Since 1999, 20 years after its founding, EMC has bought more than a dozen companies to expand its reach in the data protection arena. Customers applaud EMC’s buying prowess, saying the acquired technologies have helped their businesses save time and money in their disaster recovery efforts.
Before 2003, Clarendon Hills, Ill.-based Mid America Bank, with 82 retail branches in Illinois and Wisconsin, used tapes to back up core financial systems and rented a co-location facility in an undisclosed Pennsylvania location in case of a disaster.
Cutting recovery time to a few hours—not days, the expected downtime in the Pennsylvania facility—was a top disaster recovery priority, says Paul Stonchus, first vice president for data center management.
In 2003, the bank built a disaster recovery site with EMC’s Symmetrix DMX networked storage boxes, storage arrays that hold disks and provide half a terabyte of cache memory, into a branch 15 miles from the primary data center in suburban Chicago. The setup included EMC’s Symmetrix Remote Data Facility software tools, which copy vital applications like loan tracking, report imaging and transaction interfaces for automated teller machines from one facility to another.
Stonchus and his team have tested the system five times since implementation by shutting down the primary data center and activating the backup site. Each time, EMC’s products met the bank’s goals of restoring critical functions within five hours.
EMC was also the right medicine for El Camino Hospital, a 395-bed facility, when it moved to a new location in Mountain View, Calif., in 2004. At the same time, chief technology officer Joe Wagner and his team started planning to back up its new data center at a site off the hospital’s campus.
The hospital installed a storage-area network on EMC’s Clariion boxes to improve data availability and linked the new data center to a secondary site using SnapView, a replication tool that works with the Clariion product line. Wagner says EMC impressed him as a partner that planned for the short and long term, and was impressed with EMC’s reputation for technical support.
After implementing the EMC products, Wagner says uptime rose from 99% to 99.5% and helped yield more than $5 million in cost savings.
Chris Carter, director of enterprise technology services with PPL Corp., a $6.2 billion energy company in Allentown, Pa., uses Symmetrix boxes and Symmetrix Remote Data Facility replication tools to copy between two undisclosed data centers.
Like Wagner, Carter says he was impressed with EMC’s sales and support staff, who work with PPL as if they expect to be long-term partners.
But if EMC has stumbled anywhere, Carter says, it’s been in fitting all the products it has acquired under one roof. For example, EMC combined proprietary and acquired tools from its purchases of software firms Softworks and Terascape in 2000 to form the ControlCenter suite, which Carter uses to manage the storage replication environment; that mixture of technologies, he says, caused some overlapping of management records and performance results on the user interface.
Carter, however, quickly adds that newer versions of the product have corrected the problem.
In a statement, Jonathan Siegal, a senior manager with EMC’s storage management software group, didn’t directly address Carter’s problem; he said only that customer experiences have improved “dramatically” in the last few years.
Still, Carter says the vendor’s storage products have performed year after year—PPL, according to Carter, has never lost any critical data with EMC: “[EMC] does what it says it does, in my opinion, better than anyone on the market.”
* Fiscal year ends dec. 31; fytd reflects first six months.