The Inflection Point
Since 2007 the customer, a large Northeast US medical facility insurance network, had contracted IIS, mostly for servers and various other hardware. But as technology evolved, so did the healthcare industry – and that meant a transition to solutions.
One such solution involved data storage, for which the customer had used another solutions provider, but by 2016 their solution had hit an inflection point. The maintenance contract was running out, costs were spiking, and if a new solution wasn’t installed soon, the customer would have been locked into another year of expensive maintenance and suboptimal performance. It was simply no longer worth holding out against buying new.
But of course, the customer’s existing provider wasn’t the only company that knew the ins and outs of their infrastructure. IIS came in and changed the conversation with a comprehensive data security solution that would preserve what really mattered: not the storage, but the data itself.
More Data, More Problems
The customer’s aging storage technology was only part of the problem; the other half, insofar as one could call it a problem, was that business was booming. The client had established an aggressive expansion plan, acquiring smaller insurance companies and bringing more and more members onto its insurance plans. As any entrepreneur knows, that kind of good news brings difficult challenges: with data suddenly spiking, the medical facilities didn’t have the necessary storage to accommodate the new business.
HPE 3PAR and StoreOnce would solve those ancillary problems, but ultimately it came down to cost. The customer could have stayed with its incumbent storage provider, but IIS crafted a solution that only a true partner could have envisioned.
Changing the Conversation
Such a solution would never have been possible had IIS not earned the customer’s trust over nearly a decade of service. IIS had been installing and maintaining servers and hardware for years at two sites: customer headquarters in the Northeast US, and a secondary disaster recovery (DR) site in Florida. IIS was already intimately acquainted with both locations, and that knowledge paid off in spades.
Although the original ask was around storage, IIS knew the customer well enough to see the true potential of the right solution. In the executive briefing with the customer, IIS moved past the storage to understand how the customer was using its data: from a storage perspective, a backup perspective, and a retention perspective.
From there IIS was able to describe the following package to increase performance while storing and protecting data:
- HPE 3PAR: Uses compression algorithms to shrink data and allow far more storage per box
- HPE StoreOnce: Leverages the new compression technology and duplication, as the backup target for data retention
- HPE Data Protector: The primary backup mechanism
- HPE Recovery Manager Central (RMC): Oversees the above services, protecting critical applications and facilitating converged data protection
A major problem with the customer’s legacy solution – which would not have been amended by the legacy provider – was that developers could not refresh their environments without using production data. That was simply impossible under a storage-based mechanism: when developers wanted to refresh, they had to spend time and human capital to spin a new tape.
IIS bypassed the middleman by allowing developers to assign selective rights and tie into their VMware, which allowed them to run everything themselves. Certain admins’ roles and responsibilities could be enhanced on an ad hoc basis, giving them controlled access to refresh data without using as much human capital. IIS kept everything running while providing critical protection, and what’s more, the streamlined solution came in at just 30% of the cost of the competing solution.
On Deadline, No Matter What
The clock was ticking. With a one-year renewal on the current hardware’s maintenance about to expire, IIS had already crammed a 6-8 month sale cycle into three months. Implementation would be no different.
IIS locked down the facility over a weekend, tested the HPE applications, and on Monday morning the users were drawing data from 3PAR without knowing the difference. A full transition is never an overnight process, of course – much of the business was still running on legacy equipment – but IIS and the customer were on schedule to finish easily within the December 2016 deadline for full migration.
As with any implementation, the little things make all the difference to ensure the project runs as scheduled. IIS’ project managers have plans for details customers often never consider. Does delivery require a truck lift? Will a tile floor crack during delivery? Will installation occur onsite or can it be done virtually? If it is onsite, how can IIS reserve a space in the building? One never knows what can derail a project; IIS’ goal is to never let the customer find out.
The roadblock arose around HPE Recovery Manager Central. During testing, IIS discovered that RMC – a brand new product, at the time – did not support the way the customer had implemented its VMware environment. That sort of problem is not unexpected, especially for new products, but it left IIS determined to blaze a new trail, and not leave its client in the lurch.
IIS set aside RMC for the time being, and made sure Data Protector could back up the headquarters link to the Florida appliance. That appliance had been replicated to Florida, and the Data Protector software would restore for DR purposes. It caused a delay beyond anyone’s control, but IIS was committed to making our solution work no matter the obstacles.
Every day, IIS logs into the client servers to make sure nothing has changed. Given the time crunch the client had faced, the migration to an entirely new storage environment, and the roadblock surrounding RMC, Dave considers it the right way to continue servicing this particular client.
The client has already extracted incredible value from its new solution – even overnight backups, which had seemed a pipe dream just months ago under the legacy equipment, are now providing built-in performance on a day-to-day basis. Currently IIS is in discussion to add more storage over the course of 2017; as of now, IIS will likely take advantage of 3PAR 20k’s superior ability to scale, augmenting the customer’s still-new solution to accommodate increased performance and increased business.