FlexPod As a Competitive Edge

Guest post by Shawn McCollough, Director of Information Technology, Moffatt & Nichol


As a leading engineering and infrastructure consulting firm, Moffatt & Nichol has a particular set of IT challenges, much of which stems from the data and accessibility needs that 50 GB of daily data, 28 offices, and 550+ employees present. As Director of Information Technology, I am responsible for ensuring uninterrupted processing power and immediate access to large amounts of data, all while keeping the data secure, maintaining the ability to scale effectively, and ensuring the flexibility to allow staff to work from any location.


In order to overcome these challenges and support the company’s vision for an agile, long-term IT foundation, we turned to VMware vSphere built on FlexPod from NetApp and Cisco.


We set up Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) to run our data centers, utilizing two high-performance NetApp FAS3240 storage systems running NetApp Data ONTAP 8.0 operating in 7-Mode and complemented by NetApp OnCommand management software to simplify the management and optimization of the storage systems via a unified interface.


The result: significant cost savings, a reduction in security risk, improved business continuity, and outstanding performance. How? Let me explain.



Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Team members today are able to use their own devices to access a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) without sacrificing security or performing power. We were able to reduce the use of desktop devices and instead run VDI from the data center using inexpensive thin clients and zero clients, replacing the high-end workstations employees had been using. Better yet, since the virtualized infrastructure only requires us to pay for licenses based on the number of concurrent users rather than the total number of users who need access to an application, I was also able to save money on software licenses.


Reduced Security Risk and Improved Business Continuity

FlexPod reduced the security risk associated with lost or stolen devices while improving business continuity. With all data securely managed in the data centers and stored in the FlexPod environment, the staff has no need to move data around the system or copy it into workstations.


Flexibility and Scalability

Today, we can create a virtualized infrastructure in less than 15 minutes, enabling Moffatt & Nichol to quickly address business needs and accelerate project completion. The virtualization and syncing of data through NetApp SnapVault and Syncsort Backup Express allow my IT team to use other data centers to create virtual servers, sync the latest snapshots of any lost servers and data, and resume service within 15 minutes if a data center or remote office ever goes down. By taking advantage of deduplication technology, the transition from tape to NetApp storage has resulted in a $10,000 savings for each remote office.



Because all processing and data storage take place in the Cisco UCS data center and not on individual devices, we are able to make maximum use of its resources and employees are able to work from home without forfeiting the performance of the office environment. The quick, nonstop access to data means engineers can perform their jobs faster and smarter, further enhancing client service.


When it comes down to it, the processing power, scalable storage, network performance, virtualization support, improved business continuity and simplified management provided by VMware vSphere built on FlexPod allow Moffatt & Nichol to “do it all” while strengthening the company’s competitive edge.


You can read more about the FlexPod solution here: http://www.netapp.com/us/solutions/cloud/flexpod/