Northrop Grumman, EMC team for success

While Bluefin may be the lingua franca that will unify storage area networks from
different vendors, government integrators can't wait for it to filter into the
marketplace. Storage consolidation is a hot ticket right now, and integrators are being
asked to take on large, complex projects.
So what's the key to
completing such jobs? Working closely with a trusted SAN vendor and using management
software that supports multiple product lines, including those offered by the software
vendor's competitors.
Case in point: Los Angeles-based Northrop
Grumman Corp., which in August won a $10.5 million contract from the Army National Guard
to unify its 54 data centers.
"We're combining all the data
from all of our states and territories into one SAN solution," said Larry Borkowski,
the National Guard's chief of automation and plans.
In addition to
provisioning storage for those offices that don't have any networked storage, Northrop
Grumman will have to incorporate any existing SANs previously purchased at the state and
territory level.
To do the job, the company tapped EMC Corp.,
Hopkinton, Mass. The storage vendor had an automated information storage management
initiative called AutoIS, in which it swaps application program interfaces with other SAN
vendors for use in its own management software.
As a result,
Northrop Grumman could use EMC's software not only to manage its own solutions, but also
those the guard had run that were based on HP-UX, Windows NT and mainframe platforms.
Beyond promising interoperability, Northrop Grumman's close working
relationship with EMC was another key to the integrator's success in tackling this complex
job, said Rene LaVigne, president of Northrop Grumman Information Technology's computing
systems unit. The partnership allowed Northrop Grumman to confidently bid on the job
knowing EMC could support the integrator.
"It is very
important in an integrator capacity that you understand the difference in the technologies
out there," LaVigne said. "You only get to do that when you work with stuff on
an ongoing basis and have an established relationship with that partner. It takes
investments on both sides to cement a relationship, so that we'd have confidence, putting
forward an EMC offer for our customers.
"It really comes back
to us if we propose a solution, and it includes technology that doesn't do what it is
marketed to do," LaVigne said.
For LaVigne, the National
Guard work represents a trend that integrators are seeing in government storage
consolidation. Having an integrated infrastructure allows agencies to develop disaster
recovery plans and more efficiently use the storage they have.
the National Guard network, for instance, the data from all the states will be placed in
second locations for disaster recovery and backup.
organizations are demanding storage consolidation across different product lines, the
message to SANs companies is clear. They have to "be willing to hook up their
products to a competitor's technology platform," LaVigne said.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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