumes across A5200s and connecting each unit to separate power grids. This configuration essentially eliminates any single point of failure in the system.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The A5200 offers favorable price/performance. Performance in a trading company is of utmost importance. We looked at the available solutions; Sun offered the best overall solution in terms of performance, availability requirements and cost. Sun also represented a one-stop solution for server and storage, eliminating a mixed-vendor environment. The A5200 provides the storage infrastructure to facilitate our UNIX and e-commerce database environments and our internal business infrastructure. We run all our 24x7 mission-critical trading applications as well as Coral Energy's financial applications on the Sun StorEdge A5200. The high performance and reliability of the A5200 allows Coral to deliver the most economically efficient energy resources and strategies to our customers.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Very little support has been required from Sun. We typically perform our own hardware installations, configurations and subsequent management functions. Sun has performed exceptionally well the few times the disks have required service.

DOCUMENTATION: Complete documentation was provided. Because our configuration is fairly simple, little or no documentation was actually required.

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