The International Image Processing Company, or IIP, provides a proprietary digital imaging service to academic, educational, and government institutions throughout the United States. Its computer imaging services provide clients with the ability to transfer physical documents, such as historical books, documents, and newspapers, as well as photographic images, such as historical photos, video images, and medical images, into digital media. The companys clients range from major universities to some of the largest archival government institutions.
Despite the scope of its clients, IIP is a small business with less than $5 million in revenues , with plans to grow threefold in five years if it can increase its capacities to bring on more clients. IIP has a small but distributed business organization with headquarters in Texas and major client work sites in New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Due to the nature of IIPs work, its IT staff is integrated into the specialized work force that the company employsgiven the digital scanning software and processes that are integral to their work. The company also employs two dedicated IT techniciansone for hardware and another responsible for infrastructure software. Additional IT- related activities are handled through the imaging software support and configuration personnel.
The company was challenged by its dependencies on storage, created through its software scanning processes that were increasingly exacerbated by new clients. Daily operations could quickly utilize a terabyte of data storage. Because the imaging scanning product was archived to clients using both optical and tape storage devices, if operations ran short on available storage, the imaging processes would slow and eventually stop until sufficient space was freed up for operations. This slowed billing and eventually cash flow.
The storage situation reached critical levels that started to impact the companys ability to handle new clients and subsequently impacted its planned business growth.
IIP was in the classic predicament of needing a high-performance solution, while being restricted by a minimum budget and a limited IT staff. The evaluation of potential storage solutions ranged from storage area networks (SANs) to IDE RAID solutions. While a network attached storage (NAS) solution would satisfy the size requirement, NAS remained a problematic solution because it also had to be managed remotely at the New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco sites.
IIP chose a general-purpose solution, even though its processes were largely proprietary, which was a matter of thoughtful strategy on IIPs part to utilize standard hardware and OS platforms. The NAS solution was chosen for its ability to integrate easily into a small IP environment, while being able to deploy remotely with some level of remote management.
This case study will discuss the IIP storage and related processing problems and challenges in detail. These drove the activities involved in identifying the companys workload and analyzing potential storage solutions. Finally, we discuss how IIP concluded with the decision to implement NAS and the subsequent transition to the new storage model.