Wausau Coated Products
Manufacturing company displaces legacy IT Infrastructure with SimpliVity’s OmniCube™ achieving an elegant “data-center-in-a-box” solution, realizing the functionality and DR of a Fortune 100 company at a fraction of the TCO.
“We have seen an increase in performance over our traditional infrastructure, and the ability to handle backup and DR out-of-the-box without third party tools has been a huge benefit.” – Chad Lemmer, IT Manager, Wausau Coated Products, Inc.
A mid-sized manufacturing plant in central Wisconsin might be a surprising place to find cutting edge technology in place. But Wausau Coated Products, a manufacturer of specialty coated papers and foils that are used for consumer and industrial labels, prides itself on finding opportunities to leverage technology for competitive advantage. This holds true for the advanced, laser guided and fully automated industrial cutting machines that they use on their manufacturing floor, and it is a guiding principle for Chad Lemmer, who heads IT for the company.
Lemmer defines his team’s role as not only providing exceptional IT services to its internal customers, but also leading the research effort to continually implement and maintain highly available solutions to provide the company with timely and accurate information to make good business decisions. With this broad responsibility, the IT team continually evaluates new technologies to consider for this growing IT environment.
This research recently led them to evaluate and eventually deploy OmniCube, SimpliVity’s hyperconverged and federated IT infrastructure solution which is now running Wausau’s entire IT environment across its two facilities. The results have been even better than anticipated.
Technology Refresh, Virtualization, and Data Protection
Lemmer and his team recently began researching a solution to replace the complexity of their existing infrastructure with a scalable system that would operate seamlessly in their 100% virtualized VMware environment.
The IT environment at Wausau is sophisticated. The team custom writes all of their ERP and accounting software in-house, and is responsible for supporting the software and programs that drive critical business decisions. Given the ERP system’s role in running the operations of the business, downtime cannot be tolerated. “We ship billions of square inches of specialty paper per year…downtime causes operations to be disrupted, and the cost is huge.”
“The quality of the data we provide drives key business decisions for the company,” said Lemmer. “When investing in our infrastructure, we need to be certain that our vendors are committed to Wausau’s vision and IT’s ability to execute on stringent SLAs for uptime and data protection, as well as our commitment to deliver accurate and timely information to executive management.”
With two facilities connect by private fiber, Wausau’s primary objective was to maintain 24×7 uptime to support their manufacturing and global operations, as well as having sound backup, Disaster Recovery, and business continuity strategies in place. In addition to their stability, uptime, and DR requirements, the IT team at Wausau identified additional criteria that had to be met when replacing their legacy equipment:
- Simple to manage
- Enables significant operational cost savings
- Scales in simple, low cost increments
- Maintains high performance under system load
- Enables rapid clones, primarily for the test and development team
- 24/7 Support
Through an extensive analysis of the converged infrastructure market, Wausau’s team narrowed their focus to three vendors including SimpliVity, and conducted a detailed head-to-head comparison. For Lemmer, SimpliVity’s ability to deploy a “data-center-in-a-box” was the natural choice.
“We compared the complexity of our existing infrastructure—servers, SANs, and switches in multiple locations with multiple panes of glass—with the simplicity of OmniCube where all of those elements are converged into one box and behind a single pane of glass…and it just made perfect sense. SimpliVity takes so much complexity and cost out of it, while introducing a broad scope of valuable functionality.”
Wausau migrated all VMs and business applications to OmniCube without any downtime or business impact. “The implementation was very straightforward and slick. We were able to move all of our virtual machines onto the OmniCube systems on the first day and were running the applications in production within 48 hours.” Cost savings began to rack up immediately as they decommissioned their legacy infrastructure including costly third-party backups, service, and maintenance expenses.
A major objective of the OmniCube implementation was to improve Wausau’s DR operation, so on day one of the implementation, policies were established for each VM to back them up to the remote site. “With OmniCube, the level of redundancy, availability, and disaster preparedness is a huge step above what we had before. Now we can lose a whole data center and be up and running and operational at the remote site in less than an hour. This provides RTOs and RPOs that we just didn’t have before…I knew the night of the initial deployment that all of my data was safe and fully DR protected,” said Lemmer. “Knowing that in the event of disaster, I can be up and running in a matter of minutes is priceless.”
Wausau recognized the value of implementing an infrastructure with built-in investment protection—that will scale as the company grows, by adding one OmniCube unit at a time—on demand. Wausau already has plans in place to scale their OmniCube Federation by adding additional nodes.
“After researching all options, SimplVity was the clear choice. The reduction in complexity and expansion of capabilities that OmniCube delivers make it the best in the industry,” said Lemmer.
Key benefits include:
- “Data-center-in-a-box” implementation
- Best of both words: cloud economics with enterprise protection, performance, and data efficiency
- 101:1 data efficiency
- 749TB saved in capacity
- Seamless integration into VMWare vCenter