As disaster recovery regulations mounted, servers piled up in the corporate controller's IT infrastructure at First Tennessee Bank, a subsidiary of First Horizon National Corp. ($37.9 billion in assets). Firewalled off from the rest of the organization for strict oversight, the system was overwhelming the two-employee department. "We just couldn't keep adding bigger servers and more disk space," says Bobby Robinson, the bank's accounting officer. "We needed a system that would grow manageably."
In 2004 Robinson turned to the evolving concept of system consolidation via virtualization, which essentially allows one server to run multiple applications. To start, First Tennessee needed to move data from individual servers -- such as its Oracle (Redwood Shores, Calif) Hyperion and Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) SQL database servers -- into a pool via a storage area network (SAN), explains Robinson.
While the rest of the Memphis-based bank already had an EMC (Hopkinton, Mass.) Fibre Channel (FC) SAN, it wasn't an option for the corporate controller's office. "The main IT department has hundreds of employees and a budget to match," Robinson notes. "Although we looked at EMC early in 2005, the infrastructure was so pricey that we abandoned it."
Concurrently, Robinson researched the emerging SAN-in-a-box category. "We brought in the first of two options, Compellent's (Eden Prairie, Minn.) Storage Center. It was so impressive the other company instantly became a nonplayer," Robinson recalls. "Not only was the demo SAN configured and virtualized in under an hour, its total cost was comparable to a one-year maintenance agreement with EMC."
Further, "EMC's FC SAN infrastructure requires a completely different knowledge base than our Microsoft-based LAN, which is Ethernet," says Robinson. "And FC equipment is notorious for needing constant tweaking. ... Compellent's SAN is already optimized."