CATEGORY: Database Performance & Systems Management

REVIEWER: Scott Wingenbach, division vice president and director of operation services for Maritz Inc.

BACKGROUND: For more than a century, the name Maritz has meant excellence and quality. Today, the company that popularized the gold retirement watch is the world's largest provider of market research, communications, learning solutions, incentives, event management, awards and recognition, travel and customer loyalty programs.

PLATFORMS: HP ProLiant Servers running Microsoft Windows 2000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We were facing major challenges in tracking and controlling IT service costs associated with diverse business interests and with efficiently controlling our storage resources. As a cost center, the Technical Services group charges everything back to internal users, who demand that costs are kept as low as possible. The complexities of direct-attached storage hampered our operations, resulting in inefficient storage utilization, delays in implementing new applications, wasted time and shrinking space.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: To help with our IT challenges, we installed the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) system based on HP StorageWorks 16-port Fibre Channel switches combining high-performance, high-capacity RAID storage with a user-friendly, browser-like control system. The high-density, centralized EVA system saves us time as well as valuable computer-room floor space. As we continue to consolidate our storage resources for greater efficiency and utilization, the StorageWorks EVA can handle both the normal and the unexpected demands of growth. We occasionally get urgent requests for new or increased disk space. With the StorageWorks EVA, we can deliver it. In the past, we added disks to servers or reconfigured our other storage-area networks (SANs) for special projects or new programs – a very time-consuming and expensive task. We gain a real return on investment with the StorageWorks EVA when we get new programs up quickly to address new customers or markets. The simplicity of the StorageWorks EVA helps us realize cost savings – both in personnel and optimized technical operations. With EVA virtualization features, we easily add new servers and applications without worrying about storage allocation. We add capacity and servers "on the fly" and migrate applications without rebuilding the system –­ a huge advantage. The StorageWorks EVA takes care of details and presents that information at a much higher level. We spend approximately 80 percent less time managing the StorageWorks EVA than SANs from other vendors. By easily managing more storage with the same staff, we gain a real return on our EVA investment.

STRENGTHS: Ease of use, manageability and performance are the main strengths. The virtualization software has made administration of this device much easier, allowing us to respond to client requests in a more timely fashion.

WEAKNESSES: At its initial implementation, immaturity of the product was the main issue. With time, the product has matured, addressing some concerns with detailed understanding of the virtualization software and how it was implemented. Also, the product initially lacked a performance monitoring capability. Detailed understanding of the virtualization has improved, both from our perspective as well as that of our local support team. The performance monitoring product has also been delivered, and we are now looking at additional enhancements to the product which have been integrated into the HP OpenView environment.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Again, the ease of use and overall manageability were major factors. Performance was also a key factor in our overall consideration.

DELIVERABLES: The StorageWorks EVA is used to satisfy a variety of storage needs at Maritz. It is used to house client and corporate databases, workspace, space for file and print servers as well as the main corporate e-mail repository.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Overall, vendor support has been very good. As the product has continued to mature, the local support for the product has also grown. Enhancements to the software have allowed us to be more efficient with our resources and understand, in a much more detailed sense, how the StorageWorks EVA allocates resources. HP has been very responsive to our needs and has helped us enhance our knowledge of the product.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation on the product has been top notch right from the start. It was easily understood and has been updated regularly as the product has been enhanced.

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