A major food supplier with customers ranging from small delicatessens to major grocery store chains located throughout the United States.
Years of non-standard builds and procedures for implementing technology led to an inefficient infrastructure. Coupled with the fact that the company had a major operations center in the middle of Florida’s hurricane country, new management determined that a new design was needed in 2008.
The company had six regional offices in the Eastern half of the US, relying on local storage and non-technical support staff in most of the sites. Two major data centers in New York and Florida were critical to business, but ran independently of each other causing inefficiencies.
- Government regulations required the company to pay its vendors within ten days of receipt of food product – a disaster could cause the company to shut down if payments were not made on time.
- There was no disaster recovery plan, yet the company’s largest data center was located in the middle hurricane country.
- Most remote sites do not have local IT support and thus support technicians would have to fly to remote sites when routine problems arose.
- Local storage and an aging NAS device was the only storage in use.
- Technical staff was not trained or proficient with VMware, yet had it deployed for some production systems.
- The environment had to be mobile enough to be quickly recovered and to allow for quick migration of systems to another site in the event of an impending hurricane.
- Management created an opportunity to address the entire infrastructure while it began gathering data to create a disaster recovery plan.
Physical servers were assessed and it was quickly determined that most of the 60 critical systems could be virtualized and moved to less than ten hosts spread across the two major sites. Remote sites would get a standardized virtual infrastructure consisting of file, print, database, and application services. Messaging was consolidated to run from the major data center sites.
To meet the requirements for the ability to quickly move running systems to hosts in another region of the US, a new NetApp SAN environment was built. Virtual machines, user data, and backup data was located on SAN units in each location. Each location replicated with the two major data centers and could effectively be locally shut down and kept running elsewhere if necessary.
The resulting environment gave the client several things they did not have prior – remote manageability of critical business systems, business continuity and disaster recovery plans, and a shared storage environment.
The remote manageability solved the problem of having to fly technicians out to sites which delayed repair time and was an expensive way to support remote sites. The cutting edge site to site replication and agile nature of the infrastructure gave the business the option of “pressing a button” to begin the short migration of systems from Florida to New York in the event that a hurricane was on it’s way. Locating virtual machines and user data on a SAN that replicated to other sites eliminated the traditional methods of restoring from tape, which would take several days due to the volume of data.