Guaranteeing an Exceptional Guest Experience with HPE SimpliVity

HPE SimpliVity

We all know where to expect exceptional hospitality: relaxing at a close family member’s home, dining at an acclaimed restaurant, or indulging in a well-deserved holiday at a top-notch hotel or resort. While the ideal guest experience varies from person to person, it ultimately boils down to a high level of comfort, care, and quality.

At Arena Hospitality Group, we value that elevated guest experience and are always investing in quality at our 26 properties across Central and Eastern Europe. As an organization, we focus heavily on creating a positive, effortless, and luxurious encounter for our guests‚ and that includes every experience enabled by our IT systems and infrastructure. Our IT systems must run efficiently and reliably behind the scenes since any disruption can compromise the exceptional services our guests have come to expect.

You can’t confidently provide an exceptional guest experience without being sure you have a seamless #IT infrastructure. It’s our new digital reality in #hospitality. @HPE_SimpliVity

We are in the hospitality industry solely to serve our guests. If our IT systems are down, our guests can't check in, they can't order room service, and they can’t access digital amenities that we’ve worked so hard to create—and we wouldn’t be serving our purpose.  

Providing Services That Guests Don’t See

Until recently, our IT systems were not at all integrated. It was difficult to manage multi-generational systems across our properties in Germany, Hungary, and Croatia, and with expansion into Serbia, we needed a solution that could offer centralized management options. We were also looking for a system that could help us virtualize our environment. There was a desire to move forward with a virtualization plan to eliminate older hardware, but the project had been postponed for years.

Relying solely on regular backups, Arena Hospitality Group had no disaster recovery (DR) site, which meant we also had an undefined Recovery Time Objective (RTO). If an incident impacted our infrastructure and/or compromised our data, what then? IT would’ve been responsible, but didn’t have the appropriate means to rectify a disaster scenario. Although periodically tested, one can never be sure how reliable day-to-day backups will be in case of an emergency restore. 

It was even difficult to generate reports and make sense of the data. For some systems, we also lacked an appropriate test environment to determine whether it was even possible to restore the physical servers. There were many single points of failure, and if we couldn’t find a solution that would fix this—and quickly—our guests’ experiences would be significantly impacted.

So began the search for a solution to consolidate our multinational infrastructure using technology that allows for centralized management, integrated backup and DR, shorter RPO and RTO, with easier management and better performance. Any new technology also had to ensure efficient backup of remote locations with minimal data transfer. 

Converging on a Solution

The team’s next step was to assess different hyperconvergence infrastructure solutions. The team considered systems from several vendors, such as Dell and Lenovo. After careful consideration, the team chose HPE SimpliVity, replacing our installed base of HPE Generation 7, 8, and 9 servers, as well as Lenovo and QNAP NAS storage solutions.

One of the key reasons the team chose HPE SimpliVity was because its execution is just as its name implies: it’s simple and reliable, with a clean, user-friendly dashboard. It was critical that the system be simple because we’re not a specialized IT company, and the more complicated the system, the tougher it would be for us to implement.

In #hospitality, as your operations expand and become more complex, your #IT infrastructure needs to do the opposite: simplify and streamline. @HPE_SimpliVity

Our local implementation partner, Integra Group, is a systems integrator and IT consultant based in Zagreb, Croatia. They were integral in helping the IT team decide which vendor best met our needs. Integra also assisted heavily in the infrastructure implementation and were invaluable to the ultimate success of this project.

I joined Arena Hospitality Group a few months after Integra Group helped get HPE SimpliVity up and running. One of my first assignments was to continue the company's virtualization process. Although I was already familiar with HPE storage systems and Microsoft’s Hyper-V, I was new to HPE SimpliVity and vCenter Server management software. While that may seem like a disadvantage, the learning curve is not very steep; I was comfortable with the HPE SimpliVity infrastructure in less than 10 days thanks to its intuitive interface.

Enabling the Business, Supporting Our Guests

The key to our team’s success is enabling the business to offer an exceptional experience to our guests, especially as Arena Hospitality Group continues to expand. For example, if one of our hotel managers requests a new service kiosk, that typically requires a new server. HPE SimpliVity enables us to spin up a virtual machine (VM) and have it running in a matter of minutes, whereas before, it took time to source and implement the necessary hardware. The virtualization project has so many different applications in our properties like OPERA, and we’ve been supporting the unique requests from various teams, such as marketing.

Hyperconverged infrastructure from @HPE_Simplivity is so flexible that it’s easy to adapt quickly as the needs of the #hospitality industry evolve.

When we needed to upgrade Windows templates during normal business hours, I fully expected it to take a long time and for the process to disrupt both our workday and guest services. When I called Integra to see if they could help, they informed me that our new HPE SimpliVity infrastructure allowed us to replicate and upgrade our templates in a matter of seconds. I was so impressed and relieved that none of our users would be impacted at all, especially since hospitality services run around the clock.

Data replication is very efficient as it requires very few resources to fully replicate data between our locations. Now that we manage everything through the console, we spend less time on administration and monitoring of the system, and that allows us to be even more efficient in our daily activities and tasks. The converged infrastructure is so flexible that as the needs of our business evolve in our increasingly digital hospitality environment, we can quickly adapt.

Thankfully, disaster hasn’t struck, but through testing we’ve already seen how simple it is to clone or restore VMs. We’re confident of a very quick recovery in the event of a real DR scenario, ensuring the continuity of our business. Our RPO has now been defined to every four hours, which means we no longer wonder what might happen if a system fails. We can rest easier knowing that if something goes down, we’d only lose four hours of data.

These are just a few examples of how our newfound capabilities allow us to quickly respond to the needs of the business without worrying whether we have enough memory, disk space, network capabilities, or connections. Thanks to HPE SimpliVity, our data efficiency ratio is 73.3:1 and we have a capacity savings of 136.9 terabytes. 

Our guests don’t need to know or see these operations for these systems to have a profound impact on their stay at one of our properties. Guests are always our top priority, and now we can confidently say we have the infrastructure to meet their needs.

Pushing the Limits of an Exceptional Guest Experience with HPE SimpliVity

While I have had experience with HPE systems and infrastructure in the past, I am really just starting my journey with HPE SimpliVity. My colleagues and I haven’t quite pushed HPE SimpliVity to the limits of its capabilities yet, but we’re always amazed when we discover new features and applications. Even though the support of HPE and Integra means that we’re not on this journey alone, the fact that all the tools and features are available in the dashboard and are user friendly makes it easy to circle back to a tool or application. HPE SimpliVity’s response speed is lightning fast, and it gives us the necessary flexibility to adapt to the needs of our business as it grows.

I now have great confidence in Arena Hospitality Group’s IT infrastructure. One of the more pronounced benefits of HPE SimpliVity is that my team no longer has to think too much about the infrastructure—it’s simply there and it always works. We no longer have to split our focus and can get back to the mission that matters to us most: providing pleasurable, upscale experiences to our valued guests.