• Probrand rationalises Beakbane's IT infrastructure by 70%

The Customer

Beakbane Ltd manufactures and distributes systems that protect machinery from environmental hazards. Based in Kidderminster and setup in 1954, the business employs 120 staff and operates globally in sectors ranging from machine tools and medical devices to transport.

Beakbane's IT infrastructure uses Microsoft Windows and key applications include an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) and Computer-Aided Design and modelling (CAD/CAM) software for product design.

The Challenge

  • Upgrade an ageing server and storage infrastructure to support migration to new versions of Excel Computer Systems' Efacs ERP applications and Dassault Systemes' SolidWorks 3D CAD/CAM software

  • Improve capacity and system speed whilst reducing server footprint – Windows 2000 servers running slow due to lack of disk space
  • Deliver fail over and business continuity
  • Future proof the infrastructure for ongoing developments

     

Chris Sheldon, Beakbane's IT manager, said: "Downtime for our ERP system had become a real risk and this wasn't acceptable as it forms the backbone of daily operations – from issuing customer quotations to invoicing and the dispatch of goods.

"Furthermore, our infrastructure was holding us back from migrating to a newer version of our ERP system. This was critically preventing the business from optimising operations."

The Solution - VMWare and NetApp

Probrand proposed a consolidated solution that rationalised seven existing Windows 2000 servers down to two Hewlett-Packard Proliant DL360s running Windows 2008. These were subsequently virtualised using EMC's VMWare ESX version 4 software and a NetApp FAS2020 pre-configured Storage Area Network was introduced.

The initiative took only 10 days to implement, including install and configure before transfer of data and applications. Sheldon said: "The implementation went really well and there was no downtime to cause disruption to the business."

The Benefits - Data back within minutes

Sheldon said: "Fundamentally, with the NetApp solution Beakbane's storage capacity is future proofed for at least the next five years. We have scaleablility so we can expand quickly and backup has become easy. It is saving us significant management time as the NetApp reliably takes snapshots of disk-stored data every hour. This can be restored rapidly, which means business continuity has improved.

"An example, I was on holiday in Florida and someone accidentally deleted some files. I remotely accessed the system and restored a copy of a previous snapshot. The data was back within minutes and business could continue."

Previously, users would have waited until the IT Manager returned to the office before recovering data manually from back-up tapes.

Sheldon continues: "The business can now plan material requirements six times faster than before. The improved and rationalised server estate is enabling the ERP system to run much faster and has unlocked a mission critical 2011 schedule for our ERP upgrade.

"The fact that it is possible to add virtual servers very easily makes application testing and managing much simpler.

"The consolidated infrastructure solution is saving time and money by operating more efficiently and reliably. We now have a resilient foundation to build on for future developments," concluded Sheldon.



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