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Wells Fargo CTO talks keeping costs flat

Lucas Mearian | Feb. 13, 2009
Scott Dillon, chief technology officer of Wells Fargo's Enterprise Hosting Services, talks about his IT group's approach to keeping costs flat while improving performance

Wells Fargo is a diverse organization with thousands of bank branches and retail brokerages. You're getting even more diverse with the Wachovia acquisition. How are you dealing with that kind of technology heterogeneity?

When we started a couple years ago, we put into our thinking that the entire data center is under pinned with the concept of supply and demand management. That's a different way of thinking for IT. Typically IT shops run a good supply shop. It's like that warehouse group that does a good job of optimizing all the boxes. As more stuff comes in, they you try to optimize it.

The other thing we're doing a lot of now is standardization of the way we deploy servers. So they're deployed in a much quicker way. We also incent our businesses to choose standardization over customization.

Do you have an example of your supply and demand approach to IT management?

Tiered storage is a great example of what comes out of a supply and demand management approach. We can give you tier one storage or tier five storage for your business. One's higher cost and one's lower cost. If I can work with you on your business characteristics and what you need, then you're going to help us drive our costs down. We've seen tremendous benefit on that front. Then we've put a lot of work into getting our cost per gigabyte [of storage capacity] down and focusing on those types of matrixes. As [we are] focused on being a supply and demand strategy ... we created a three-pronged approach of stabilize, standardize and optimize.

So you also have to be mindful that not everything will be in a stage where it's ready to be optimized. We think many IT professionals make that mistake -- getting into a optimization phase of a technology when in fact they should be stabilizing and standardizing it first in order to position it. In the case of storage, or even virtualization, we take the approach that we should walk before we run. Let's not put the production environment at risk. Let's get to a common platform and put common technologies in place.

How do you integrate a heterogeneous storage environment?

You can put things like USPV [Hitachi Data System's Universal Storage Platform V] devices in front of your storage that will allow you to virtualize and provision it on the fly as well as allow you to have multi-vendor technology behind it.

I can have a Hitachi device or maybe an old IBM shark [storage array] sitting back there, yet I can dynamically get to each and every one of them. That allows us to stabilize and standardize our environment, as well as get better tools in place. Then you can get into optimization -- you know, how do we work with business partners to migrate things from high-cost storage to low-cost storage. We do that with everything, not just storage.

 

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