October 25, 2015
The Problem and Situation
In the spring of 2015, Charles Industries, a national manufacturing company headquartered in Chicago, was finally fed up with their aging network and data center infrastructure. While every corner of their company was hindered by their outdated and insufficient technologies, their email capabilities and document management system, Agile, were almost unusable.
Agile, and the server which managed it, had been recently suffering from new complications. After a system crash, a member of their IT team turned to the only option they had available at the time and rebooted the server in a virtual Hyper-V environment. Problems arose soon after, because the server was unequipped to work in that virtual environment. This slowed the entire network to unacceptable speeds. Users experienced both long delays when opening emails and wait times of three to five minutes on average just to open a simple file from the LAN. The Charles Industries IT team was unable to determine the exact cause of the problem, but they understood that something significant needed to be done to update the network.
Charles Industries soon brought in Mindsight for a Data Center Assessment.
The Mindsight Solution
When the Mindsight engineers began their analysis of Charles Industries’ environment, they found a network and data center composed of almost entirely outdated hardware. For example, the LAN was built at a 10/100 network speed, an incredibly slow connection likely installed in the late 90s or early 2000s. First and foremost, components like this would need an update.
After the rest of the analysis, Mindsight had a number of recommendations for Charles Industries’ data center enhancements. Interestingly enough, their environment did not have the deficiency one might expect. The Mindsight engineers found plenty of storage capacity; that wasn’t the problem. What they found was that the CPU for servers hosting core applications were continuously hitting 100% utilization. That indicated a lack of compute power to keep up with the demands of the company. Suddenly, the cause behind the long wait times became clear.
By expanding the compute ability, installing a NetApp E-Series storage array to address IOPS and response time, and utilizing the efficiencies of a VMWare virtual environment, Charles Industries’ new data center would comfortably perform as required and scale well in the coming years as the company expands.
However, when Mindsight was originally contacted to conduct an assessment, Charles Industries only wanted a network component update on a one-for-one basis. Each piece of their network infrastructure would be replaced with newer hardware of the same design. While this would address some immediate, short-term issues within their network and data center, it would not have solved the systemic problems sure to return as the company grows.
Just as the project was beginning, it hit a snag. The IT director at Charles Industries resigned and a new director, Jose Cisneros, was brought in to oversee the network and data center enhancements.
With fresh eyes and new management, Cisneros looked around the network environment and saw the opportunity to do more. Rather than a hardware swap, Cisneros decided to pursue Mindsight’s original recommendations and restructure the data center on a foundational level.
Looking for a Partner
“This project was the perfect environment to prove Mindsight worthy of trust.”
— Jose Cisneros, IT Director, Charles Industries
When Cisneros was brought on board at Charles Industries, it was made clear to him that the IT division of the company ran lean. In order to accomplish his goals and provide the company with the resources it needed, Cisneros required a partnership with a firm he could trust. Even after the current project’s completion, an ongoing relationship with an IT consultancy and engineering firm to supplement his team would be essential to his success
Throughout the course of the project, Mindsight demonstrated its determination to put the business objectives of the client first in all respects. For example, one of the switches in the data center would, for unknown reasons, repeatedly fail. While the Mindsight engineers could have easily recommended a complete replacement of the switch, they instead sought out the source of the problem. The switch was running a copper line instead of fiber to the core which would cause it to periodically crash. Through a diligent inspection, Mindsight turned what looked to be an expensive hardware investment into a minor repair.
It was this kind of behavior along with their flexibility during the change of management that solidified Mindsight as an ongoing partner and support team for Charles Industries.
The Project Results
With the new data center installed and operational, Charles Industries was ready to get back to business as usual. Through the power of their single NetApp E5600 storage array and their VMWare virtual environment, they experienced drastic improvements in their application performance. Agile, the document management system that once stalled productivity with three-to-five minute waits just to open files, now processed the same requests in less than a second.
Charles Industries can look forward to increased productivity, decreased frustration, and a long partnership with the IT consultants and engineers at Mindsight.
“All the engineers and account managers at Mindsight have been top notch. The team was organized, highly responsible, and extremely accountable from beginning to end.”
— Jose Cisneros, IT Director, Charles Industries
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Leverage the experience and expertise of Mindsight’s engineers to address the difficulties in your data center. After a thorough analysis of your environment, you’ll receive a written report highlighting the strengths and weakness of your infrastructure and recommendations on where you can improve. Then Mindsight can help you capitalize on these recommendations and develop a roadmap for the future of your data center. Contact us today.
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