A leading IT services provider in the Netherlands, Syntrophos deploys OmniCube as its data center solution and experiences the optimization and security delivered through SimpliVity, the leader in hyperconverged infrastructure for the software-defined data center.
“We’ve never seen a solution so powerful that has saved us time and money like OmniCube.” – Patrique
Martin, Project Manager, Syntrophos
Syntrophos, a Shared Service Center founded by four cities in the Netherlands, provides high quality ICT, GEO-information, and consulting services to over 120,000 citizens, as well as seven smaller governmental agencies. The company employs over 1400 staff and has a dedicated IT team of eleven focused on running and maintaining its mission-critical applications. With applications such as Oracle 11g; Microsoft SQL Server, DFS, and IIS; Horizon Workspace; CheckPoint Firewall; and Apache Webserver in its physical data centers, end user access to these critical services is a key priority. However, with plans to migrate all virtual machines and consolidate the four cities’ data centers by early 2015, Syntrophos faced major consolidation challenges and needed a solution that could virtualize and migrate the entire IT environment while supporting its Tier-1 applications.
Data Center Consolidation, Virtualization, and Tier-1 Applications
Syntrophos prioritizes continual evolution, responsiveness, and outstanding performance for its customers. However, that promise was compromised by its existing legacy infrastructure—its physical nature not only restricted Syntrophos’ ability to scale and optimize mission-critical applications, but increased data center complexity and costs as well.
Syntrophos had to migrate 51 physical servers (31 of them VMware ESX servers) by the end of 2014, and vacate its current data centers by early 2015—a critical deadline with difficult time constraints. Its existing infrastructure consisted of Dell and HP servers, and NetApp FAS3040 systems with multiple disk shelves totaling nearly 70TB of storage. With its whole suite of Tier-1 applications, this bulky data center environment was one Syntrophos wanted to optimize and virtualize.
Data protection and backup were also points of contention for Syntrophos. Its best-case recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) was twelve hours and four hours, respectively. This meant that if Syntrophos had an outage, it would take four hours to recover data that was 12 hours old—introducing significant risk to the business. Its worst case RTO was three days—and that was just for a fraction of its entire environment! The company’s data protection strategy was severely limited by these technological dependencies, a less-than-ideal compromise for a company dedicated to excellence.
Patrique Martin, Project Manager for Syntrophos, realized the need for a solution that could wholly address its initiatives to migrate all virtual machines on to a new environment, as well as improve performance, availability, and agility for its mission-critical applications.
Syntrophos implemented NetApp in two of its larger cities, and logically looked to NetApp’s FlexPod converged infrastructure as a solution. The company decided, however, that NetApp came with too many different consoles and management interfaces, which did not align with its initiatives to simplify the IT environment. Syntrophos then looked at Nutanix and Nimble, but those fell short of all the required capabilities it was seeking. Syntrophos sought an agile, flexible, high-performing, scalable, affordable, and simple product—nearly impossible standards until, through a partner, it was introduced to SimpliVity’s OmniCube hyperconverged infrastructure. Syntrophos requested a live demo and could not believe what it saw.
OmniCube delivered all the features it was looking for in a single platform that could be managed through an interface that 90% of all system administrators knew how to use: VMware vCenter. Syntrophos requested a proof of concept, and for two weeks attempted to “break” OmniCube, which it couldn’t. By the end of June 2014, Syntrophos purchased and implemented eight OmniCubes in its data centers.
OmniCube’s Global Unified Management enabled easy administration of all management interfaces from a single pane of glass; Syntrophos administrators could be in any of its four data centers and still access its workstations. This simplification of management, flexibility, and agility proved to be transformative for its IT team. Five engineers were originally delegated to manage the entire IT environment. After SimpliVity, two engineers easily oversaw the virtual infrastructure, while the remaining three could now devote their energies to other mission-critical activities.
SimpliVity’s best-of-both-worlds offering that enables cloud economics with enterprise performance, protection, and data efficiency allowed Syntrophos to greatly improve its availability and recovery capabilities. Syntrophos had been using NetApp storage system-based snapshots with CommVault, Veeam, and IBM Tivoli backup-to-tape to meet its data protection objectives, which created a maze of complexity in management interfaces, as well as increased licensing expenses. With SimpliVity OmniCube, 100% of Syntrophos’ migrated virtual machines are backed up with built-in backup and replication capabilities to provide both local and remote copies. Syntrophos tightened its RPO/RTO levels in its continuity plans, as well as discontinued its now-superfluous third-party providers for off-site disaster recovery. Backup jobs now take minutes, as opposed to hours or even days. Its absolute worst-case RTO, previously three days, is now just four hours—eliminating significant risk. Most importantly, Syntrophos delivers improved Service Level Agreements to its customers.
Applications that were difficult to manage from a backup and disaster recovery perspective (due to a high degree of customization and special use cases) were now streamlined and simple. “There is only one method now to do data protection and disaster recovery: the SimpliVity method,” said Martin. “Their simple, flexible, and thorough policies are fast and accurate—it’s easier and less time consuming.”
As of today, Syntrophos has been able to migrate 128 of its 170 virtual machines on to OmniCube hyperconverged infrastructure—with no costly downtime. OmniCube’s flexibility also allowed Syntrophos to continue using its legacy Dell servers to run Oracle 11g—a unique configuration chosen to mitigate Oracle’s licensing fees. Being able to host legacy infrastructures on OmniCube hyperconverged infrastructure provides Syntrophos the flexibility necessary to continue operations while moving forward with its data center consolidation. While this consolidation and migration project is still in process, Martin says, “Using the OmniCubes as a foundation has been acknowledged by all different corners of the organization.”
Commenting on the OmniCube’s effectiveness and powerful capabilities, Martin remarked, “We have never seen a ‘back end’ solution that end users wanted to know about.”
Key benefits include:
- Best of both worlds: cloud economics with enterprise protection, performance, data efficiency, and management
- Drove data efficiency ratio of 63:1 via OmniCube’s inline deduplication, compression, and optimization, resulting in 360TB capacity savings and infrastructure footprint reduction.
- Delivered the best of both worlds: cloud economics with enterprise functionality, performance, and protection.
- Dramatically improved RPOs and RTOs, eliminating risk and introducing time and cost savings.
- Dramatically improved RTOs and RPOs
- Reduced CAPEX and OPEX four-fold.