How to Scale Your Business with Hyperflex and Long-Term Partners
The vendor-client relationship is sacred. That bond is the root of everything Avit has achieved as one of the leading IT consultancies in the Netherlands. To succeed—and to help our enterprise customers succeed—we have learned to act as trusted advisors. After all, we’re asking companies to invest considerable sums in IT solutions that will streamline their operations and better equip them to meet their business goals. If we can’t justify the cost of our products to ourselves, how can we justify it to our customers?
Our journey began as a small company. Four of us started Avit with the dream of turning it into the company we see today. This long-term thinking meant we had to align ourselves with long-term partners. One big partner that we had all worked with in the past was Cisco. Fifteen years ago, VoIP was an emerging technology, and Cisco wanted to be the number one supplier in a young market. We already offered VoIP solutions, so it made sense to partner with a company we already knew, especially one as forward thinking as Cisco.
Deepening the Cisco Partnership
Partnering with Cisco put us on the leading edge of VoIP telephony. By the time the technology had matured from a niche product to a lucrative market segment, we were way ahead of the competition. While everyone else was in startup mode, Avit was already working on next generation VoIP services. We integrated databases and transformed call center management, among other things.
Avit has continued to grow. We employ about a hundred people, and have offices in Holland, Belgium, and Angola. Our engineers travel around the world to install solutions for our growing customer base. Our relationship with Cisco has also deepened, and we now offer Cisco’s entire portfolio of products and services—not just VoIP.
Avit is now a Cisco Gold Partner, and our highly trained engineers are among the top Cisco experts in Holland. We have more CCIE-certified employees than many of the biggest Cisco Gold Partners in the country.
When Cisco has a new technology, they call Avit first because they know we’ll run with it. We were the first in Holland to offer Cisco’s hyperconvergence and VDI solution, HyperFlex. We were also the first to market Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE), which provides secure network access from a single point across wired, wireless, and VPN connections. ACI (Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure)—which automates data centers and IT workflows, shortening app deployment from weeks to minutes—was another Avit first.
Shifting to Enterprise
Over the last 15 years, Avit’s focus has shifted from mid-market to enterprise customers. Enterprise clients tend to have a broader vision and a long-term strategy. Avit’s relationship with our enterprise customers echoes our relationship with Cisco. The partnership is a long-term investment that pays off for everyone involved.
We don’t go for short-term solutions and quick wins. By focusing on sales cycles and long-term partnerships, we are able to present our customers with next generation solutions as soon as they become available. These initiatives have helped Avit grow to be one of the top ICT solutions providers in Holland.
Moving to the Cloud
The second big shift in Avit’s business has been cloud computing.
One of the first lessons we learned is that 100% cloud adoption is for very small businesses. Enterprise customers want hybrid solutions which help them to be more agile to be able to scale better if needed.
Enterprise clients often end up with parts of their data on-site, and parts on cloud services they’ve purchased from us or other cloud providers. We supply them with a system that can manage data residing on multiple networks and cloud platforms from a single platform.
We also offer turnkey cloud-based solutions for enterprise and small business clients. One such product is Cloud Connected Hospitality, which is our service that connects hotels and resorts to our cloud infrastructure.
Cloud Connected Hospitality is an integrated service concept that serves over forty hotels and resorts clients in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Spain. We use a direct connection to our cloud infrastructure to centralize, manage, safeguard, and host all the IT services used by the hotel or resort and their guests. The software isn’t just for the check-in and reservation terminals, but the entire hotel network, hotspot services, security infrastructure, VoIP telephony, and all server, storage and backup systems.
The service is perfectly scalable. Hotels or resorts pay a fixed monthly fee, but only for the services they use. They can add or subtract features as needed. Avit serves as a single point of contact for our customers. We can also act as an intermediary between our clients and their other IT suppliers. By optimizing their IT service and offering 24/7 technical support, we help our hospitality customers manage costs so they can offer the best possible stay to their guests.
Succeeding with Cisco HyperFlex
Our data center is built on ACI technology in combination with a Cisco FlexPod solution, which combined Cisco servers and network hardware with NetApp’s data management solution and a VMware virtualization layer. The setup is a fantastic converged infrastructure for businesses that want a hybrid cloud computing enterprise solution. We wanted to add more capacity, specifically for virtual desktops, that would beef up our internal data center.
By the time we were ready to extend our Flexpod environment to support more virtual desktops, Cisco had announced HyperFlex. This new hyperconverged platform offered superior scalability for VDI clients, and a better return on investment. HyperFlex was the perfect addition to our existing FlexPod data center. The project was also a proof of concept. Our first HyperFlex installation was for our own internal use.
We were taken aback with the performance of the HyperFlex solution. The system performed better in the real world than on paper. After we went live, we discovered that HyperFlex is a very well optimized solution. We had significantly more capacity than we had originally calculated. The platform was even more scalable than we thought.
As I said, we initially purchased HyperFlex to run our internal data center. We ordered a small cluster that was expected to run 100 concurrent virtual desktops. It can actually run 20 to 25 more. We ended up using this extra capacity for our data center services portfolio, which was intended for internal customers within our organization. HyperFlex is now part of our Cloud Connected Hospitality solution.
This is only the beginning of our HyperFlex implementation. The platform is incredibly scalable, not only in terms of processing power, but also storage capacity. Right now we have four HyperFlex HX-Series nodes, which is one more than the minimum system requirement. If we need more capacity, we can scale up very quickly. The cluster can handle up to 80 nodes.
Following the Leader
If there is one takeaway from what we’ve learned at Avit, it’s to trust Cisco. Our partnership is very much a joint sales effort that is based on mutual respect. When Cisco launches a new product or service, or decides to become number one in an existing market segment, we pay very close attention.
Our fifteen-year partnership with Cisco has allowed Avit to emerge as a leader in the Dutch IT market. By choosing a long-term partner and offering the best products and practices, Avit will continue to grow. We’re now as scalable as the solutions we offer.