Flexible Architecture to Support a New IT Services Model
IT professionals are constantly chasing moving targets. Hardware and software evolve so quickly it’s easy to make expensive mistakes. If you don’t choose wisely, today’s solution may be obsolete tomorrow, impacting your business and customers. This is especially true for service providers, who must keep one step ahead of clients.
But how do you choose infrastructure that anticipates users’ needs and technology coming down the pipeline? The answer is finding a partner with a robust solutions portfolio who can help you navigate the bewildering array of products available to you.
Suboptimal Infrastructure Held Us Back
DSolution found itself in precisely that situation. Our IT infrastructure was suboptimal, lacking the storage and compute to deliver new services to our customers. DSolution is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, a city wired for 10-gigabit fiber connectivity. We lacked the resources to offer our small and medium business customers the latest cloud-based and remote services and applications optimized for our municipal network. Originally a hosting company, we had built a data center and started offering an array of competitive IT solutions, including networking, help desk, managed services, and cloud services, but it was now outdated.
I’ve been with the company since 2016, and helped start our IT Services division. We built the department almost from scratch and grew it through acquisitions, adding services, and expanding our customer base. A couple of years ago, our data center started showing its age. We had to renew our hardware and service agreements to remain competitive, expand our product portfolio, and take advantage of the latest technology. So, we started exploring our options.
Finding Security and Flexibility in One
Early in the process, we considered buying hardware and managing the data center ourselves, but a colleague suggested the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform that could be managed with HPE GreenLake Management Services (GMS). We warmed to the idea of letting somebody else build and manage our infrastructure. We also liked the HPE GreenLake platform's hybrid architecture because it combines the security of on-prem hardware with the flexibility of the cloud.
The benefits of the HPE GreenLake platform and HPE GMS were immediately apparent: We could modernize our data center with scalable, always up-to-date infrastructure, rein in and predict our IT spend, and offload hardware deployment and maintenance, freeing our IT team to focus on building better services. This approach also eliminated the risk of choosing the wrong equipment. If our requirements changed, we could add or subtract capacity and modify our service agreement to reflect our future needs.
Plus, we would be dealing with an industry leader in Hewlett Packer Enterprise (HPE), ensuring timely updates, world-class support, and continuous new product releases responding to emerging IT trends.
Architecting a New Data Center
Stockholm has a tightly-knit IT community. We were introduced to HPE Sweden head Toni Drk, who recommended a local distributor and other contacts at HPE who could help evaluate our needs and architect a solution. We also did some calculations: Choosing HPE GreenLake and offloading infrastructure to HPE GMS is cheaper than the cost of a full-time administrator. Once we had the information we needed, we ordered the necessary equipment to realize our goals.
The foundation of our data center is HPE Alletra 6030 dual-controller all-flash storage arrays. These beautiful machines feature 24 enclosures, redundant storage controls, Triple+ Parity RAID for data protection, and 99.9999% guaranteed availability. They can easily scale to 368 TB and use high-performance NVMe SSDs perfect for high-bandwidth, low-latency applications like databases. We pair these with cost-effective HPE MSA 2060 flash-ready hybrid storage arrays for long-term storage and applications that don’t require top performance. For compute, we use and rely on HPE ProLiant DL360 servers. We host all of our customers’ applications, and these servers offer reliability and performance that is optimized for any workload.
Our new infrastructure takes full advantage of Stockholm’s 10-gigabit network, enabling us to offer on-demand file servers as a service to our customers. Instead of hosting resources on their premises, they connect to our HPE storage and compute through the city’s fiber-optic pipeline and enjoy scalable high-availability performance that we manage for them. It is available in all of Sweden, and is the first of many new services made possible by our new infrastructure.
HPE Stands Behind Its Solutions and Partners
A solution is only as good as the team behind it. As I mentioned, support was a key driver behind our decision, and HPE has been stellar in that area. We are in constant communication with HPE Sweden representatives here in Stockholm because they’re easy to reach, care about our customer experience, and fully back their products and promises. The Stockholm HPE team serves as a go-between with the GMS team, which is helping us set up and document workflows and iron out issues with our infrastructure.
HPE’s Stockholm office also came to the rescue when we had a staffing issue in the middle of our HPE GreenLake platform deployment. I firmly believe that HPE should handle everything up to the hypervisor. That is, they should deliver the storage, compute, OS, and management software, but leave it up to us to configure our virtual machines. But when one of our technicians left the company during the process, HPE Sweden stepped in to help us find a replacement. They didn’t have to do that, but their actions allowed us to keep the project on track, demonstrating their commitment to us as a customer.
Our HPE distributor, TD SYNNEX, also came through during the deployment, lending us equipment to host our services delivery of the HPE solution was delayed. It was reassuring to see that HPE chooses partners carefully, working with firms that can offer extra support when the unexpected occurs. This further reinforced our confidence in our partnership.
The Freedom to Innovate
After months of preparation, we began hosting customers’ applications and data on our new infrastructure in the fall of 2022. It is a tremendous responsibility, but we are confident in our ability to succeed because we no longer worry about capacity. HPE has given us the flexibility to respond to our diverse customer base and to build new services to meet their evolving needs. We are currently working with HPE to develop disaster recovery (DR) and backup solutions that leverage our new data center. Should we encounter any bottlenecks, we know we can scale our storage arrays, servers, and virtual machines because HPE has given us the freedom to innovate.
We leave managing our hardware in HPE's capable hands so we can build better products for our customers. We feel safer offering our services to customers that have disk-intensive applications and applications that depend on reading databases. Before, we offered colocation services instead of hosting to those customers. Now, we can offer them more.
DSolution is a small company. We have 50 employees providing hosting and managed IT services for our small and medium businesses. The HPE GreenLake platform and HPE GMS amplify our impact by providing scalable infrastructure that is equal to our ambitions and assistance that augments our in-house expertise.