Boeing subsidiary shares storage-upgrade lessons learned

Boeing subsidiary shares storage-upgrade lessons learned

Keep close eye on consultants, data overload


Aviall Services, a Dallas-based Boeing subsidiary and provider of after-market supply-chain management services for the aerospace, defense and marine industries, successfully implemented a new storage scheme that doubles its storage capacity, increases performance and prepares it for future services.

Not everything went like clockwork along the way, however. Russell Douglas, director of customer and supplier services information systems at the company, offers some words of wisdom to firms that want to make similar gains in storage.

Watch the consultant. Douglas says the consultancy he hired first sent a knowledgeable person to get the sale and build the RFP, but later replaced him with a less experienced consultant. "The biggest lesson learned is that when you bring in a third party, you really need to be sure that you're getting what you pay for," he says. "We paid them a lot of money, but I was constantly managing the consultant. I would never do that again."

Keep your eye on the prize. Once Aviall's staffers had gathered information from several vendors about their various storage offerings, the resulting data began to overwhelm them. "Hitachi and EMC, for example, both started sounding the same," Douglas says. "We were overwhelmed with the amount of data and trying to analyze it in a relatively short period of time." Part of the problem was that the company was developing its criteria during the evaluation process, instead of doing it upfront. "That was a mistake," he says. "We should have had all that stuff set."

Get down to details. Although the EMC equipment handled Aviall's primary requirements with ease, some smaller issues remain. For example, the EMC gear has trouble handling Aviall's older Novell 6.5 environment, as well as its NT gear, making bare-metal restorations for those platforms less than optimal. Similarly, some metrics are difficult for Aviall to pull from the new storage array. "One of my biggest pain-points in the old setup was that the software for giving us pie charts and metrics didn't work well," Douglas says. "I was hoping it would be better, but we're still working with EMC to get that software working."

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