CATEGORY: Storage

REVIEWER: David Tsou, manager of design automation and business applications for the delivery unit of Xerox Electronics.

BACKGROUND: The Xerox Electronics Delivery Unit designs and manufactures ASICs, PCBs, imager components, printers and copiers for both internal as well as external customers.

PLATFORMS: The unit has now implemented two redundant systems. One NetApp filer is attached to a Sun Enterprise 6500 server, and a second filer is linked to a Sun Enterprise 6000. The filers run on the NetApp DataONTAP operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Since 1994, the Electronics Delivery Unit (EDU) has been relying exclusively on NetApp filers for its data storage needs. NetApp filers are reliable, simple to maintain and come with the kind of support that simply does not allow for anything less than absolute satisfaction. With three filers already being used in this unit to store all design and desktop applications ­ and all data associated with those applications ­ the company added an additional NetApp filer when migrating manufacturing and financial applications from a mainframe-based proprietary solution to Oracle Manufacturing and Oracle Financials. Xerox EDU also has an active backup system that relies on a NetApp feature called Snapshot. Snapshot enables Xerox to take an image of the entire 250GB database in just five minutes and back up this image to tape. As a result, operational downtime for the backup process is minimized.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The NetApp filers back up Xerox's business-critical functions, such as financial management and manufacturing, all being driven by the Oracle applications. The Snapshot technology is currently being used for cold backups, although the feature also supports hot backups of the Oracle database. Xerox plans to leverage this capability in the future.

STRENGTHS: A main benefit of the NetApp filers, according to Xerox, is their simplicity. The physical design of these devices is clean with fewer subsystem components as compared to competing products. As a result, the systems are very easy to administer and maintain. Also, the Xerox EDU relies on NetApp's remote, real-time monitoring service. With this service, Xerox is confident that if any problems ever arise they can be dealt with quickly.

WEAKNESSES: NetApp has provided us with top quality service, support and products. If anything could be enhanced, it would be the capacity of the F760. We cluster multiple filers to solve that issue.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In 1994, when Xerox made the first storage purchasing decision, there were really no other high-performance products competing in the marketplace. Since then, Xerox has received such outstanding service and support that they have no plans to switch vendors.

DELIVERABLES: The real-time monitoring and reporting capabilities are extremely useful and prevent problems before they occur
For example, one night NetApp's service center proactively identified a problem with a disk about to fail. The next morning, the
system administrator received an e- mail alert indicating the possible problem. Later that same morning Xerox received a replacement via overnight courier.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The service and support are exceptional. We were already familiar with the whole range of benefits associated with network attached storage including reliability, scalability, flexibility and easy maintenance. These features were significant because Xerox did not know at the time how much storage would be needed for these applications. NetApp's tech support professional guides us along as our storage needs have increased tenfold over the last two years.
As our databases grow, we just add disks to the NetApp filers; and we instantly gain needed capacity without ever bringing the system down.

DOCUMENTATION: Because of the product's simplicity, the NetApp filers are reliable and easy to maintain. The introduction of additional filers and the migration process were seamless.

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