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U Maryland Taps StorTrends Storage for Virtual Parking Project

After two years of effort, in fall 2010, the University of Maryland Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) introduced an entirely online registration interface process for handling parking permits. The initiative, which created a "significant cost savings," according to a campus report, replaced the in-person effort the university previously used. Now DOTS has gone public with details about a 2011 upgrade to the storage components of that infrastructure.

The DOTS IT department implemented a technology infrastructure that uses 20 VMware ESX virtual servers to manage the permit registration system. About 4 TB of data are maintained on multiple Microsoft SQL Server databases.

The fully virtual parking system now serves 37,000 students, 13,000 faculty and staff, and thousands of annual visitors. Besides sticker-less permit registration, the operation handles the IT work of data enforcement vehicles sending pictures of license plates in real time to a system that cross-references them against a database of registered permits. When a plate doesn't have a valid permit, a ticket is issued to the vehicle.

While the previous data storage gear in place performed adequately, the university said in a statement, it proved costly to maintain over time. When the maintenance contract came up for renewal last year, the IT team--led by Senior IT Coordinator and Systems Administrator Tim Robinson--evaluated alternatives. Ultimately, IT chose technology from American Megatrends to replace the existing system. The university implemented a StorTrends 3400i, a three-unit dual controller IP-based storage area network as primary storage. The 3400i has 16 hot-swappable hard drives that can grow up to 160 TB of storage capacity.

The storage decision, according to Robinson, came down to three factors: ease of management, a rich feature set, and price. "StorTrends had literally every single feature I was looking for: auto tiering, data dedupe and archiving, innovative data replication and WAN Optimization, a certified VMware plugin--everything. When I saw the GUI and how easy it was to use, I knew I had to take a further look."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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