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Total Safety of Houston, TX is the leading global provider of integrated industrial safety services, strategies and equipment to the upstream and midstream, refinery, chemical, petrochemical, wind energy and industrial markets.
An organization with an intense focus on safety, Total Safety was acutely aware of the risks it faced by having its data center in “hurricane alley.” It had already experienced a few storm outages.
A neighbor of the Logicalis Houston office, Total Safety had previously turned to Logicalis for a refresh of its entire data center including a new IBM blade center for its Intel-based systems and a new iSeries system for its main ERP application.
At that time, Logicalis also conducted a comprehensive disaster recovery assessment that identified in graphic detail where the systems were at risk and what the effects of downtime would be on the company. According to Logicalis account executive John Nelson, the assessment showed that the only way to eliminate risk would be to establish a disaster recovery site outside of hurricane alley that would be a duplicate of the Total Safety data center at its Houston headquarters. To be totally safe, Total Safety would have to buy one of everything it already had in its Houston data center.
Enterprise Cloud Computing
Total Safety hadn’t yet acted on Logicalis’ recommendation when another option presented itself. Since completing the DR assessment for Total Safety, Logicalis had launched its Enterprise Cloud platform offering powered by Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and Nexus switches. The Logicalis cloud is a virtualized environment partitioned for each of its customers. Besides the UCS servers it also includes an iSeries system—the same one that Total Safety used for its ERP system.
Total Safety Technical Operations Manager Kevin Croteau had started investigating options for a remote site, but soon found every offsite option becoming cost prohibitive. The more he learned about the Enterprise Cloud platform that Logicalis was preparing, the more he was convinced he had found a better solution for Total Safety. “We already had a good relationship with Logicalis, and the more we looked at what the Logicalis cloud would cost and how easy it would be to set up and get going, the more we liked it.”
The Logicalis cloud platform option appealed to Total Safety on several levels: not only would it eliminate the risk of downtime, but also, the entire cost of the disaster recovery platform could be paid for out of its operational expense budget, instead of its capital expense budget. Total Safety would also have the benefit of Logicalis’ more than a dozen years of experience as a managed services provider. In the event of a disaster, Logicalis would be able to keep all Total Safety systems running smoothly, allowing Total Safety IT staff to stay in Houston and address the situation on the ground at home.
A Total Solution
Total Safety conducted extensive due diligence and considered offerings by other cloud providers, but none could offer a total solution that included iSeries and Intel systems, the capability of running full production of all Total Safety systems, and the ability to provide 24/7 monitoring and management at the highest level 365 days a years.
It wasn’t just the technology. It was also the extra effort Logicalis people demonstrated, Croteau says. “They brought us up to the operations center in Ohio, and we got to ask all our questions. We met all the people involved, looked at all the services with their cloud infrastructure and disaster recovery. They went step by step through how they were going to handle everything; all the replication software they used, why they chose it and how they were building their environment. They made us feel comfortable every step of the way. We didn’t have any real issues.”
Because Logicalis already had the hardware and software systems in place, implementing this solution took a fraction of the time of a building a comparable disaster recovery site.
Croteau says, “The biggest challenge was figuring out how much bandwidth we really needed for everything to stay up to date and replicate properly and not impact performance in the production data center. Once we got that squared away, everything worked great.”
Logicalis solution architect Kevin Clark collaborated closely with Total Safety on the development of the solution. “Our network engineers worked with their network engineers,” he says. Clark notes Logicalis was also able to draw on capabilities that were already in its service catalog for managed services which is bundled with cloud implementations.
Clark says the Total Safety solution leverages Double-Take replication software to minimize Total Safety’s monthly expenses. “Until they have a disaster they are only charged for the compute capacity required to replicate the data,” Clark says. “That means the cost is less than half of what it would be if we had the capacity of their whole data center running on our cloud platform.”
Security is ensured. The Total Safety disaster recovery solution includes a T1 circuit between the iSeries system in Houston and iSeries in the Logicalis cloud in Cincinnati that enables 100 percent replication. Croteau says, “The Logicalis solution is basically a private cloud, disaster recovery and failover site that is part of our MPLS Total Safety network.” A VPN/Internet connection provides a secondary route, eliminating a single point of failure.
Altogether 35 Windows systems and the iSeries systems are replicated to a Total Safety container on the Logicalis Enterprise Cloud. “Since most of what we are doing is VMs (virtual machines), it makes it pretty easy,” Croteau says. “All we are doing is replicating a virtual machine up to their data center. If they need to fire it up, they just migrate the files over and fire up our servers in a virtual environment.”
Mostly the solution runs by itself. “With all the support we get from Logicalis— the reporting and ease of use and the hands-off during replication—I really don’t have to touch it that much,” Croteau says. “I just know it’s there. Whatever we are paying them on a monthly basis, it‘s well worth it, especially compared to building and outfitting our own disaster recovery site and having to manage it, too.”
“Going forward,” he says, “we are looking at storage growth across the board as a challenge and we would consider storage on the Logicalis cloud. We are also looking at putting more servers into the replicated mix.”
“A lot of cloud stuff is really new,” Croteau adds, “But we’re so comfortable with the DR solution we have in place with Logicalis that I’m sure we would be comfortable with other cloud solutions from Logicalis when the time is right.”