Making a measured decision
To bring new agility and simplicity to Haines’ operations, the company selected VersaStack, an integrated solution that includes IBM storage and Cisco server, networking and management components. In making the decision, Haines looked to long-time partner VSS for guidance.
Chad Parson explains: “Alongside VSS, we spent about six months looking at the different options open to us, before deciding that VersaStack was the right choice because it scored highly on performance and ease of management, and is built for virtualization.
“Another critical factor in our decision was that VersaStack could integrate seamlessly into our existing IBM storage area network. Adopting an IBM SAN with built-in IBM® Spectrum Protect™ Snapshot had slashed our backup times from four hours to just five minutes, a benefit we did not want to lose.”
Embracing a new approach
With help from VSS, Haines achieved a rapid migration of systems, including email and sales dashboards, over to the new environment. Chad Parson recalls: “The implementation went even smoother than we expected. VSS set up the new environment side-by-side with our existing one, enabling a painless cutover.”
Haines engaged VSS to conduct a proof-of-concept exercise to investigate the possibility of offering virtual desktops using its new solution. The results were impressive, and the company is now in the testing phase and will soon roll out the capability to warehouse workers.
“In our warehouse, employees need access to email and a few other systems but not the more heavy-lifting programs,” says Chad Parson. “We realized that giving these employees virtual desktops rather than full clients would enable us to optimize use of resources, and cut down on our management requirements. Offering VDI was too complicated on our old infrastructure, but with VersaStack we can not only provide VDI, but also manage the environment ourselves.”
Thanks to the deployment of VersaStack, Haines has gained greater control over IT. Specifically, the company can now resolve IT issues, and modify its infrastructure and provision resources independently, enabling greater agility.
“Previously, we needed help from VSS to make changes to our infrastructure,” comments Chad Parson. “The intuitive management capabilities offered by Cisco UCS Director give us unprecedented control, especially when it comes to troubleshooting our environment.
“We can now resolve more than 99 percent of IT issues that arise internally, compared to just 40 percent before. For example, we can now independently update firmware in about an hour, whereas previously we needed an external consultant to help us complete the process over around 35 hours. And, if we do have a problem we cannot solve ourselves, choosing VersaStack means we have a single point of contact for support.
“Overall, we have saved about 30 percent on the time previously spent resolving IT issues, minimizing the impact of any problems on operations. With VersaStack, we can adapt faster than ever, enabling us to act sooner on opportunities.”
With a simpler, more compact infrastructure solution in place, Haines has easy scalability options at hand, clearing the path to future growth.
Chad Parson concludes: “Moving to VersaStack, we reduced the equipment in our rack from 75 percent full to around a third, and yet we have gained all these additional capabilities. If we need to scale up, it is so easy that we could probably install the additional capacity ourselves, something we never would have said before. Deploying VersaStack, we have gained a platform for the future, which will help us ensure we are ready for whatever comes our way.”