REVIEWER: George Holt, chief technology officer, and Dan Infanti, chief marketing officer, for ActBig.

BACKGROUND: ActBig is an application service provider (ASP) targeting small- and medium-size companies with easy-to-implement, business-to-business commerce solutions. ActBig's product enables businesses to combine their purchasing power toward specific items in order to receive favorable terms. ActBig is expanding its services to meet the growing demand within the middle market for basic online purchasing solutions that involve low up-front costs and fast-track implementations.

PLATFORMS: ActBig runs LSI Logic Storage Systems' MetaStor E4400 storage solution on Sun Enterprise 420R servers with Solaris 7 that also host Oracle8i and VERITAS Cluster Server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In our business, we have to be up and running around the clock, every day of the year. Coupled with VERITAS, the MetaStor E4400 system provides high availability by using redundant disk arrays each running RAID 5. The ability to add or replace disks and storage controllers without taking the system offline is crucial in obtaining 100 percent reliability of the ActBig platform for our partners. Since the initial configuration was perfected, there have been zero incidents. In addition to reliability, the MetaStor E4400 storage system also provides an extremely scalable and fast solution for our Oracle database platform.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The MetaStor E4400 handles all our database storage requirements. Transactions are extremely fast, and the redundancy assures zero downtime (failover has been calculated in the milliseconds).

STRENGTHS: We believe the MetaStor E4400 storage system has great strengths. It offers a large-scale storage solution that can be deployed in the low six-figure dollar range. With additional disks and controllers, the MetaStor E4400 can be scaled to 16 terabytes of storage capacity, which makes our company a serious solution for enterprise customers concerned about reliability. The E4400's "pay-as-you-grow" flexibility lets us buy more storage on an as-needed basis ­ meaning we can take advantage of decreasing technology costs ­ to meet our customers' future needs. Additionally, we have the ability to compartmentalize large partners' data within a common storage solution. We can now accommodate a range of partners, from turnkey installations to partners requiring large private databases, all on the same storage architecture and managed using the same system level and application level interfaces.

WEAKNESSES: At the time of installation, our system was not configured for automatic notification of failure; therefore, an initial controller problem was not brought to our attention. Once the E4400 was configured with the automatic notification feature, events requiring action are now alerted immediately to the administrator via SNMP traps, e-mail or third- party pager.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Scalability, cost, reliability, open solution, confidence in LSI Logic's technology as well as SANstar's (the reseller) customer service and technical ability were reasons we chose MetaStor.

DELIVERABLES: Since ActBig operates as an ASP, we believe the MetaStor E4400 storage system will benefit sales as prospective partners realize its reliability and scalability capabilities. Ad-ditionally, it has saved our system administrators time because the MetaStor E4400 storage system has been very easy to operate. ActBig applies an ASP model, hosting all marketplaces from a common platform. The reliability, scalability and extensibility capabilities of the business are critical and require a rich meta data model, the ability to store large volumes of transactional and informational data, and the ability to handle large volumes of read/write transactions to the Oracle database. The MetaStor E4400 system is a critical component of the ActBig solution.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Both SANstar and LSI Logic Storage Systems were extremely helpful in getting us set up. We had a very tight schedule (about five weeks) from the point of sale to product launch. During that time, we had to reschedule the SANstar technical personnel twice. Much of the configuration took place during off hours and on weekends, which SANstar was more than willing to accommodate. Both LSI Logic Storage Systems and SANstar were very prompt in addressing an early hardware problem, and they have remained in contact with us to address any issues with ongoing operations.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation on the MetaStor E4400 was key in setting up the system when it was moved to our facility. When we first set up the E4400, we did so with the assistance of the reseller. We were then able to move the storage system to our co-location facility and install the new controller using the documentation provided. Our system administrators believe the whole process was very straightforward.

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