CATEGORY: Storage

REVIEWER: Jeff Lett, director of telecommunications and technology for Tenet Healthcare Corporation.

BACKGROUND: Tenet Healthcare Corporation is a nationwide provider of healthcare services. The $11.4 billion company owns or operates 110 acute care hospitals and related businesses serving communities in 17 states. The company, headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, employs approximately 103,500 people. Tenet provides central support services to its hospitals from its Dallas-based operations center.

PLATFORMS: The MAGNITUDE Storage Area Network (SAN) from XIOtech is connected through Cisco switches to four Novell NetWare 5.1 Dell servers in a clustered configuration.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Like many companies in today's Internet era, Tenet was feeling the storage pinch. In the past, we relied on individual server storage that made it difficult to keep up with storage demands. Managing disk space on each server was also time-consuming and inefficient. In addition to our storage problems, our information technology (IT) department was moving and upgrading its operating system. Either of these could have caused system down- time. Our storage problem and our predicament prompted us to evaluate options. The XIOtech MAGNITUDE SAN is, by far, a more flexible and economical solution for skyrocketing storage needs than the server-attached storage we previously employed.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Virtualized architecture sets the MAGNITUDE SAN apart from other enterprise storage solutions. With the MAGNITUDE, administrators create and manage virtual disks from multiple physical drives in the MAGNITUDE. Now, nearly every modification needed to accommodate changing application or business requirements can be performed online. For example, physical storage can be added easily without rebooting servers, and adding capacity fits easily into monthly maintenance windows. With a few simple keystrokes, we can expand virtual disks on the fly or assign them easily to whichever server needs more capacity. With the MAGNITUDE, we can use all physical disks to their full capacity, reducing drive expenditures. Since the installation of our SAN, we've been able to eliminate investing in costly server-attached storage to accommodate growth.

STRENGTHS: Ease of operation and expansion are the MAGNITUDE's main strengths because of the product's embedded virtualization technology.

WEAKNESSES: There is little fault with the MAGNITUDE, although the backplane in this generation of the MAGNITUDE is SCSI instead of Fibre Channel. However, the SCSI backplane has been very reliable and has not caused performance degradation.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Once the decision was made to implement a SAN, we identified our selection criteria that ultimately led us to choose the MAGNITUDE. Because of its virtualization technology, we were assured that the move (from server-attached storage) would not mean interrupting service to our 750+ computer users. Servers can be added to the MAGNITUDE online. The MAGNITUDE SAN also has built-in redundancy for extra assurance of uptime. Today, our workstations are all linked to clustered drives that reside in the MAGNITUDE. Shared NSS volumes and NDPS printing are configured for redundancy so that even in a multinode failure, another network server will automatically take over the services. The MAGNITUDE also supported Novell's newest operating system (5.1). In the end, we chose the XIOtech MAGNITUDE SAN over competitive offerings because it offered the best combination of performance to meet our users' needs and a price to fit our budget.

DELIVERABLES: Our migration was accomplished without any service outage ­ it was entirely seamless to our users. Ever since installation, the MAGNITUDE has allowed us to maintain 100 percent data availability for our important file and print applications. Response time from the MAGNITUDE has always been great; and with a 1.4TB storage capacity on our SAN, we are confident that we can handle our projected growth.

VENDOR SUPPORT: XIOtech supported not only the MAGNITUDE, but also our entire solution. They went to great lengths to ensure the total server clustering solution would be successful. We've also had great support since installation. XIOtech does whatever it takes to keep us up and running.

DOCUMENTATION: The MAGNITUDE is very easy to use. XIOtech was present through the installation and explained the entire process. If we had relied on the documentation to learn about the product, we would have had no problem getting up to speed.

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