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Feeling Data Squeeze, Liberty U Installs New NetApp SANs

Liberty University has installed a storage area network (SAN) from Network Appliance (NetApp) to accommodate an increase in enrollment and a greater reliance on digital information. The school has 11,300 resident students and 39,000 distance learners.

Because of student growth, the 90 TB EMC CLARiiON SAN had become almost completely full by the end of 2007. Critical services such as the university's online learning management system and student self service portal were starting to be negatively affected.

The university began to review the offerings of six different SAN vendors. By the end of 2007, the Information Services division selected NetApp as the vendor of choice for its new SAN solution, which consists of two systems, the FAS3040 and FAS3070. The 32-bit FAS3020 has a maximum raw capacity of 84 TB and can have up to 169 disk drives; cache memory can be 4 GB. The 64-bit FAS3070's capacity is 504 TB with 504 disk drives and 16 GB of cache memory. In a statement, the school said it was attracted to features including scalability, cutting-edge de-duplication technology, management, snapshot capabilities, and a comparable overall cost.

"The de-duplication part of this implementation has already shown gains in the neighborhood of 20 percent of our current storage," said Connie Allison, IT director of operations, "In plain English, that means huge financial savings for just doing business smarter."

To date, the 20 percent savings realized from de-duplication technology has allowed the university to save $190,000 worth of disk space that it couldn't have otherwise. The savings will continue to grow throughout the life of the product and based on current trends will approach $1.25 million.

The new SAN allows growth from its initial 150 TB to over 600 TB. All critical systems data will be mirrored, to maintain multiple copies of the data in separate data centers. Should one data center fail, critical systems can continue to operate by using the data in the other data center.

NetApp SAN projects have been implemented at the University of Florida, University of New Hampshire, and University of Missouri.

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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