Doing Cloud Differently: Epsilon's Push to Extend Cloud Boundaries

HPE GreenLake

In many ways, technology is about imagining—and reimagining—what's possible. To do that, we constantly have to redefine the limits of what we can achieve.

More efficient processes make it plausible to manufacture products that can do more than ever before. Data analysis and AI allow us to examine the information and find hidden insights that can guide decisions. But the equipment is just one part of the equation. Technology cannot truly reach its full potential without expertise and ingenuity, which is why it's so important to connect with compatible minds. 

People who say that a technical goal is impossible haven't yet met the right partner.

Within the modern business environment, organizations can overcome nearly every challenge with the right combination of resources and support. Solutions aren't always simple, but with the right people on the task, the combination of innovation and ingenuity can often keep a company relevant and thriving through any ups and downs. People who say that a technical goal is impossible haven't yet met the right partner.

A New Vision for the Cloud

If these words sound personal, it’s because they reflect my current experience. My organization is currently going through a period of intense digital transformation. This process is not a unique journey, but it is one that we have endured in different formats for decades. 

Founded in 2009, Epsilon, Inc. was initially a government services provider. The company's guiding principles were that information technology should be simple to adopt, support, and scale. These principles have assisted in our work with more than 100 businesses and government agencies. Today, we provide services in more than 20 states and 4 countries.

Cloud services should be affordable, proactive, redundant, and feasible to SMBs.

I joined the company about a year after it started with the charge of helping launch the commercial division at Epsilon. Adding to the success of serving government agencies, we extended that vision and started to assist private companies. Part of this expansion was creating a hosting service through a multi-tenant private cloud. While that probably sounds normal now, 10 years ago, the cloud was still in its infancy. Many organizations were either skeptical about the cloud and how it works, or were not familiar with cloud technologies at all. We knew then that the field had tremendous potential and set off to find a way to do cloud differently. Instead of selling the cloud as another buzzword, we sought to create a service that was affordable, proactive, redundant, and feasible to small businesses. We allowed these pillars to guide our service, developing a truly reinvigorated experience for our clients.

Fast forward to today. The past several years have been a breakthrough period for digitization technologies such as the cloud. And as technology changed, we found ourselves in need of a data center overhaul. 

To Refresh or Replace: That Is the Question

Staying current requires constantly reevaluating ourselves and our equipment. Like many organizations, we started with an infrastructure that worked for the time. As our equipment aged it started to delay us on what we wanted to achieve.

Constantly buying new infrastructure to support growth and innovation can quickly become expensive. Eventually, you reach a point where the backbone of the systems starts to age. Then you're left with a huge capital expense just to maintain the status quo—and in the grand scheme of things, that status quo doesn't last for long. That cycle creates an increasingly acute sense of uncertainty every time assets reach the end of their life.

Several organizations depend on us for their services. If we take too long to make a decision, the delay impacts more than just ourselves; it has a knock-on effect on their businesses, too. So we had a choice: Invest the capital to refresh an aging system, or take that opportunity to overhaul our operations?

Fortunately, we had the right partner with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and that meant we didn't have to choose one over the other after all.

A Big Overhaul and a Leap into HCI

We already trusted HPE for the hardware related to our data center product lines. Over the years, the company repeatedly offered competitive prices and great service. Instead of receiving blatant sales calls, HPE was dedicated to building rapport with us and listening to our needs. Because they took the time to understand our company, they made recommendations that made sense for our technology solutions and for our customers. Their purpose has always been to improve our organization rather than goad us into a quick purchase.

Before our latest upgrades, we were already committed to a large variety of HPE solutions. We have been fans of the DL series of servers for a long time, and the latest HPE ProLiant DL385 and DL325 Gen10 Plus servers offer us flexibility, stability, and built-in security measures. The quality of the hardware with high density compute and faster storage were vital to our customers' cloud operations and virtual machines. We added new hyperconverged technologies like HPE Edge Line Systems and HPE Apollo Systems, which extend the potential of our networks by adding fast, powerful supercomputing capabilities across the layers of the cloud and out to the edge. And through the use of HPE OneView, we have deeper insights and continued proactive support from our environment to ensure maximum uptime.

I am personally excited about jumping into hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) as part of our business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plan. This project is our first adoption of HCI, and (among many added capabilities) it serves to add more physical redundancy for our on-site appliances. In this case, we went with the HPE Edgeline 8000 to provide a high degree of availability and baseline integration. What’s more, they built the system for extreme environments, so we don't have to worry about whether it can handle the needs of complicated client operations. 

HCI offers a way for us to expand on our existing capabilities. We can simplify management and cut infrastructure costs, offering cloud-like economics and scale without compromising the performance, reliability, and availability of the data center. What’s more, the future of edge places high demands on compute and storage requirements. Moving to HCI offers great value in helping us meet these demands, and we’re eager to realize its potential. 

Choosing Infrastructure as a Service and HPE GreenLake

Years ago, HPE approached me about a new concept they were working on called Flex Capacity. We continued to engage with HPE as the program matured and developed into HPE GreenLake. HPE GreenLake operates as a managed, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform that covers everything from the edge to the cloud. Best of all, it offers a scale easily pay-as-you-go model, helping us to avoid large capital expenditures.

The Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model is a great way to help organizations manage costs without sacrificing capability or flexibility.

The truth is, HPE didn't have to sell us on the IaaS model. We provide this same core infrastructure service to many of our customers, so we were familiar with the benefits. It is a great way to help organizations manage costs without sacrificing capability or flexibility. Under the traditional methods, any expansion requires large capital expenditures first. HPE GreenLake is a powerful tool for cost control because we only pay for what we need, which gives us the flexibility to save money while increasing services as we expand.

Because we chose to move forward with the HPE GreenLake platform, we no longer had to choose between growing our business or refreshing our data center. Our long-term viability as a company depended on both, but finding a dual solution seemed impossible. With HPE as a partner, we achieved the unexpected. 

Increased Capacity and Expansion 

Our goal of doing cloud differently is both possible and easier since we partnered with HPE and using HPE GreenLake platform. And because the platform includes asset management and support layers, we can take our services to a broader audience. That opens the door to accepting clients across the United States or even in other countries. Now we have the confidence to go national with our product lines and services, and we never have to worry about whether we have access to the resources necessary to help a new client.

But these aren't the only benefits. We gained a 25% increase in capacity right out of the gate, and we also reduced the amount of physical space for equipment. Far beyond simple convenience, we now spend less money for power to run and cool the systems. Paying less for more is the dream of most businesses. HPE GreenLake platform turned what could have been millions of dollars of capital investment into a predictable operating expense.

HPE's backing and support also free our internal IT workforce. Instead of spending extensive amounts of man hours managing our own systems health, we are now available to prioritize tasks that enhance the service we provide to our clients.

We provide hosting services in North Carolina, and we hope to double that business by the end of 2022. We have also expanded our brick-and-mortar locations and begun considering an even stronger push into advanced security services.

Providing What Our Clients Need, Where They Need It

Every day, we live our commitment to approaching cloud differently. We are not simply a local hosting provider. Instead, we are a completely managed hybrid-cloud environment for our clients. The options are no longer just between on-premise servers, private cloud, or public clouds like Microsoft Azure or AWS. Now it is everything our clients need across a diverse ecosystem of interconnected systems, users, applications, and data.  All in a cloud that extends to the edge, where the data is and the user who depend on it to achieve their goals with security and compliance in mind.

We thought we had to choose between a tremendous capital expenditure to continue doing what we were already doing well or expanding the success of our enterprise through moving into new regions. HPE gave us a third path and showed us a new way, proving that we're working with the right partner. Together, our continued innovations will lead to even better tools and solutions to reach a broader audience.