The Neenan Company
Top design and construction firm, The Neenan Company, gains enterprise-class disaster recovery and achieves 75 percent boost in performance after implementing SimpliVity’s OmniCube solution.
“I was looking for one fix to a DR project and found three solutions in one.” – George Dial, IT Manager, The Neenan Company
Located in Fort Collins, Colo., The Neenan Company is a fully integrated design-build firm with a small IT team of three professionals responsible for protecting all 40 of the mission critical virtual machines (VMs) that keep the business running each day. Applications such as CMiC construction and project management software powered by Oracle 10g, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint, AutoDesk Revit, and collaboration software running on multiple Microsoft Remote Desktop Services app servers mean that comprehensive, efficient disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity is a top priority for The Neenan Company’s IT team.
Located in Denver, Colo., NexCore Group, a partner of the The Neenan Company, is a healthcare real estate development, acquisition, and management company. Despite having less storage needs, NexCore Group manages a lot of the same mission-critical applications as its partner firm and places the same amount of emphasis on protecting itself from data loss or business downtime.
BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Backup and Disaster Recovery, Technology Refresh, and Data Center Consolidation
For years the two companies, The Neenan Company and NexCore Group, had used linear tape-open (LTO) along with the image backup system, Veeam, as the preferred disaster recovery method. However, as the quantity of data grew between the two businesses, so too did the DR requirements within their data centers. The Neenan Company and NexCore Group were in constant danger of a crippling hardware failure—an increasingly plausible prospect as their data footprints continued to grow. This potentially meant downtime up to, and even exceeding, 48 hours depending upon how many hard disks were damaged—a time frame deemed unacceptable by their IT teams.
In addition to the serious recovery-time disadvantage, both companies had significant concerns regarding natural disasters and potential damage to the physical equipment (onsite hardware and backup tapes) within the data centers. Given the weekly tape pick-up cycle, The Neenan Company and NexCore Group were seeking a better system that did not risk an entire week’s worth of work.
While improving both companies’ DR capabilities was a top priority, George Dial, IT Manager at The Neenan and IT contractor at NexCore, saw an opportunity to also conduct a technology refresh of the two data centers and leverage a new solution to reduce annual maintenance and operating expenses. The two companies were quickly approaching their respective performance and cost ceilings and needed a solution.
Dial decided to look for a hyperconverged Data Virtualization Platform that would reduce both hardware costs (including associated maintenance needs), and overall physical equipment needs all at once, and he discovered the perfect solution while attending a seminar with value-added reseller, 1903 Solutions.
Initially, The Neenan Company and NexCore Group were looking at a combined $55,000 in upgrades and more than $30,000 annually in maintenance fees. Dial and his team also considered a hosted DR site with a combined annual cost of $35,000; however, they did not feel that the slight improvement in protection versus the price they would pay was warranted.
After attending a SimpliVity lunch-and-learn hosted by 1903 Solutions, Dial and his team evaluated SimpliVity’s Data Virtualization Platform, OmniCube, and found that it met and exceeded their needs for less than the existing solution. “I was looking for a DR solution, I wasn’t really concerned with finding something super-fast, but I knew I needed some new ESX servers,” said 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 SimpliVity’s Data Virtualization Platform solution, Neenan and NexCore, who are separated by 60 miles, installed two OmniCube CN-3000s in Fort Collins and two OmniCube CN-2000s in Denver, respectively. Installation and onboarding was completed within a few days and the team was up and running—with all 40 mission critical VMs on the OmniCubes. With this unique setup, the two companies effectively leveraged their OmniCubes to decrease complexity and increase efficiency.
Due to OmniCube’s versatility, Dial and his team were able to incorporate the new hyperconverged infrastructure into some of their existing systems. For networking, the team leveraged trunked 4×1 GbE ports on their Ethernet switches. For added protection, they not only began using OmniCube’s lightning fast DR and backup, but also leveraged the legacy Veeam system, and occasionally, leftover LTO tapes.
Since switching to OmniCube, The Neenan Company and NexCore Group have seen significant improvements in their DR and backup capabilities. The Neenan Company’s performance alone increased more than 75 percent and they have 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 now 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—and 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 with the Nutanix equivalent. For the rest of the company, this was a major selling point when Dial suggested OmniCube. “When they asked me why I was picking a solution that was 40 percent more than the alternative, I explained that it simplifies everything that we are trying to do in a way that no other product can,” said Dial. “And we won’t have to address any high profile purchases for at least 2-3 years.” Having exceeded their critical DR needs, SimpliVity’s Data Virtualization Platform also drastically reduced the annual data center maintenance costs affecting both companies. There were huge reductions in physical equipment with The Neenan Company alone, bringing its setup down from three racks to one.
Al Brunelle, President of 1903 Solutions, a SimpliVity partner, comments, “We’re seeing a new trend as infrastructure gets old, instead of just refreshing, customers selecting new hyperconverged solutions can get ‘enterprise-class DR’ included. Also, for the first time our customers have reliable infrastructure that allows them to finally take a vacation without being concerned that issues will arise.”
The Neenan Company and NexCore Group are enjoying peace of mind thanks to the advanced DR and offsite backup capabilities of SimpliVity’s Data Virtualization Platform, OmniCube. By protecting each other’s data, the two companies are ensuring a level of safety that could not otherwise be matched with any other solution.
Key benefits include:
- 75 percent increase in performance
- Up to 24 times faster backup performance and improved disaster recovery
- Double improvement in Oracle RMAN and Export backup times
- Eliminated more than $30,000 worth of annual expansion upgrades
- Eliminated the need for expensive offsite disaster recovery facility capabilities
- Capacity savings of 100:1 to 200:1 via In-line deduplication, compression, and optimization
- Hyperconverged infrastructure with integrated data protection