After narrowing the field of vendors to four, "I discovered Compellent's [Eden Prairie, Minn.] virtualized SAN," Newberry says. "Compellent went beyond thin provisioning to also provide policy-based information lifecycle management, where stale data is automatically demoted to lower-performance disk drives. ... While many vendors supported such features as bolt-on afterthoughts, Compellent designed its SAN to completely automate management."
By July 2007 products from Compellent and VMware had arrived. "From the box to beginning the conversion to the virtualized environment went much faster than expected," Newberry reports. "It only took days to initiate and only a few months to complete."
During an otherwise uneventful deployment, a hiccup occurred when VMware's connection to the SAN destabilized. "Within minutes of my report to Compellent, they had ... isolated it to a problem with a third-party networking component," says Newberry. "Compellent overnighted a work-around, at no charge, while the [networking] vendor hammered out a permanent fix."
In production since late 2007, the virtualized environment has exceeded expectations. "We've reduced physical servers from 65 to 14 and cut storage administration time by 50 to 75 percent," enthuses Newberry. "We now evaluate and fulfill business unit requests the same day, whereas it previously took up to six weeks to get new equipment. In addition, the policy-based data migration is totally hands-off and significantly minimizes storage costs. Only eight of our 24 terabytes are high-performance tier-one storage. ... And we can perform tests within the virtual environment, so we don't need separate, expensive test environments anymore."