Ford Looks to Precise-WQuinn to Solve Storage Woes

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In today’s world the need for protecting mission-critical data has become an essential component of every company’s IT department. And, even though there are many companies hawking network storage solutions, the problem facing companies is finding the best solution for their company’s needs.

In September 2001, Precise Software Solutions, Inc., a leader in optimizing business through application performance management, acquired W.Quinn Associates, Inc., a recognized leader in storage and resource solutions for Windows NT/2000. Upon merging, the two companies formed Precise-WQuinn, the storage division of Precise Software. Based in Reston, Virginia, the company’s network storage solution, StorageCentral SRM, is presently being used by more than 4,000 companies in 50 countries, including Microsoft, Compaq, and 80 of the Fortune 100 companies.

Falling victim to the storage boom
Today’s enterprises easily fall victim to the storage boom, consuming server network and disk space at rates of 100 percent or more per year. Compounding the problem are users’ sloppy storage habits, data sharing through e-mail and the Internet, and the digitization of media such as music, graphics, and video. Without effective storage resource management, ineffective storage resources can cause server outages, network and capital resource waste, slow and unreliable backups, and consume system administrators’ valuable time. In addition, given the fact that most users will generally consume space infinitely unless multi-tiered space utilization thresholds are configured to control spiraling disk consumption, the question that needs to be answered is: how much space is reasonably required for each employee to perform his/her job function?

Help! I’m out of disk space (again)
So, what do you do when you run out of storage space on your Windows NT or 2000 system? According to Najaf Husain, president of Precise-WQuinn, running out and buying another disk every time you run out of storage space on your system is both expensive and extremely wasteful of existing storage resources. Not to mention, a solution that is frowned upon in today’s world of reduced revenues and downside pressures on already thin profit margins. Besides, who has the time, let alone the resources, to police the distributed disk drives of a company’s users and servers? And, how in the world do the folks in IT departments convince all the disk space hogs to settle down in the sty of policy-based storage? According to industry experts, what is needed is an economic, automatic way to manage storage resources that prevents the preservation of non-business and obsolete data, but works seamlessly with how a company uses its data.

The 5-prong approach to network storage
“At Precise-WQuinn, we developed StorageCentral SRM, which focuses on a five-prong approach in the management of storage resources,” says Husain. According to Husain, the acronym AASET summarizes the company’s approach and includes: Audit: take inventory of how your storage is being used, which typically reveals that 30% to 50% of your storage space is being wasted; Allocation: provide reasonable amounts of disk space to your users, monitor these space allocations and inform users of issues well before their capacity is depleted; Screening: block dangerous or unwanted files; Education: educate users on how to police themselves; and Trending: plan ahead for future growth. Husain says that StorageCentral SRM provides an on-going, in-depth, automatic, monitoring approach that drills down to identify and preserve files in regular use. “It tracks, controls, and screens disk storage in real time using our patented TruStord technology by ensuring that there is enough space for files to be stored before storing them,” says Husain. StorageCentral SRM can help companies reclaim 30 to 50 percent of storage wasted by Internet downloads, stale data, MP3 files, etc.,” continued Husain.

So, how do you know when your server’s are out of control? Well, there are many signs but here is our list of the top ten signs and if any of these symptoms sound remotely familiar – you have major network storage issues!

1. You habitually spend your evenings or weekends adding more disks to your servers
2. Your users have turned the S drive into an MP3juke box.
3. You have 12 copies of Doom! on the network.
4. You spend two days cleaning up the mess from the LoveBug virus
5. You spend four hours a week manually deleting large, non-work related files off the server
6. You get dirty looks on the elevator after personally asking your disk space hogs to clean up their home directories
7. Your servers contain the Budweiser ad, The Star report, and the Pamela Lee video.
8. Your backup cycle takes 26 hours to complete
9. Bob has 200MB in is home directory, and he left the company two years ago
10. The dancing baby and frog in blender cartoons take up the same amount of space as your mission critical data

Giving Ford a better idea
Ford Motor Company was running out of disk space and continually purchasing more disks. “They cited the problem of employees using as much disk space as they could get their hands on,” says Husain. “To make it easy for Ford’s system administrators, we provided several recommended default templates for setting quotas using StorageCentral SRM,” continued Husain. According to Husain, one template was set up to enforce employee hard disk quotas, while the other template was set up to monitor those quotas – but not enforce them. “We designed the structure so that the systems administrators could modify each template thereby allowing them to carry out the best way to monitor space usage on their servers,” says Husain. So, how does this work? Husain says that the hard quota template for Ford included a 300-MB disk space allocation enforced with a quota on home directories with a 50-MB overdraft. In addition, the template also offered two levels of employee notification: an email message when an employee hit 90 percent of their quota, and another message when they hit 100 percent. The email messages, says Husain, explained how much quota (or disk space) they had left and what they needed to do to do to free up disk space. And, says Husain, the overdraft allowed for continued work until files were cleaned up.

Screening, screening, and screening some more
The other issue is screening. According to Husain, scores of Internet files have no business purpose residing on corporate servers and can easily jeopardize the security and/or stability of the environment through potential virus exposure or software compatibility issues. “StorageCentral SRM allows system administrators to select which file types are unauthorized to write to servers and block them in real-time,” explains Husain. In other words, StorageCentral SRM can set file type filters and block certain files types such as avi., Mp3., rm., wav., exe.. and game files. In other words, if an employee tries to save a ‘blocked’ file type, they receive an alert saying why they can’t save that particular file. And, on the other hand – the process enables system administrators to exempt those individuals who need to get access to certain blocked files as part of their job description.

Educating your employees
Education is also a key component of the process, says Husain. “If you give users the tools and awareness needed for self clean-up, they will generally be cooperative and take the necessary corrective action,” says Husain. “StorageCentral SRM produces automated Web-based storage reports that are emailed to the file owners giving them the ability to quickly and easily identify problem storage areas (e.g. duplicated and stale files), and the reports allow users to take their own immediate corrective action,” he continued.

Tightening the reins on employee storage space
The bottom line is this: There is a way for IT departments to easily tighten the reins on the amount of storage space employees are using and they can do this and still maintain maximized system performance and high availability while empowering employees to police their own file space.

Company Information

Corporate Headquarters:
Precise Software Solutions, Inc.
690 Canton Street Westwood,
MA 02090 USA

Tel: 781-461-0700, (800) 310-4777

Fax: 781-461-0460

Precise-WQuinn Headquarters
1881 Campus Commons Drive
Suite 105
Reston, VA 20191

Tel: 703-758-0707, 800-829-3453
Fax: 703-758-0727
Web site:

Other USA offices: Westwood, MA, Addision, TX, Fort Lee, NJ, Troy, MI, Atlanta GA, Englewood, CO, Laguna Hills, CA, Redwood Shores, CA,

International Offices: Canada, The Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, and Australia.

Number of employees for Precise Software Solutions, Inc.: 350
Name of stock: PRSE (trades on NASDAQ)
Revenues for 4th quarter of 2001: $17.1 million
Revenues for 4th quarter of 2000: 9.6 million
Expected revenues for 1st quarter 2002: $17.8 million to $18.0 million

Leslie Wood
Leslie Wood
Leslie. Wood is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor.

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