A Global Consolidation and Reorganization Based on Competence Instead of Location
Acquiring companies is a smart way to grow. Instead of entering a new market cold or expanding a division or product line over time, you can merge with an entity that already has what you need and fast track your growth. On the surface, it’s an easy win.
But while mergers and acquisitions are a vector for quick expansion, they can pose an IT headache. You have to bridge disparate networks, integrate different technologies, and deal with multiple IT teams. This degree of complexity can overpower your people and limit your company’s growth potential.
IT Teams Spread Around the World
That was our situation at BMT Group. We’re a family-owned holding company that invests in high-precision machining businesses. Our subsidiaries are industry leaders in gear and glass mold manufacturing, operating in the aerospace, automotive, railway, and glass container industries. Our brands include BMT aerospace, VCST, OMCO, and IGW.
For the past 20 years, I’ve been with IGW, which provides premium railway and industrial transmission solutions. I manage IT for our plants in the United States, China, Belgium, Romania, and here in Czech Republic. Over the years, my job has grown increasingly complicated because my IT teams were spread across the four corners of the world. My team members have been assigned tasks and projects based on their geographical location rather than their competency, making it difficult to allocate the appropriate human resources to a project or promise firm deadlines.
We were straining our finite human and financial resources and needed a way to consolidate our infrastructure and streamline our activities to maximize efficiency and productivity.
Restructuring IT to Accelerate Growth
Our parent company saw IT as the key to accelerating growth and bringing our many businesses into the 21st century. About three years ago, BMT decided to standardize IT infrastructure across our international subsidiaries and plants, including IGW. That also meant consolidating our various IT teams into a single internal service provider and creating a new structure based on operational priorities and functions instead of geographic lines.
As part of this restructuring, my mandate was to lead the competence center for base infrastructure across all BMT companies. I was responsible for standardizing our servers, storage arrays, voice, video, and data infrastructure, network security, and business continuity worldwide. It was a lot to handle, but I knew I was up to the challenge.
When I started the assignment, I looked at our existing infrastructure and our international IT partners. The bulk of our hardware at IGW was HPE servers, paired with NetApp and Fujitsu technology. I also knew from experience that HPE offered the best global support, so it made sense to look at the company’s portfolio of products to identify what could help us on our journey to consolidation and standardization.
Addressing Diverse International Use Cases with a Single Solution
As I explored this global standardization challenge, one reality came to the fore: our sites vary tremendously in size. We have smaller sites with 20–30 employees that use a server or two to share documents locally. These locations also run administrative programs and simple business applications, like bookkeeping software. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have manufacturing sites with 600–700 users, hundreds of virtual desktops, and IoT edge computing connected to heavy equipment and CNC machines on plant floors.
We also needed infrastructure that could handle our international document management needs. We have sites in China, India, across Europe, Mexico, and the United States, and our people need quick and easy access to the same documents. The best way to do that is to keep local duplicates of these files at each facility and make sure these copies sync across our operations.
When I looked at these diverse use cases from the standpoint of standardized infrastructure, one solution stood out. HPE SimpliVity offered the scalability, adaptability, and flexibility to meet BMT’s needs at our 25 sites worldwide.
Data Deduplication and Infrastructure Monitoring
One of the HPE SimpliVity features that stood out the most is data deduplication. As a manufacturing company, BMT isn’t processing millions of customer transactions, but our databases and documentation management system take up a lot of space.
HPE SimpliVity compresses and decompresses files on the fly with no speed penalty and frees up storage that can be repurposed for disaster recovery or set aside for future growth. Our business is data-intensive, and this is the one area where HPE SimpliVity’s processing power benefits BMT and outshines our previous infrastructure.
We have also started to use HPE InfoSight to monitor our infrastructure. Instead of waiting for problems to emerge, we use HPE’s analytics platform to predict and prevent infrastructure problems before they happen. HPE InfoSight leverages AI to make autonomous infrastructure a reality. It automatically anticipates and resolves 86% of issues, leading to increased availability and reduced costs while eliminating tedious and error-prone tasks like manually checking logs.
I am confident we found the right solution in HPE SimpliVity. That said, we are laying a solid foundation piece by piece and staggering the deployment of HPE SimpliVity over three years. We started by migrating BMT’s five sites in 2021 and plan to move another eight BMT group sites to HPE SimpliVity in 2022. By the end of 2023, we hope to have all our international operations running on HPE SimpliVity.
We began by renewing BMT infrastructure that had reached end of life with HPE SimpliVity and stuck to essential functions so we could learn how our new system works. We’re exploring all that the platform can do and will implement more features as we roll out HPE SimpliVity to all our locations. I’m especially interested in pairing sites for backup and disaster recovery purposes. If one of our plants or offices experiences an outage, we can failover to the closest HPE SimpliVity site to minimize downtime.
The real-world impact of HPE InfoSight and HPE SimpliVity is more than network stability. It is a one-two combination that reduces the burden on my network engineers. Once we’ve deployed HPE SimpliVity worldwide, I expect to assign no more than three people to manage our global servers and storage infrastructure. The rest of my team will be free to focus on integrating new technology into our operations or working on projects that will add to our bottom line.
HPE SimpliVity and HPE InfoSight are driving the consolidation of my IT team into a streamlined global entity and redefining how our people work. With a single architecture across all our operations, my team can focus on adding value through IT processes instead of spending all our time monitoring infrastructure and keeping our sites talking to one another. We are looking to the future instead of putting all our efforts into managing technology, which will accelerate BMT’s growth.