The SHI Customer Innovation Center: What’s behind all the blinking lights?

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Technology transforms industries. Advancements in mobile technology have made it so you run your business remotely with smart devices. Thanks to cloud computing, companies can capitalize on mobile tech, gain more flexibility, and minimize the risk of downtime and data loss. AI, the Internet of Things, and other technologies all promise greater speed, efficiency, and data-driven insights.

But while any new technology brings promise, it also creates risk. A recent survey identified the rapid rate of technological and digital advancement as the biggest challenge facing future global business leaders. How do you gain the benefits of new technology while minimizing risk in your environment?

SHI’s Customer Innovation Center (CIC) was developed to help customers embrace innovation and simplify technological complexity. In the year since it opened, there have been more than 1,400 unique visits to the CIC to take advantage of its available resources. Let’s look at how it has helped companies fully vet and adopt everything from hybrid and all-flash storage to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

CIC – How it can help you         

The 8,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, located at SHI’s corporate headquarters in Somerset, New Jersey, contains a set of diverse labs where customers, partners, and employees can design, build, educate, demonstrate, deploy, and validate technology solutions that transform businesses.

We understand that evaluating the latest technologies—whether compute, storage, networking, security, automation, cloud, mobility, collaboration, hybrid cloud, IoT, or virtual reality–can be cost-prohibitive and operationally inefficient for many organizations. At the CIC, our multi-disciplinary team of IT professionals helps alleviate these pain points by providing your business with the platforms, resources, and services it needs.

Our core offerings include:

  • Product and integrated solution demonstrations include a brief overview of a product or solution’s features and capabilities, followed by a live presentation of the software interfaces to provide you with a practical understanding of how the product and/or solution works.
  • Proofs of concepts (POCs) can help you verify that certain concepts or features have the potential for real-world application. POCs are a prototype designed to determine feasibility, but do not represent deliverables.
  • Pilots and sandbox environments enable product comparisons, design validation, benchmarking, multi-vendor solution evaluations, and more. We provide empty rack space, power, cooling, and VPN access, and you can bring your own gear or work with a manufacturer to procure the resources required for your project. Each pilot includes an initial rollout of a system into simulated production, targeting a limited scope (by the number of users, business processes, partners involved, or other restrictions) of the intended final solution. Our sandbox environments allow you to conduct break/fix testing, explore new ideas, examine alternate configurations, and gain hands-on experience with bleeding-edge technologies outside of your normal operating environment.
  • Testing services can help your business offload expensive, time-consuming internal testing processes, accelerate the development of new products and services, generate new sources of revenue, and decrease the overall time to market. Our team of subject matter experts will manage the entire testing process—whether  comparison, functional, unit, performance, benchmark, stress, upgrade, migration, or end-to-end testing–so you can focus on your core business.
  • Workshops and training sessions provide you with the business and technical information you need to make informed decisions and set strategies. You’ll gain insights on the latest IT trends, participate in whiteboard sessions, obtain hands-on access to some of the most innovative technologies, and much more.
  • Assessment services deliver a comprehensive understanding of your IT environment. We conduct an in-depth and objective review of your current state, identify gaps within industry best practices, highlight redundancies and inefficiencies, determine potential risks, and make recommendations that align with your desired business and technology outcomes.
  • Design and deployment services simplify and accelerate your organization’s utilization of new products and/or solutions. Our team of skilled engineers will complement your IT staff, minimize disruption, and help improve efficiency.

Putting the CIC to work

We’ve welcomed customers from the retail, public sector, legal, media and entertainment, life sciences, healthcare, and financial services industries into the CIC. Here are three of their success stories.

1. Financial services company reduces risk, costs, and time to market with CIC testing services

A time- and resource-constrained financial services company needed help certifying a new hardware platform that would run important business services. Instead of onboarding new employees, training them on emerging technologies, procuring and setting up the infrastructure in-house, and conducting random tests, the customer was able to utilize our testing-as-a-service (TaaS) solutions to save money, mitigate risk, and speed up service delivery.

The company worked with the CIC team as an extension of their organization to set up the hardware, design an appropriate test plan, identify the proper testing tools, and conduct a series of functional, stress, performance, and benchmark tests against the various components of three different server platforms.

After evaluating the Basic Input Operating System (BIOS) configuration, firmware level, boot performance, raid configuration, disk encryption options, drive performance, and power consumption testing results of each vendor against the supply chain availability, price, and other factors, the client was able to make a final purchasing decision.

2. CIC workshop helps local government agency accelerate HCI solution evaluations

A local government agency with limited resources wanted to modernize its data center and replace the traditional three-tier architecture with a new HCI solution before its existing hardware and software maintenance contracts expired.

The organization was able to simplify and streamline its solution evaluation and selection process using the CIC’s variety of HCI technologies, which can be readily integrated with other aspects of the data center, like orchestration, automation, software-defined networking (SDN), data protection, and disaster recovery.

Through a combination of product presentations, software demonstrations, and open discussions in our HCI workshop, this agency was able to examine the ease of use, manageability, feature functionality, and performance of the different HCI solutions and make an informed buying decision in record time.

3. Telecom company utilizes CIC POCs, pilots, and TaaS solutions to expedite new technology rollouts

A telecommunications company with limited data center space was looking to evaluate and test hybrid and all-flash storage solutions from several emerging storage vendors for a series of new projects without the hassle of connecting them to its own infrastructure.

Since the CIC team keeps its environments up to date by working directly with our partners for the latest gear, optimal configurations, and code releases, the customer was able to take advantage of our storage POCs to narrow down its prospective supplier list.

After the initial feasibility study, this organization utilized our pilots and testing services to validate the automation, planning, upgrade, operations, backup, performance, and fault tolerance capabilities across each of the three different vendor solutions. In just a few weeks, a winner was chosen and the technology rollouts began.

Why you should engage us

Technology is a moving target that will continue to transform our lives like never before. It requires a lot of time and effort to keep up with all the advances. Some companies, like Kodak and Blockbuster, questioned whether the labor it demands is really worth it. It’s no wonder they’re both out of business.

Technology adds value to an organization and keeps it relevant. SHI’s infrastructure, people, processes, and tools can help you understand how technology affects your business and which advancements you can apply to outpace your competition.

Contact your Account Executive or email us at to get started today.

Take a look inside the SHI Customer Innovation Center:

Network Operations Center

SHI Customer Innovation Center Pilot Lab (rear of the racks)

Cable management on the Lenovo cluster

Lenovo Nutanix HCI cluster

HPE Interactive Virtual Rack

HPE Synergy Composable Infrastructure

SHI Customer Innovation Center Showcase Lab (rear of the racks)

End User Compute Lab