Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why GLC is Both a Partner and a Customer of Nimble Storage

At Great Lakes Computer (GLC), we provide datacenter solutions. Our focus is in providing better technology at a great value, so it’s important for us to believe in the technology that we sell. This made it especially difficult when we were internally challenged with an inefficient virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

Due to performance issues such as inadequate data capture and retention, high datastore latency, and long backup durations, our sales staff experienced productivity loss while waiting for programs and documents to load. This also affected our overall customer experience because information was not readily available for engineers and sales staff during phone consultations. As a result, our sales staff was unexcited to sell VDI to our customers because their personal experience with a VDI environment was negative.

Our sales staff wasn’t alone in their complaints - our internal IT staff wasn't happy either. They were unable to virtualize SQL databases and Exchange mail servers and our backup processes were not being completed during the scheduled timeframes. To fix this issue, our internal IT staff sat down with the engineering staff and crafted a solution that would provide the performance required immediately with the ability to scale-up for future needs.

The biggest factor affecting our VDI performance was an HP EVA 8000 storage array. Having already expanded the EVA 8000 as far as possible, it was clear that we needed a new array. We evaluated several different storage vendors, focusing on how well each array performed as a VDI solution. When evaluating compatibility and optimization regarding VDI, Nimble Storage came out the clear winner. Having recently become a Nimble Storage authorized reseller, our sales staff was thrilled that our IT and engineers’ evaluation supported our decision to adopt Nimble Storage’s line of products.

Our IT and engineers worked together to install a Nimble Storage CS440G array for the storage backend of the server and desktop virtual machines. The implementation of the Nimble Storage array had an immediate impact on our virtual desktop environment. Workforce productivity has improved due to the greatly increased responsiveness of virtual desktops and server actions. The Nimble Storage array also reduced the duration to complete backups by 35% while also improving datastore latency. Consolidating the storage from a 42U rack enclosure and half of another rack enclosure into a single 3U array caused a noticeable reduction in power consumption and heat generated.

To better support our new Nimble Storage array, we upgraded the rest of our aging infrastructure with:
  • VMware Horizon View
  • Juniper Networks EX4550 switches 
  • HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosure
  • HP ProLiant BL460c Gen8 blade servers
  • HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric interconnects 

The upgrade of the aging infrastructure to support the Nimble Storage SAN solution enabled the array to perform optimally. The full implementation of the end-to-end solution including storage, switching infrastructure, servers, and virtualization software that future-proofed our data center to scale as we continue to grow and virtualize our business critical applications.

When our staff members were surveyed regarding their experience with the new virtual desktop environment, one account manager stated, “I don’t spend time with a locked-up VM anymore, allowing me to spend my time more effectively and be more responsive to my customers’ needs.” We’re happy to say our sales staff is now excited to talk about VDI, and especially the benefits that Nimble Storage can provide for a VDI environment.

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