Design-build firm revs up disaster recovery with HPE SimpliVity

Running the risk of crippling downtime

Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, The Neenan Company is a fully integrated design-build firm with a small IT team
of three professionals responsible for protecting the 40 mission-critical virtual machines (VMs) and associated
applications that keep the business running. Comprehensive, efficient disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity are a top priority for the team.

The Neenan Company partners with NexCore Group, a healthcare real-estate development, acquisition, and management company based in Denver. NexCore manages similar mission-critical applications and has comparable DR needs. The two companies were quickly approaching their respective performance and cost ceilings and needed a safer, more cost-effective solution.

Neenan and NexCore were relying on linear tape open (LTO) technology, coupled with the Veeam image backup system, as their preferred DR method. However, as the quantity of each company’s data grew, so too did the DR requirements within their data centers.

The companies were in constant danger of a crippling hardware failure—an increasingly plausible prospect as their data footprints ballooned. Depending upon how many hard disks were damaged, the companies ran the risk of incurring downtime of 48 hours or more.

Both companies also had significant concerns regarding potential damage from natural disasters to the physical equipment (onsite hardware and backup tapes) within their data centers. Given the weekly tape pick-up cycle, the firms were seeking a better system that did not put an entire week’s worth of work in jeopardy.

While improving both companies’ DR capabilities was a top priority, George Dial, IT manager at Neenan and an IT contractor at NexCore, saw an opportunity to also conduct a technology refresh of the two data centers. By leveraging a new solution, he planned to reduce annual maintenance and operating expenses. Dial decided to look for a hyperconverged data virtualization platform that would reduce both hardware costs (including associated maintenance) and overall physical equipment needs.

Deploying dual disaster recovery solutions

Dial and his team evaluated HPE SimpliVity and found that it exceeded their needs—and it would cost less than the companies’ existing solution. “I was looking for a DR solution. I wasn’t really concerned with finding something superfast, but I knew I needed some new ESX servers,” says Dial. “However, when I saw the demo I realized that I could get new ESX servers, new storage and, most importantly, rapid DR. I was looking for one fix and found three.”

Realizing that they could act as one another’s offsite DR sites and seeing the value in HPE SimpliVity’s virtualization capabilities, Neenan and NexCore, which are 60 miles apart, installed two HPE SimpliVity systems in Fort Collins and two in Denver, respectively. Installation and onboarding was completed within a few days, and the team was soon up and running with all 40 mission-critical VMs on HPE SimpliVity. With this unique setup, the two companies effectively decreased complexity and increased efficiency.

Due to HPE SimpliVity’s versatility, Dial and his team could also integrate the new hyperconverged infrastructure with some of the companies’ existing systems. For networking, the team leveraged trunked 4×1 GbE ports on their Ethernet switches. For added protection, they not only began using HPE SimpliVity’s lightning-fast DR and backup, but also leveraged the legacy Veeam system and, occasionally, leftover LTO tapes.

Data protection that lets IT rest easy

Since switching to HPE SimpliVity, Neenan and NexCore have seen significant improvements in their DR and backup capabilities. Neenan’s performance alone has increased more than 75%, and it has saved 100:1 to 200:1 in terms of capacity.

With backups now being exchanged between the two companies’ different locations and no need for physical offloading, Dial and his team can rest easy when it comes to data protection. What would have taken up to 48 hours to complete can now be done in a few hours, with no need for an expensive offsite DR facility.

In addition to outstanding DR, Dial and his team were impressed with the hyperconverged infrastructure’s impressive inline deduplication and compression, something they had not found in an equivalent solution from Nutanix. For the rest of the company, this was a major selling point when Dial suggested HPE SimpliVity.

“When they asked me why I was picking this solution, I explained that it simplifies everything that we are trying to do in a way that no other product can,” says Dial. “And we won’t have to address any high-profile purchases for at least two to three years.”

Besides exceeding the companies’ critical DR needs, HPE SimpliVity also drastically reduced both firms’ annual data center maintenance costs. Neenan alone saw huge reductions in physical equipment, bringing its setup down from three racks to one.

Both Neenan and NexCore are enjoying peace of mind thanks to the advanced DR and offsite backup capabilities of HPE SimpliVity. By protecting each other’s data, the two companies are ensuring a level of safety that no other solution can match.

Destination url: