REVIEWERS: Rick Manning, CIO, and Brad Whitley, senior network engineer for Devon Energy.

BACKGROUND: Devon Energy Corporation is an independent energy company involved in oil and gas property acquisition, exploration and production. It ranks among the top five U.S.-based oil and gas producers. Devon sells oil and gas on the open market.

PLATFORMS: Sun Enterprise 4500, 450, 420 and 220 servers; Sun StorEdge T3 arrays; Sun Blade 1000 workstations; Sun Solaris 2.6, 2.7 and 2.8 operating environment software.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Today, people want more from the data center than ever before. With demands for access to information at any time, anywhere, Devon Energy made the decision to upgrade its environment to ensure the highest levels of service and access, as well as deliver unprecedented availability.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Devon Energy began to build its open SAN infrastructure late in 2000 by purchasing 17 Sun Enterprise servers and 11 terabytes of Sun StorEdge T3 arrays. The architecture has enabled us to realize a 102 percent performance gain over our old environment. Sun provided us with the ability to consolidate and standardize across the board. The result was a reduction in administration costs with an improvement in performance. We were also able to consolidate the server infrastructure from 25 to 17 servers without compromising the high quality of service to our user community. We are planning to expand to 50 terabytes of storage in two years, and we're looking forward to upgrading without any downtime.

STRENGTHS: Sun Enterprise servers combined with Sun StorEdge T3 arrays provide Devon Energy with a scalable, easily manageable, continuously available and interoperable IT environment. Product strengths include: interoperability which reduces the complexity and costs of managing different IT systems; the speed required to handle graphic- intensive 3-D seismic software; a single vendor, integrated and expandable infrastructure; increased disk space and speed; seamless scalability to support growth; and SAN-ready technology.

WEAKNESSES: We see no apparent weakness in this solution. All pieces work together to provide a perfect fit for Devon's environment. However, the delivery of the different products could have been more prompt, but some delays are to be expected.

SELECTION CRITERIA: While competitors focus on a mainframe, monolithic storage strategy, Sun has transformed traditional storage boxes into open, scalable, network-based solutions that enable customers to meet today's explosive data storage demands. Selecting servers was easy ­ Sun is the UNIX leader. For storage, we conducted a series of benchmarks for volume and file speed. Salespeople can talk a lot of jargon, but really when it comes down to it, their numbers don't compete with Sun. We have found the Sun StorEdge T3 arrays give us a greater performance edge and considerable cost savings over both EMC and Network Appliance. Another key decision factor was how they handled 3-D rendering software and graphic-intensive applications. One of our pictures can be 5GB large; therefore, the speed of the server and storage environment play a critical role in Devon's overall productivity.

DELIVERABLES: This solution enables Devon to find oil and gas with greater accuracy, performance, reliability and expansion for the future. We use this solution to provide all pieces of the process of finding oil and gas from the applications, 2-D/3-D files and Oracle databases required to support an exploration company.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Sun conducts extensive testing and integration from the database management software to the device level. Sun meets our requirements for service uptime, scalability, reliability and performance through a team effort between its affiliates which jointly build reference configurations, test and release products and operate Joint Escalation Centers to resolve technical issues. Sun programs such as the Veritas, Oracle, Sun initiative (VOS) and SunTone allow for quick problem resolution with no finger pointing. We can call one number and get anything fixed.

DOCUMENTATION: Sun Service is outstanding; therefore, relying on documentation is not one of Devon's concerns. Sun provides excellent service after the sell, and we rely on Sun for this function. However, the documentation is also outstanding and extremely informative and could easily be used to run the products without any assistance.

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