SAN helps chemical firm

Everyone knows you can't do a good frac job without slurry.

And nobody knows this better than Steve Collins, manager of IT services at Benchmark Energy Products LP, a supplier of chemicals to the oil industry.

It's his job to give Benchmark workers and clients the computer resources needed to make sure that the slurry - a gel that turns into an oatmeal-like sludge -- is available for "frac jobs," where the gel is pumped into an oil well under high pressure to fracture the ground to make the oil flow better.

Benchmark installed a US$60,000 storage-area network (SAN) from EqualLogic Inc. in Nashua, N.H., about a year ago to improve its disaster recovery and backup capabilities. The SAN replicates Benchmark's Biz-Net accounting software and Microsoft Exchange e-mail data.

Collins said the accounting system gets replicated every night from Benchmark Energy's Houston headquarters to its largest facility, in Midland, Texas, over the SAN's 3Mbit/sec. point-to-point connection.

The SAN provides 3TB of storage and supports 130 people across three sites. "The SAN has given me better control of our volumes and data," Collins said.