Data centers are rarely perfect, especially after they have been in operation for a number of years. Oftentimes, IT departments don’t have enough time in the day to solve root issues in their data center. Instead, they are forced to rely on quick fixes and patchwork solutions. These quick fixes accumulate overtime, and eventually, the data center is asked to do something that it is simply incapable of doing, and the data center needs a full hardware refresh to meet the demands of the business. Our client soon found out how difficult that process can be.
Our client is a local manufacturer of lawn care equipment, and when the business executives wanted to update their applications to new versions, they uncovered a mess of problems. Simply put, the data center was old. It was full of decade-old servers connected on a 1GB network with no vendor consistency. They had no redundancy, no backup strategy, and it reached the point where the environment needed a hardware refresh and redesign. However, a forklift upgrade of the entire data center all at once would cause major disruptions to the business. They needed a plan, so they contacted the consultants at Mindsight.
The Solution: A 24 Month Hardware Refresh Roadmap
In order to update their environment without negatively impacting the business, the Mindsight consultants drafted a 24 month roadmap to transition the environment from the old equipment to the new design. The key was to prioritize the upgrades to snag any low hanging fruit.
The first step was to create a core of new hardware upon which to build out the rest of the data center. We installed a Cisco UCS mini and eliminated some of the old servers. Then, we installed a Cisco Nexus 9000 switch which improved their network speed to 10 GB. Already, applications were seeing a performance improvement. For storage needs, we provided a Nimble hybrid flash storage array to support their main production infrastructure. That sped applications up even further.
Now that our budding data center had speed and resources, it was time to move on to other capabilities. The roadmap then began to focus on establishing redundancy, backup restoration, and disaster recovery. These improvements came in the form of a second Nimble device and a Veeam Backup and DR solution. Finally, we rebuilt their wireless network with new Cisco wireless endpoints.
Though the whole process took two years, the client was able to reap the rewards of the hardware refresh almost immediately. Applications began to perform better, the company was able to move forward with their application upgrades, and network speeds were drastically improved. As the roadmap continued, so did the benefits. Outside of speed, their data center footprint was reduced from four racks down to two.
Refreshing a data center does not need to be a logistical nightmare. With the right plan in place, it can be done in stages to maximize its benefits and minimize its disruptions to the rest of the business.
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