How Verzuimdata Built an Accessible, Accurate, and Agile Data Logistics Business

HPE Storage

When your business is data, your infrastructure is just as critical as your output. Too many companies neglect the systems that underlie their operations, leading to catastrophe when they find themselves unable to keep up with demand for their products and services.

When you're storing and processing petabytes of data for hundreds of thousands of customers, you can't afford to fall behind in speed or capacity. That’s why you need flexible infrastructure that can scale to match your company's growth.

An Agile Data Logistics Business

Verzuimdata is a data logistics business founded in 2003. We are a Dutch service provider responsible for the exchange of corporate data between employers, insurers, occupational health and safety services, and Dutch government agencies. We collect, process, verify, and clean employee health, wage, and benefits data. We process the insurance, disability, and benefits claims of 1.5 million employees for 100,000 Dutch businesses. All of our data and services are available 24/7 via our web portal and data links.

Although we process vast quantities of information for so many employees and businesses, our organization is small and agile. We have 50 employees and an IT staff of four, and are dedicated to providing this vital service to the Dutch economy. 

Finding Infrastructure that Could Keep Up

At the end of 2015, Verzuimdata was taken over by the former owner. At the same time, I was appointed as IT manager after a stint as a contractor. At the time, Verzuimdata was running on infrastructure with outdated hardware without any contracts. We then started looking for a solution that was future-proof, and after a while, we were one of the first in the Netherlands to work with SimpliVity. We deployed a new data center running on SimpliVity OmniStack technology atop Lenovo x3650 M5 hyperconverged infrastructure. We opted for a two-plus-one configuration to address the needs of our primary customer, who had requested that we use a disaster recovery (DR) site. We set up two nodes at our primary data center in Ridderkerk and another at our Tier4 data center at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven.

When storing and processing petabytes of data, you can't afford to fall behind in speed or capacity.

It was a massive improvement over our aging HPE BladeSystem at our data center, and it allowed us to manage all our infrastructure from a single pane of glass.

When we purchased SimpliVity in 2016, we also purchased 5 years of support on the Lenovo Simplivity systems. When HPE acquired SimpliVity in 2017, the support conditions were adjusted, and we then decided in consultation with HPE to purchase a new set of HPE SimpliVity servers.

By this point, HPE SimpliVity had started selling it as a turnkey solution running on hardware built around solid-state storage. All-flash drives are much faster than mechanical hard drives, which makes a considerable difference when accessing multiple databases and storing, sorting, and processing millions of healthcare and employment records.

We discussed our needs with HPE, and after negotiations with some of their senior people here in the Netherlands, we went with a three-node all-flash HPE SimpliVity setup at our primary data center in 2018. The difference compared to our older SimpliVity OmniStack Lenovo setup were significant.

In 2021, the hardware support of the Lenovo Simplivity systems expired and had to be replaced. In collaboration with Lemontree (an HPE-certified reseller) and HPE, we have purchased three new HPE SimpliVity systems. Meanwhile, the Lenovo SimpliVity systems have been removed from the federation and the new HPE SimpliVity systems have been deployed.

Zero Outages in Six Years

Before the HPE acquisition, SimpliVity was a powerful product that streamlined how my small IT team managed our production and DR environments. Combined with HPE hardware, it has become even more efficient. In the six years since we spun up our first HPE SimpliVity nodes, Verzuimdata has experienced zero outages. 

When there are no problems with the environment, everyone is happy, nobody complains, and IT infrastructure becomes invisible.

That level of stability also makes it easy to open discussions about infrastructure with our senior management team, including our company director, who is not an IT guy. After the initial upgrade, we wanted to go all in and upgrade our DR data center to three solid-state HPE SimpliVity nodes as well. When it came time to finance our new nodes, I explained the proposition and financials to our director, and he left the purchase decision up to me. We can talk about the success of the environment, and as long as everything keeps running smoothly and everyone is happy, nobody complains. The infrastructure itself becomes invisible, and that’s what we want.

Exceeding Our DR Requirements

Although we haven't experienced a single outage, my team can keep our operations running in the event of a catastrophic failure. When we first set up our primary and remote data centers, our primary client asked us to implement a solution that could restore our production environment within 48 hours. 

We now back up our most critical VMs every 10 minutes. If a server goes down, we can spin it up from a backup in a few seconds. I In the event of a worst-case outage scenario, we'd lose 10 minutes of data, which is well within the tolerances set by the client. Should our entire production environment go offline, we can restore it in less than a day, half the time mandated. This new setup helps sustain our client’s continued trust.

Speed, Reliability, and Room to Grow

These updates has given Verzuimdata room to grow. Our duplicate three-node setups are more than we need today, but we are well-prepared for the future. Performance is more than we dreamed of, and we have enough capacity to keep adding customers and databases without buying new hardware for the foreseeable future. 

I'm a big fan of HPE SimpliVity. I've followed the platform's progress since I first heard about it in 2012. I'm thrilled at how well it has worked out here at Verzuimdata. Management is easy, and I would even go so far as to call it a set-it-and-forget-it solution. I can't recall the last time I had to troubleshoot an issue. 

Our new environment is fast, reliable, and has capacity to spare. It is the solid foundation Verzuimdata needs to provide our customers with employee health, wage, and benefits data that is 100% secure, correct, up to date, and accessible 24/7.