Incompatible systems stall institute's storage project

After investing $150,000 in new digital storage technology the Children's Medical Research Institute realised the product didn't support both Windows-based and Macintosh computers.

The institute's IT manager, Darryn Capes-Davis, said it created real hiccups during implementation and it "took us about a month to work out the Macintosh problem".

The project was undertaken to replace the institute's storage system, which included a Compaq Proliant server that required constant upgrading and did not meet the needs of more than 60 computers in use at the site.

"We needed to have an upgrade path of at least five years that would grow with the institute's demands so we chose a product that could offer us the redundancy needed for future expansion," Capes-Davis said.

SecureData Group assessed the institute's requirements and recommended EMC's Clariion IP4700, a network attached storage (NAS) system and an Exabyte Ultrium tape back-up library with 10 slots.

But a hitch during the installation occurred when 12 Macintosh computers were attached to the network via a Windows-Mac client.

"We did plan to also use a product called Dave by Thursby Software which was to make the Macs talk to the Windows machine, but we later found out that EMC doesn't support that," Capes-Davis said.

The option was to use another Thursby product, Macintosh NFS (network file services) for which EMC paid, at a cost of $17,000, to resolve the problem.

"Companies should beware of this issue when considering storage projects; we only have a dozen Macs and we didn't want to have to replace them," he said.

Capes-Davis couldn't put a finger on when the return on investment would be seen, but said it includes the productivity of users, and the savings the institute will make on what it would have spent in the future on continual upgrades.

With the substantial increase in digital storage space, he said expansion is taken care of for at least the next decade.

"We are also [having discussion about becoming] a data centre so that the Westmead Millennium Institute, the research side of the Children's Hospital (at Westmead in Sydney's western suburbs), could rely on us for data services," Capes-Davis said.

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