Maximising Value by Adopting a Hybrid Model for Systems and Support

HPE Compute

Having the newest technology with all the bells and whistles can be exciting but often unnecessary. In many cases, IT solutions simply need to work whilst also being great value.

Since 2015, I’ve been running the IT department at Linkforce, an integrated maintenance, engineering, and project services delivery business with locations throughout Australia. Over the years, I’ve witnessed Linkforce grow from a small business to now a workforce of over 2,800 personnel, with more than 2,000 people actively working across various job sites for multiple clients.

I’m responsible for all of Linkforce’s IT, infrastructure and networking, ensuring we get the most value from our solutions. The IT infrastructure supporting our activities is large and growing, and we reached a point where we needed to take a closer look at our previous setup as part of a larger digital transformation that also included a refresh of security and overall network.

Increasing Scale with a Hybrid Solution

Linkforce had been maintaining IT infrastructure the same way for about a decade. Despite regular upgrades, we started having several issues in our server room. We wanted to revamp our infrastructure to mitigate downtime and increase our reliability and resiliency—in both infrastructure and support.

Having the newest technology with bells and whistles can be exciting but often unnecessary. More often than not, IT solutions just need to work and provide good value.

We have a small technical team. If something goes wrong, there are only a couple of people responsible for fixing it. Linkforce operates at a scale where an hour of downtime can cause large disruptions to our workforce. We needed reliability while also freeing our IT team up for other critical work.

One of the big things we wanted to do was leverage some way to get more value out of our infrastructure. We could do this one of three ways: 

  • Continue to go the same route as before: paying upfront to buy the newest version of the same equipment, moving everything into a data centre, and managing it all. 
  • Go the complete infrastructure as a service (IaaS) route, moving everything to the cloud and working with providers such as Azure or AWS.
  • Try a hybrid model, mostly on-prem with extra support and a new-to-us payment model.

I thought the IaaS option would win out, but as we looked closer, we were inspired by what we saw with the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform.

Going the HPE GreenLake route would allow us to partner with an HPE support team to purchase and manage cloud and infrastructure hardware and assets. Specifically, we liked HPE Alletra Storage and HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen11 servers for their ability to simplify troubleshooting, removing a considerable burden from our small IT team. 

Getting the Green Light for a Multi-Pronged Rollout

Our managing director deeply values IT. He has never been shy about investing in technology for the sake of the company, but he’s also not technical by any stretch. I took our proposal to move to the HPE GreenLake platform to the managing director, and he gave us the green light.

Once everything was approved, we worked on a simultaneous rollout to refresh our network while adopting the HPE GreenLake platform and moving to two new data centres. We had a hard deadline of six months, and HPE worked with us to make it happen. They set up the stack and it took about a month for us to migrate our workloads.

Support Steals the Show

The most significant change has been the support. To be honest, it was a big unknown at the start of the project. Would we get value for money from it? I knew the hardware would be fine—we would’ve bought it anyway. But my big concern was whether we would benefit from the support, or were we just paying more for the same hardware.

That was the most important factor to us and has been the best part of the investment. We have the same team who handle technical support and the same account manager who keeps us informed of any activity. At one point, we had an issue across two different parts of the platform. We didn’t know if the bug was in the networking or VMware stack. Rather than two different teams trying to deal with it, we went to our account manager and asked him to work out where it was—and he did.

When an investment in hardware comes with full-stack support, the support can be the biggest benefit of all.

The additional support makes us less reliant on our people, so if we’re not available, someone can still address issues. In the year before adopting HPE support, I remember being away on holidays, taking phone calls at midnight because something was down. HPE has absorbed a lot of that work. They’ve already done upgrades on three hosts, replacing hardware and handling maintenance with no interaction on our end, which has instantly freed up some of our overtaxed resources.


When an investment in hardware comes with full-stack support, the support can be the biggest benefit of all. It’s like we now have an additional member of the senior technical team. We know HPE has it under control. 

Enhanced Security and Performance Improvements

Our network refresh included migrating to new Palo Alto firewalls and from Juniper to HPE Aruba switches that feature Pensando DPUs. Microsegmentation was a big part of the reason we chose HPE for the hardware side of this project. Our refresh allows for greater microsegmentation, so VMs don’t have to talk to one another if it’s not necessary. We have a lot of externally accessible hosted services, and we need the extra layer of security as a safeguard. Everyone wants to know how we’re protecting our network, and we can demonstrate to our clients how our new infrastructure helps us protect their data.

Beyond security, we’ve also seen big jumps in performance. Most of our apps have 400–500 daily users, but we have a couple of mission-critical, employee-facing apps that have around 2,000 daily users. Our core is a mobile app that runs on a Kubernetes cluster. It controls the scheduling of all our employees, including communications and flights.

By moving to the HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen11 servers and leveraging the AMD processors, the latency on our scheduling app was cut in half. We obviously noticed the improvement on the back end, but even the users noticed when a page loads in five seconds, not 10.

Take something as simple as time sheets. Our whole business is driven by time sheets. Any month, we’ll do hundreds of thousands of hours of time-sheeted work. So hearing team leads talk about how much faster those time sheets are loading, multiplied by how many people access that, shows us that our new infrastructure has saved us a massive amount of time and greatly impacted our work.

Small Improvements that Lead to Greater Freedom

We didn’t need all the most amazing bells and whistles. We just wanted a reliable stack that was cost-effective, with good support, that worked. The benefits come from all the small improvements that add up and increase the value of the overall product.

Now that we have completed the major migration, we have gained the freedom and flexibility to push more technology down to our end users. Rather than focus on troubleshooting, we can focus on improving the user experience for our clients in new and exciting ways.