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Why one storage admin fears Justin Bieber

HINT: He works for two girls schools

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What are storage admins afraid of? We imagine failed backups, wee-hours SMS alerts and vendor maintenance bills are high on the list, with rampant data growth a constant low-level worry. Warbling teen pop idols? Probably not so much.

Unless the storage admin is Dean Downes, the Chief Information Officer for St Aidans Anglican Girls School and its counterpart, St Margaret's Anglican Girls School, both in the Australian city of Brisbane.

Downes' reason to fear Bieber is that when the star hits the news, the 1700-odd students at the two schools start hitting their keyboards to discuss whatever it is teenaged girls discuss about Justin Bieber. As every student in both schools has their own laptop, once those the emails start flying the disks start to fill and data growth predictions start to look rather less pretty than Bieber.

Downes is no storage expert and provisioning HDS kit the schools used to run proved perplexing when Bieber-storms or disks filled for other reasons. Once it came time to replace that SAN, Downes' craved simplicity.

His eventual choice, a Dell/Compellent box, proved strangely hard to acquire. Dell kept pushing EqualLogic on the CIO, thinking that iSCSI was just the trick for an organisation of the schools' combined size. Downes' familiarity and comfort with fibre channel meant he wanted Compellent and eventually talked Dell into accepting his cheque.

Once the new SAN arrived, Downes said it took 11 weeks before Dell would send someone out to install it.

Despite the delays and the deal-making, Downes now declares he's dead chuffed with the SAN. “It's great to provision storage without worrying about disks and LUNs,” he said at a Dell press lunch in Sydney this week. “It's plug and play: I can add disks one at a time.”

And he'll be adding plenty more, predicting he needs “a few hundred gig every term.” The Bieber Factor is one reason for the growth. Another is that kids have started to submit some work as video, preferably HD video.

Downes wishes they'd think again.“SD looks just as good on a PC screen,” he said at the event. ®

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