Pioneering Cisco HyperFlex in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Emerging Tech Scene
In the tech space, you have to try new things. You need to look at new solutions and innovative practices and incorporate them into the way you do business. If you don’t, you won’t reap the rewards of new technology.
At Blicnet, we found ourselves as technology pioneers in our home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was a huge step for us, and we learned that working with the right partner provided a remarkable safety net that allowed us the freedom to innovate.
Blicnet is a fixed and wireless telephony operator, internet and cable TV service provider, MPLS network operator, and systems integrator in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are a household name in our country and are known for our professionalism, high service levels, and innovative products. To maintain high service levels, we have to make sure our equipment and our data center is up to date, and that’s where I come in.
I’ve been with Blicnet since 2007. I started as a network engineer and was intimately involved in growing Blicnet as a service provider. When Blicnet’s CTO left in 2016, I assumed the position.
Moving from Convergence to Hyperconvergence
A short time after I became CTO, we underwent a data center transformation project. To maintain mission-critical services, we had to replace our aging infrastructure. We were running a converged environment comprising Cisco UCS S-Series compute modules and Dell EMC storage, with some HP servers and storage thrown into the mix. We needed to modernize both servers and storage, but it wasn’t in the budget to do both.
When it came time to make a move, I considered our options. One thing became clear: It was time to move from a converged to a hyperconverged solution. We have many different technologies in our network, and we felt that moving to hyperconverged infrastructure would set the roadmap for our future.
This software-defined architecture combines compute, storage, and networking into a single system that virtualizes the traditional elements of hardware-based infrastructure and makes it easy to add more resources as needed.
The Perfect Solution for a Small Company
I had heard about Cisco HyperFlex when it was first released, and it turned out to be the solution we were looking for. Cisco HyperFlex will allow us to manage our data center more easily and scale our operations as needed. When we run out of memory or CPU power, we can add new storage and compute nodes instead of racking and cabling new servers and storage arrays. Because we deal with a single supplier and can add identical modules that require minimal setup, there will be less physical complexity at our data center, and that makes it easier to budget for upgrades.
Our team was split about whether to continue with more well-known solutions or to take a chance on a solution that was new to the region, but we also knew that Cisco has a solid reputation. My personal history with Cisco stretches back to 2001, and I know from experience that Cisco offers excellent support, including online documentation and self-service knowledge portals. I’ve never encountered a problem with Cisco solutions that I couldn’t solve. I also appreciate how Cisco provides comprehensive technology roadmaps that let us know what’s coming and when our products are approaching end of life. As a small telecommunications operator, we don’t have the financial resources to replace our equipment every few years, so we need to maximize its lifespan and plan for future purchases.
Moving to a new system was a big deal for us, but ultimately, we thought that if a solution came from Cisco, it had to work. Even though we were pioneers as the first company to use Cisco HyperFlex in our region, I was confident we’d made the right choice. Throughout the implementation of this project, we also had great support from local Cisco partner Prointer ITSS. They were very cooperative and responsive, exceeding our expectations.
A Calculated Move for the Future
Blicnet is currently in the planning, configuration, and testing phase of our HyperFlex migration. Over the next two years, we will move our most essential services to Cisco HyperFlex and stop upgrading our old, converged infrastructure. We may keep a few non-critical applications on our aging servers and continue to use them for testing purposes and as a failover. That said, we will eventually host everything else in our Cisco HyperFlex environment.
Embracing Cisco HyperFlex was a calculated move. Blicnet could have gone with the latest iteration of our converged infrastructure and leveraged our engineers’ existing expertise. Instead, we saw this as a chance to be the first to learn this new technology in our region, which would give us a competitive edge.
While the core of Blicnet’s activities continues to be our telephony, internet, cable, and MPLS services, this part of our business is slowing. This is a global trend that all Telecom operators must adapt to. We need to get closer to the customer, understand his needs and as system integrator offer a complete solution. Technology is changing and our enterprise customers need a partner to help them navigate the IT maze by proposing and implementing cutting-edge solutions.
We are using Cisco HyperFlex internally as the heart of the data center that will power our next generation of network and telephony services. But we are also looking at the bigger picture. Our engineers are learning the ins and outs of Cisco HyperFlex so we can then deploy it for our customers as an authorized Cisco reseller and partner.
Leading Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Technology Transformation
Cisco HyperFlex is transforming Blicnet by giving us the infrastructure we need to speed up and streamline our services. It is also helping us grow as a systems integrator. As the only company in the region with expert engineers versed in this exciting new technology, we are breaking new ground, forging a new path for others to follow, and establishing ourselves as leaders in the Bosnian IT and telecommunications space.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is a very small market and often lags behind other countries when it comes to technology. However, we can use that to our advantage by skipping a few steps already taken by other European countries and moving directly to newer technologies.
Our startup scene is blossoming, and our universities, NGOs, and governmental entities have launched multiple programs to help young entrepreneurs. As a forward-thinking systems integrator and infrastructure provider, Blicnet will help power our nation’s drive toward innovation. I am confident that our investment in Cisco HyperFlex will pay off many times over.