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Mazda North American Operations was spinning its wheels.

The auto-maker’s finance and account department stored terabytes
of data, none of which could be archived, and each time neared capacity on its NetApp system, Mazda had to spend a lot of
money to upgrade, CIO Jim DiMarzio told Channel
during an interview at the Rolex
race at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We had been changing and adding, and every time we
wanted to something it was a large dollar-amount,” he said. “We wanted to
upgrade our SAP system.”

Simultaneously, the Irvine, Calif.-based company was
virtualizing on VMware
and Dell
under the supervision of Kai Sookwongse, department manager of
Enterprise Infrastructure Services at Mazda. The car-maker wanted to stop
applying short-term fixes and find a long-term, cost-effective solution to its
SAP storage dilemma, one that would please financial users who wanted speedy access
to years of data and satisfy IT
professionals who needed to end the company’s reliance on NetApp
proprietary, expensive system, Sookwongse told Channel Insider, in an interview held in executive suite during the
early laps of the Rolex 24, which included seven Mazda cars.

North American Operations
wanted a solution that complemented its expanding
virtualized environment; that could easily grow to meet the finance
department’s continually increasing storage needs, and was affordable, the IT
executives agreed. It was a time of change at the car company, which was moving
from a physical to a virtual environment; 32-bit to 64-bit, and SQL Server 2000
to SQL Server 2008, among other steps. The company also wanted a sharable
disaster recovery system for operations in the United States and Canada,
management and analytics tools, as well as a solution that could be expanded

“Everything we could change, we did change,” said

Storage Shift

As part of that change, Mazda North American Operations
met with Sidepath, a long-time Dell Compellent
and Dell partner that had cold-called the nearby business, recalled Michael
Back, senior solutions consultant at the 10-year-old technology integrator.

The two companies worked together seamlessly, said

“In meetings, I had no idea who was Compellent and who
was Sidepath—and that’s good,” he said.

Sidepath, which has a heavy engineering focus, recommended
Dell Compellent’s efficient, cost-effective use of solid state technology. Mazda
North American Operations, which considered alternative options from IBM and
NetApp, determined Dell Compellent’s system delivered the best performance at the
most attractive price, said Sookwongse.

Solid state technology was most appropriate for Mazda North
American Operations’ finance professionals who did not want data archived but,
instead, wanted all data to be accessible at all times, said DiMarzio. Traditionally,
solid state is expensive, but Compellent’s solution offered an affordable way
to use a technology that provided always-available access to data.

“The advantage of solid
state disks
is data is available as-needed,” he said.

And Mazda North American Operations no longer needed to
buy new arrays every few years, said Back.

“They were on this treadmill of having to buy a new array
every three to five years. The way a lot of storage vendors sell their
products, after three years, chassis isn’t supported. They raise support costs.
They force you to buy new arrays every three to five years,” he said. “Compellent
doesn’t do that.”

As a result of the Compellent solution, finance users
enjoyed a huge increase in performance and speed, said Sookwongse.

“Feedback from the application team and business users
found that all batch jobs, all transactions gained performance of roughly 80 to
400 percent,” he said. “The bigger the transaction is, the bigger the
performance benefit is.”

In addition, the IT staff’s work environment improved
immediately, said DiMarzio.

“With NetApp, any time we did anything we had to have a
‘Maintenance Weekend,’” he said. “Compellent allows us to do maintenance during
normal hours, not nights or weekends.”

Added Sookwongse: “For us to do a half-hour of
maintenance we had to shut-down everything. We have 400 servers.”

Path to

Building a partnership takes much more, however, than
recommending a solution. Sidepath’s engineering-oriented sales team worked with
Compellent to demonstrate the solid state storage devices, answer the car
manufacturer’s questions, and transfer knowledge. After the installation,
Sidepath spent a day teaching IT how to use the storage solution and its
software tools, and then returned about three weeks later to review the system
and answer new questions that arose after IT professionals had used the
solution, said Back.

“We’re a boutique shop, and we focus heavily on our
customer base and have a high satisfaction rate, and we’re always around. This
is something we’ve developed over the years. We would do a knowledge transfer
with the installation. We get a lot of feedback from our customers and what
they’d like to see from us. We’re a boutique organization so we’re very nimble,”
Back said. “To our customers all these products are pretty complicated so you
want to make sure you’ve got the right kind of expertise around it.”

The first implementation of 20 terabytes for the
auto-maker’s SAP system was followed by a second of 70 terabytes. Mazda North
American Operations is adding a second SAN in Canada for backup and recovery:
Should the U.S. system fail, users will have access to disaster recovery in
Canada and vice versa, said DiMarzio.

Compellent’s management tool, included in the solution,
gives Mazda North American Operations insight into capacity planning that helps
the company’s budgeting, said Sookwongse. NetApp offered this, but charged an
additional $50,000 for the add-on software, he said. Likewise, Copilot Support
delivers around-the-clock, free technical support to complement Sidepath’s
support, Sookwongse added. The support center has information about Mazda North
American Operations’ system, and doesn’t waste asking background questions, he

“It’s almost like an extension of our own staff,” added
DiMarzio. “They’re able to help us right away. It’s all part of the package.”

Because of all these capabilities and improvements, the
auto-maker plans to migrate all its NetApp storage to Dell Compellent, DiMarzio

During Mazda North American Operations’ review of
Compellent and Sidepath,
the integrator was also coping with Dell’s acquisition
of the storage manufacturer. Yet despite some concerns about the acquisition’s
potential impact on personnel changes and channel policies, the purchase only
benefited both Compellent and its channel, Back said.

“Personally, I was somewhat worried about Dell because
working with a much larger company can take more time to get things done and
have more hurdles to jump through,” he recalled. “[But] we’ve got a great
inside team that works with us on registering deals and quotes. The outside
team is wonderful. They’re in our office all the time and we work together on a
lot of things. They integrated the Compellent team into them. The Dell team
helped us take on the other products. It took a little while to learn the
different dynamics of Dell, but after the first few months when we could
decipher who was associated with what deals it has worked very seamlessly and

Dell’s acquisition also helped reassure DiMarzio that the
storage vendor would be around for the foreseeable future, he said.

“That’s when the worry I had about them being around
ended,” DiMarzio said. “It’s important for us to know people are going to be
around for the long-term.”

Further cementing the relationship between Dell,
Sidepath, and Mazda North American Operations, Dell partnered with Mazda for
the recent Rolex 24 and got behind-the-scenes access to the SpeedSource team in
car number 70. Dell and Mazda North America partnered to host a VIP raceway
event during the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 race at the Daytona
International Speedway.  During the event, attendees met the drivers
behind the wheel of car number 70, the latest Mazda
series, and cheered the team on to its sixth-place position at the
finish line.