BACKGROUND: Oracle Corporation is the world's leading supplier of software for information management and the world's second largest software company with annual revenues of more than $8 billion. Oracle's Global Enterprise Technology Center (ETC) in Atlanta was established so customers can safely test, configure and deploy clustering technology; test large databases before implementing them; and migrate systems quickly and economically.

PLATFORMS: More than 1TB of MetaStor Data Center storage is installed in the ETC. Employing an eight-node NT cluster server installed on IBM Netfinity 7000, Oracle has built a multiterabyte data warehouse for business-critical applications running on NT 4.0 and Oracle Parallel Server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In data warehousing, the two most important factors are scalability and fast access speeds. The MetaStor Data Center, as currently configured at the ETC, allows customers to run random queries on large amounts of data from multiple servers at lightning speeds. NT environments usually can't handle amounts of data greater than 1TB. We needed a disk that all NT nodes could see. We required the ability to scale in two ways: more disks for greater disk space and more server nodes for greater processing power. Often, the addition of more disks results in a bottleneck, so addition of more I/O to and from the disk is necessary. The Fibre Channel connectivity provided in MetaStor enabled not only the disk readability but also the I/O speed, preventing any bottlenecking.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The MetaStor Data Center functions very well. We are currently running 1.5TB of data on the machine which sustains 20,000 I/Os per second. The MetaStor Data Center outperforms a competitor's machine in terms of speed and all-around performance. We are using RAID 0 and RAID 1, with an ultimate goal to use RAID 5 and mirroring. In the future, we intend to use it for larger data sets, and we are planning to add up to 5TB of additional disk capacity.

STRENGTHS: Data Center's main strength is its reliability. We've had minimal problems with the unit ­ just the kind you would expect to have in the setup phase of any new product. This was the first data storage product that worked on an NT platform. The ease of installation and simple maintenance of the MetaStor Data Center is a major strength over competitors' products.

WEAKNESSES: One weakness includes the platform, not the product. When you put disk storage with NT platforms, the operating system doesn't allow for easy configuration installation to manage so many disks. To attain this functionality we had to hire a third-party software provider.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our major reasons for selecting the MetaStor Data Center were connectivity and high performance. The obvious advantage of this product is its Fibre Channel connectivity ­ nothing runs faster other than mainframe disks. Our number one requirement was speed. IBM did the shopping for us and recommended the MetaStor Data Center over all products in the marketplace.

DELIVERABLES: The specific system application at Oracle's ETC involves a very large 1.5TB database containing some 3 billion rows of household data compiled from telephone surveys gathered weekly over a four-year period. The data warehouse can be queried to identify consumer purchasing trends. On examination, one database query that scanned every row in the huge database, and previously took several hours to complete, returned the specified request in 2.58 minutes. This timesaving feat gives testimony to the high-performance MetaStor Fibre Channel storage system.

VENDOR SUPPORT: LSI Logic Storage Systems, Inc. has provided excellent vendor support of the MetaStor Data Center. They helped install and configure the system, performed a customer acceptance test and did not leave our site until everything worked. The best part of working with the MetaStor folks is that we don't have to call them on a regular basis. They put the system in and it works.

DOCUMENTATION: The Documen-tation provided to us on the MetaStor Data Center is complete and easy to understand. No matter how good product documentation is, we choose to rely on the hardware vendor who knows our specific product needs. We're software guys and they are hardware guys. We want to do our jobs in software and let them do their job in data storage hardware.

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