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Storage management tools let insurer cut IT head count

Health Alliance Plan uses Symantec tools for compliance, centralization

By Brian Fonseca
September 4, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The storage environment of the Health Alliance Plan of Michigan once typified the old adage of "too many cooks in the kitchen," said Daniel Trim, operations director for Unix systems and database management at Detroit-based health care company. Several years back, he said, the company  needed several administrators to manage corporate and departmental storage needs and requests.

"There would be five administrators working on some kind of storage problem every day," noted Trim. "Year after year, you're attaching more storage to different servers and someone had to figure it out all out."

The company moved to solve the problem about three years ago by installing Symantec Corp.'s Veritas Command Central Storage management software to work with its Veritas NetBackup data protection implementation. Trim said the company hoped to gain control of its heterogeneous storage and IT environment by using the products in unison. 

Trim said the Symantec tools quickly brought management of the storage systems under one umbrella, allowing IT managers to view the entire storage structure as a single entity. Since installing the software, he added, one part-time administrator has been able to handle roughly the same workload that five administrators handled previously.

"It's hard to get new administrators," Trim said. "If you find ways to decrease the workload and the number of people it takes to get a specific job done, you can move people to do the other things. That was one of biggest things [storage management] gave us."

Health Alliance Plan relies on CommandCentral to customize reports, keep track of storage volume consumption and monitor all backup and recovery activity, Trim said. He added that the insurer also uses the software as an auditing tool to meet the requirements of the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act.

Today, the software manages Hitachi Data Systems Corp. Thunder 9580v and TagmaStore AMS1000 midrange arrays along with an IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server 800 storage system. Trim said.

Health Alliance Plan runs both Microsoft Windows and Linux on 120 Intel servers and 40 Unix servers, and it houses most of its critical data in an Oracle database. The company is in the process of migrating from Sun Solaris systems to IBM AIX systems and should complete the project soon, Trim said.

Read more about Data Storage in Computerworld's Data Storage Topic Center.



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