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Watchwords at SNW: Simplicity, health care, virtualization

By Bruce Hoard
April 10, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Storage Networking World - SAN DIEGO -- Their were multiple messages for attendees at the Spring Storage Networking World conference here: Complexity has no place in storage infrastructures, health care IT is on the rise, and virtualization is happening now.

On another front, infrastructure aficionados were presented with a heaping serving of alphabet soup in the form of more emerging standards from the Storage Networking Industry Association.

Jerry Bartlett, CIO of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., was positively messianic about eradicating complexity, optimizing systems toward the goal of servicing customer needs and then re-investing profits in new product development. Noting the eight mergers or acquisitions his firm has gone though in the past five years, he made it clear that building customer value has been a constant throughout all the changes.

"Two or three years ago, we started thinking about what is the right technical philosophy going forward, and we decided the right thing to do was creating value for the families and individuals that are our clients and constituents," Bartlett declared, adding, "Don't miss an opportunity to remove complexity, and keep your options open."

In order to follow the company's newfound philosophy, TD Ameritrade has added staff, simplified its storage infrastructure and reduced server costs by 45%, while allocating 75% of available resources on new product development.

"Complexity and rigidity add costs," Bartlett said. "The systems architecture of the future must be simple and agile, which allows you to be more responsive to clients and to fix problems more easily."

TD Ameritrade was able to save significant amounts of money by cost-efficiently allocating storage between high-end and midrange arrays. Twelve to 15 months ago, 100% of its storage was high-end arrays; today, the number has shrunk to 30%. As part of that effort, the firm moved 30 test systems from direct-attached and high-end storage to midrange systems.

According to Bartlett, the company used internal testing to establish the differences between high-end and midrange storage. Specifically, performance of the two storage types was evaluated in environments where the arrays operated in a degraded mode. This was done in order to determine the ability of TD Ameritrade's tiered storage infrastructure to meet service level objectives. Testing results indicated that in the case of high-end arrays, failures of internal components degraded performance by 12%, compared to 50% with their mid-range counterparts.

The CIO also espoused the value of communication between the business and IT sides of the house. Referring to what he called the "complete partnership" between those two groups at his company, he declared, "I am a business guy."

Reprinted with permission from SNW.com. Story copyright 2012 SNW Online, all rights reserved.
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