How HPE SimpliVity Helps My Small IT Team Support 350 Employees Without Breaking a Sweat

HPE SimpliVity

Like most IT managers, I've spent countless hours managing servers, conducting extensive data backup and worrying about our DR plan. I set out to find a smarter solution and was introduced to HPE SimpliVity. We've now switched to a hyperconvergence solution that has transformed our small IT department.

For 15 years I’ve worked in the IT department at a major brand beer distributor. During that time, I have seen many changes and worn many hats. We’ve grown markedly as a business and I’ve helped refresh our technology with the goal of improving performance and efficiency.

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When I first started with my company there was one server doing all of the Microsoft activities, but over time our complexities changed. We had already invested heavily in technology and had 15 physical servers. We did the standard stack, which suited our needs for a time, but performance continued to diminish. A year or two after VMware came out we knew we needed to do something so that we were not buying more physical servers.

Fast forward down the road and another refresh was in order as our VMware environment was about six or seven years old. It wasn’t just that the environment was dated; we also needed to get a better back up and DR solution. I started doing research on solutions only to find that the price points were increasing drastically for what I wanted to achieve. The pieces were there but asking someone to manage storage, tape or disk backup and not solving the DR solution off-site wasn’t cost effective unless I bought an entire other setup.

Finding the Best Solution

I was somewhat stymied, not sure what the next step should be. That’s when a vendor happened to mention HPE SimpliVity and their hyperconvergence technology. At this point, hyperconvergence technology was a relatively new concept. I started doing research and was intrigued by their ability to integrate storage, networking and VMware from scratch in a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor. It seemed well tailored for our needs and allowed us to afford off-site DR at a high level of recovery and recovery points.  

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Before taking the next step I wanted to speak to actual users to see what their experience was like. I live in Arvada, Colorado, and the city had been an early adopter of the technology. I spoke to the IT manager as a citizen and they really stressed HPE SimpliVity’s support. You want to know you are working with a company that will be there for you once the sale is complete.

At this point it was time to move it up the chain. I approached our CFO with my extensive research and told him that we could go back to what we have today at a higher cost to manage or further explore the HPE SimpliVity model. We ended up opting for the latter, originally installing three HPE SimpliVity nodes to one off-site. We’re currently up to four nodes compared to one off-site.

Perfect Solution for Small IT Teams

What has really stood out to me is the incredible management capabilities. I have a small team (three including myself) and we’re able to support 350 employees. That includes 450 iPads and iPhones with all the applications that run our business plus 150 PCs, all the printers, connectivity, a warehouse management system with RF guns, connectivity and routing software. That’s basically our entire business, and we support all of that with HPE SimpliVity.

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Meeting our company’s IT needs is the chief responsibility of our three-person team. One person focuses on our data, reporting and EAP system support. Another person does our frontline break and fix and provisioning, keeping email and active directory up and running, and I manage everything else on the backend.

When you’re running a small team, hardware and software need to be seamless. We should not have to handhold hardware. The backend needs to run itself, and with HPE SimpliVity I can feel confident that it is.

Using Resources and Time Wisely

I don’t have time to be an expert in VMware and a storage expert, which is why the ease of implementation and ongoing support has been such a delight. Having a really good backup along with DR capabilities and being able to take all of our core VM data and essentially do backups every 10 minutes and have a copy of that off-site gives incredible peace of mind. Essentially, if needed, we could restore to our off-site in minutes instead of days. That was really a deciding factor.

My team stays very busy and the last thing I need to be doing is managing servers and infrastructure. Obviously there’s value in knowing that the infrastructure is running capably, but I need to spend my time with users,  understanding their needs and ensuring the right tools are in place.

Easy Implementation and Support

Implementation was a breeze and only took a couple of weekends. We replaced three big racks of equipment with, essentially, one rack that has HPE SimpliVity.

It’s a given that there will always be instances with equipment fails when working in IT. We had a situation where one of the VMs went down and they resolved the issue immediately. Upgrades have been similarly seamless. I was actually able to go away for the weekend and come back and find everything completely upgraded! Now I have all five servers current, running and working great.

Ultimately, we invested in software that fits the needs of our evolving IT department. My team works smarter and more efficient because we’ve eliminated the tedious task of manually monitoring the servers. Plus, I have absolute confidence in our DR software and plan. For small IT departments facing the same issues that we did, I highly recommend HPE SimpliVity. Not only did it simplify our IT infrastructure, but HPE SimpliVity has proven to us that they will be there whenever we need them—and for that peace of mind, HPE SimpliVity has been worth every penny.