The hazards of ad hoc data centers

 In Data Center, Hardware

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a hundred times. Organizations start out by installing a few small-scale servers to back up and restore network data. Then as the business grows, storage needs increase, leaving IT departments to stitch together temporary solutions. These brief bandages often end up becoming long-term solutions and create a patchwork infrastructure that can leave organizations overspending time, money, and resources to manage their growing data stores.

This is exactly what happened recently to a point-of-sale and management software provider. The company’s ultimate decision on how to update its environment underscores every organization’s responsibility to proactively design its systems rather than take an ad hoc approach.

SHI PSO data center case study

Unmanageable infrastructure

The company was quickly outgrowing its data center as business expanded, and it needed a cost-effective way to revamp its storage solution. Instead of updating its current servers, which would have cost thousands of dollars, the company opted to add on two EMC VNX storage systems, three Lenovo RD640 rack servers, and four Brocade ICX6610-48 switches from SHI. While the new servers were a step in the right direction for its data center refresh, the company had no plan for implementation. Instead, they asked us to step in and handle the update.

Time for a data center overhaul

SHI brought in a master plan for the data center that drew on new and existing assets, and set it up for future data growth. To help keep costs low, we worked with the company’s existing idle hardware and repositioned the current servers to better handle the growing data volumes. We also helped install the two new EMC VNX storage systems. Finally, we built a new virtual infrastructure with VMware that would allow the company five years of growth without having to purchase new hardware.

Optimizing the power of every IT asset

Since the company originally ran on an ad hoc infrastructure, the full renovation streamlined its networks and allowed employees to quickly and easily access critical business information. Additionally, the overhaul better prepared the company to handle disasters, as the new system allowed for bi-directional failover that decreases recovery time in case of a network failure. The new, higher-performing storage center is primed to grow with the company.

The importance of early infrastructure design

This company, like many others, suffered from an ineffective infrastructure. Its storage plan lacked design, and servers were added not as part of a master strategy but only after they became necessary. While many organizations make this approach work, the infrastructure they create often fails to maximize use of their current resources, control spend on new equipment, and effortlessly scale with company growth.

Instead of developing a mishmash infrastructure, organizations should identify and design their infrastructure needs ahead of time. This allows the environment to grow in a straight line, without facing roadblocks or roundabouts. By adopting this method of data center management, companies can save money in the long run by avoiding costly overhauls later on.

I’m aware that not all organizations have the ability or the knowledge to design their data centers in-house, and for that reason, they should turn to external partners, like SHI, for guidance. If you have any questions about your company’s infrastructure, please email me at Todd_Perrine@SHI.com.

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