“Before SimpliVity we spent 80% of our time working on day-to-day IT administration and 20% of our time working on strategic architectural issues. With SimpliVity we now spend 80% of our time innovating and driving key business initiatives.”
– Brett Hoerner, Manager of Infrastructure and Support Services Coughlan Companies
Based in Mankato Minnesota, the Coughlan Companies serves as a holding company for Capstone, a publisher of children’s books, and Jordan Sands an industrial mining and processing company. The company’s fragmented IT environment was becoming increasingly inefficient, risky and costly to operate.
The Coughlan IT team standardized on SimpliVity OmniCube hyperconverged infrastructure systems across its geographically distributed enterprise. The SimpliVity solution reduces total cost of ownership by simplifying operations and consolidating equipment, and reduces risks by improving data protection. The unified IT infrastructure laid a solid foundation for Coughlan’s Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP rollout.
Business Challange: ROBO, Data Protection and DR
The Coughlan Companies has a multinational presence with a central data center in Minnesota and four offices throughout the U.S. and the U.K. The company relied on a mix of legacy equipment across its different sites including HP ProLiant servers with direct-attached storage, network-attached storage from NetApp, and Dell EqualLogic and XioTech SAN gear. The IT team manages the entire multinational operation from Minnesota, with little or no IT support at the remote locations. Managing the disjointed IT environment was a manually intensive, time-consuming endeavor involving a number of distinct administrative systems. Worse still, a full remote system backup or restoral could take days using the company’s legacy data protection and recovery tools. The company planned to refresh and standardize its remote office infrastructure to eliminate operations expense and complexity, improve performance, and mitigate risks. A key objective was to reduce or eliminate legacy technology silos to improve IT staff efficiency.
Brett Hoerner, Manager of Infrastructure and Support Services for the Coughlan Companies was introduced to SimpliVity by Works Computing, a local IT data center solutions provider. After a successful pilot Hoerner is now in the process of decommissioning the legacy remote office systems, standardizing on SimpliVity company-wide. “SimpliVity works as advertised. The solution is extremely easy to use and manage, and the company’s customer support is outstanding. Performance, including inline deduplication and compression, is exceptional. And the built-in DR and flexible backup policies are fantastic,” said Hoerner.
In addition to the ROBO project, Coughlan was reviewing its core ERP architecture and strategy. They explored a broad set of options including in-house and public hosted solutions. Coughlan brought in an independent consultant for analysis and decided to implement ERP on SimpliVity. The decision was based on the success of previous ROBO project as well as financial considerations.
Coughlan executed a company-wide Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP implementation on SimpliVity. The in-house deployment model offered significant TCO and performance advantages over alternative approaches including SaaS and IaaS-based solutions. With OmniCube, Coughlan enjoys the best of both worlds: cloud economics with enterprise protection, performance, data efficiency, and global unified management.
Going forward, Hoerner plans to leverage SimpliVity for a next-generation Application as a Service initiative that will enable internal customers to turn-up VMs and provision IT services on-demand.
OmniCube eliminates remote office operations expense and complexity by consolidating a variety of IT functions onto virtualized commodity x86 hardware, with unified management. Coughlan replaced multiple servers and storage systems at each remote site with a single 2U OmniCube CN-2000 series systems. The central operations team manages the enterprise-wide implementation in a uniform manner using VMware vCenter.
SimpliVity’s innovative architecture with real-time deduplication, compression and optimization technologies deliver breakthrough performance and data efficiency. The highly scalable solution improves performance while containing storage costs and radically improves data backup and recovery operations across geographies. With SimpliVity, Coughlan has realized overall application performance gains of 20% or more, including with their critical Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP application, and achieved 63% reduction in physical storage consumption. Better still, remote system backups and restorations can now be completed in minutes instead of hours or days. “The effective throughput of our U.K. link is only about 1 Mbps,” said Hoerner. “But with SimpliVity’s data efficiencies we can back up 2.3 TB of data from the U.K. to Chicago in a matter of seconds.” Coughlan now achieves superior data availability SLAs including the option for RPOs within one hour for all VMs and 90-day retention for hourly backups.
As well, cloning VMs for tasks like Dev/Test/UAT and DevOps is incredibly fast. Coughlan has one ~300GB SQL Server VM that took several days to backup using vSphere Data Protection, and it took two to four hours to clone using traditional infrastructure. With SimpliVity, the rapid clone of the ~300GB VM takes a mere 53 seconds.
Jeff Kletschka, Sr. Network Admin at Coughlan, comments, “Our confidence in our infrastructure has skyrocketed with SimpliVity across all dimensions: performance, management, and DR.”
Key benefits include
- Freed up IT staff to focus on strategic business initiatives
- Simplified solution to just VMware and SimpliVity
- Centralized and unified remote office operations
- Improved overall application performance by 20% or more
- Enabled extremely high data efficiency as great as 896:1
- Reduced physical storage consumption by 63%
- Improved business continuity and disaster recovery across geographies
- Backup and restore completed in seconds compared to hours or days