Executive Summary

A long-term IIS client had significant concerns about its storage environment; its storage arrays were aging and running out of capacity. Because of its aggressive acquisition strategy, the client enlisted IIS to create and implement an updated infrastructure solution. The client was migrating data into its infrastructure in massive chunks, so IIS implemented a novel Flexible Capacity system – giving the client the agility to add storage as needed without a massive upfront spend.


  • Backup
  • Data Migration
  • Storage

A Decade of Partnership

The client, an American aerospace manufacturing company, has several locations in the US and international locations in the UK, Mexico and Germany. IIS had maintained a close relationship with the client for more than a decade. IIS had previously worked with them to upgrade storage and set up servers on their behalf. IIS also provided support on an ongoing basis, including reporting new requirements on upcoming projects, handling support issues, providing special help with current projects, requesting products overnight, or checking the health of its VMware environment.

Your Disk is Full

Part of the client's business strategy of acquiring smaller companies involved quickly integrating their data into the main storage system. Unfortunately, the client's storage arrays were rapidly approaching their capacity limits; any sudden demands for large amounts of storage space by a new acquisition could be met with delays while a new storage system was configured.

Thanks to frequent communication with IIS, the client saw the problem approaching well in advance. They knew they would need to meet to discuss the optimal solution for replacing the old storage arrays. Yet the acquisition process is an uncertain one; the client simply found it difficult to accurately budget storage space when it couldn't say how much it would use. In addition, its servers, which used traditional hard disks with spinning drives, were on the verge of obsolescence.

Future Proof Solution

The client was reluctant to make the switch. Spinning disk storage was all that management had ever experienced, and they preferred to go with what they knew would work. Following an executive briefing with the client, IIS recommended either solid state drives or flash storage.

At that point, the client was also wary of cost; while solid state drives were no longer as expensive as they had once been, they could still be prohibitively expensive. The customer also considered using a hybrid approach – a mix of spinning disk drives and solid state drives – to save on costs.

IIS generated price comparisons of a half dozen different configurations, then presented the results to the client. After management determined that there was no price advantage to using spinning disk drives, they made a final choice to take advantage of the performance enhancements available from the solid state drives.

Flexible Capacity

IIS' second recommendation was flexible capacity (flex capacity). As a longtime partner with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), IIS purchases storage servers directly from them. Essentially, flex capacity allows the customer to only pay for the storage it needs; it avoids the massive upfront expenditure on storage that might go unused for years, and it scales seamlessly and efficiently as new storage needs arise.

This model worked by setting aside space as a buffer for the customer's use ahead of time. The customer was only charged for the buffer if and when it used it, and the buffer could be scaled up or down as necessary. This approach allowed the client to keep costs down while retaining storage space flexibility, and all parties agreed that it would be a good fit for the client's needs.

Negative Consequences Averted

After the new servers had shipped and were being installed to add storage capacity, the client experienced no downtime at all. Ordinarily, a customer would ask IIS to handle data migration from an old server array to a new one, but this client chose to handle that on its own. The client soon found that the decision to use solid state drives to avoid issues with obsolete hardware ended up being a good one – so good, in fact, that it discontinued the spinning disk hard drives shortly after solid state implementation.

Effort Well Spent

Successfully executing brand new processes after a last-minute decision proved to be challenging. Even though the initial level of organization was less than ideal, IIS was able to deliver an optimal solution with no difficulty to the client. Although it took time and debate to make a decision, the recommendations offered by IIS steered the client clear of a pitfall that could have had a major impact on future productivity.