EXCEL INDUSTRIES are one of the largest producers of plumbing products and accessories in Ireland. They manufacture and distribute an extensive range of products for plumbing, heating & building services and supply to many of the multiples including B&Q, Woodies and Heatons.
Excel were facing a number of challenges with their existing IT infrastructure. The server hardware was currently classed as end-of-life and the manufacturers were no longer providing warranty cover. The performance of the existing hardware had slowly deteriorated over the years as more and more servers where added to the infrastructure causing performance issues mainly due to limited capacity and data growth had also exhausted available storage. As a result the performance of many of the existing applications including SQL, SharePoint and Exchequer was poor presenting a bad user experience. The data backup window had also grown to unacceptable levels (12 hours) and was impacting daily operations and the RTO (Return to Operation) window was unacceptable to Excel at this point in time.
ERS was selected as the partner of choice to deploy a new virtualised hardware infrastructure and perform the live migration for Excel. After considering all factors and after speaking with multiple vendors ERS decided to implement a Dell PowerEdge VRTX – Shared Infrastructure solution which would provide Excel with increased performance, more storage space and higher hardware redundancy for a reasonable price.
A key deliverable for this project was a successful ‘live migration’ of the existing architecture and applications with minimal disruption to normal day to day operations of its 35 users. Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 R2 with its Hyper-V virtualisation was chosen as it could provide live migration and management of physical and virtualised servers with multiple hypervisors. The benefit of server 2012 being tightly integrated with the Microsoft System Centre Suite made it much more cost effective than other solutions in the market place. Other features available within System Centre included four main tools – Data Protection Manager (backup and DR), Virtual Machine Manager (provisioning hardware and workload), Configuration Manager (patching etcetera) and Operations Manager (monitoring performance) and all these would provide Excel with a resilient and redundant infrastructure that could scale as the business moved forward.
The combination of these new technologies, repurposed existing hardware and Dell AppAssure replication solution enabled us to configure a high availability backup solution providing immediate local failover to protect against equipment failure. This backup core replicates to an additional Dell AppAssure Core in an offsite datacentre where it creates virtual standby servers every time a back-up replication is received, resulting in a RTO of minutes rather than hours/days. Dell AppAssure also reduced the back-up window significantly due to better handling and compression when compared to the existing backup solution.
According to Tommy Shannon, Financial Director at Excel Industries, “Working with the infrastructure architect team at ERS was a thoroughly professional experience. At the outset of the project they presented the options available to us and explained the features of each solution. We found their advice to be invaluable and the process of solution selection straight forward. Deployment of the solution was performed with minimal disruption to our business and we can now rest easy knowing that our IT system can recover from any unplanned event. It was a pleasure dealing with the team at ERS and I would recommend them highly to any business looking for similar services”.