Solution: Replace the Entire IT Infrastructure
SFS Group opted to look at not only the individual components, but also the entire package. The package included storage, network and server, and it extended all the way to the virtualization layer, backup infrastructure and archiving environment. The group named this ambitious project SFS PrivateCloud: next-Generation. Given its comprehensive nature, the project had a particularly challenging requirements catalog. Six solution providers accepted this challenge and submitted their concepts. The SFS Group decided in favor of the fully automated and integrated converged solution, based on Hitachi hardware and software as well as the server virtualization technology from VMware.
The design for this solution had been developed by Hitachi channel partner LANexpert, a system integrator for infrastructure solutions and services in the field of information and telecommunications technology (ICT). LANexpert had recognized that, for the most part, the SFS Group satisfied the necessary prerequisites for implementing a converged solution. According to Patrick Ackermann, business development manager at LANexpert, "In addition to the necessary harmonization of procurement cycles, it must be possible to integrate the workloads. Furthermore, it must be possible to adapt the business processes. All of this was present at SFS Group, which made it possible for us to prepare a tailored proposal."
Patrick Bichler, at SFS Group, confirmed that the competition could not match the LANexpert proposal. "Their proposed solution satisfies 100% of our requirements and provides the best possible prospect for the future," he explained. "Moreover, we liked the single-vendor approach, which met our expectations in terms of both implementation and support. The combination of technical competence, the technical solution and especially the software-based functionality, including the management interface, ultimately convinced us."
Create More Efficient Processes With Innovative Approaches
Converged solutions integrate server, storage, network and the associated management software, eliminating the time-consuming integration of a wide variety of hardware components that is otherwise necessary. The converged solution proposed by LANexpert is based on the Hitachi Unified Compute Platform for VMware vSphere. This extremely flexible solution enables the rapid provisioning of data center options and highly efficient resource allocation for cloud environments. Resources as well as server, storage and network options can be loaded, provisioned, operated and monitored from one management portal with this fully automated solution. The new backup solution is based on Hitachi Data Protection Suite, powered by Commvault.
Implementation of the converged solution at SFS Group followed an ambitious schedule. In just three months after the project contract was signed, the first migrations of virtual systems and data storage occurred, thanks to the quality of the cooperative relationship among all solution participants. "Innovation means always finding new solutions and accepting challenges. We learned a great deal from one another," summarized Patrick Bichler.
The SFS team also started the organizational changes in the spirit of cooperation by merging the storage and network team with the managers responsible for virtualization, server and backup environment. "We were able to combine the teams and name separate solution specialists for the complete converged solution even before the project started," explained Urs Lüchinger, team leader for Core&Windows Infrastructure at SFS Group.
"In this way, the various administrators were not only involved in the project, but also sat at the same table. The era of 'blinkered thinking' passed very quickly. What pleased me especially was that over the course of the project, typical network tasks could be performed by Microsoft ® Windows ® administrators and vice versa. For me, this was the confirmation that central management of this solution functioned properly and we were now really 'converged,'" he explained. "Starting from summer 2015, we will no longer teach new trainees in the traditional manner, but rather use the 'converged' approach." Pio Franco, the first converged system engineer in the SFS Group added, "The cooperation with Hitachi and LANexpert is fantastic. When there are problems, solutions are found and applied in a joint effort."