Tech Talk

Young Clement Rivers Partners with Bluetowne to Virtualize Physical Servers and Applications to Increase Control and Operational Efficiency

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“Bluetowne got what we needed without trying to oversell us “stuff.” They spent a lot of time on site understanding the dynamics of our firm and our users’ needs, and designed the perfect solution to help us achieve our goals.” – Cy Nordoff, IT Director, Young Clement Rivers

THE CLIENT

Young Clement Rivers (YCR) is a law firm headquartered in downtown Charleston, SC that is recognized locally, nationally, and internationally as a leading force in complex litigation and transactional work. YCR’s seasoned attorneys practice in nineteen different legal areas, representing clients in almost every aspect of civil law from Admiralty to Workers’ Compensation.

THE CHALLENGE

While YCR had enjoyed years of operational success with their expanding local datacenter, management and implementation of new servers in an all-physical environment was placing a strain on the organization from an IT management perspective. Declining operational efficiencies were being noticed by upper level management in all areas, and YCR needed an effective way to fully manage the local datacenter stack while maintaining control over server and application growth.

THE SOLUTION

YCR partnered with Bluetowne to migrate all physical servers to a new VMware virtualized cluster. YCR requested the use of Dell hardware for both storage and compute in the new environment, and Bluetowne provided a flexible solution design utilizing YCR’s preferred hardware manufacturer at the time. The solution included Dell ESXi hosts, Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN and Dell Force10 iSCSI switch stack all under the control and oversight of VMware vCenter. The solution also included the creation and implementation of new Citrix application and Microsoft Exchange clusters for increased user demand. Bluetowne provided in-progress project and subject matter training and guidance for YCR, providing a smooth transition to YCR staff oversight and management of the new local datacenter.

THE RESULT

Today, YCR can effectively control and manage all hosts, 20+ virtual servers and storage environments, utilizing a single pane of glass. Increased operational efficiencies within the YCR IT department have enabled the team to expand their own knowledge of the virtualization stack, providing greater influence on the direction of the firm’s IT budgeting and growth decisions. YCR’s user-base can now securely access all of the firms’ applications from any device, anywhere, utilizing the Citrix remote access platform. YCR’s best-in-class infrastructure enables them to better serve their clients, provides state of the art security for sensitive client data, and positions the firm for future growth.

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Cipher Pharmaceuticals Partners with Bluetowne to Upgrade and Migrate Infrastructure to New U.S. Headquarters with Zero Operational Downtime

Cipher“A lot of people may claim they can do a job, and there are a lot of ways to get a job done.  But at the end of the day there are only a handful of people out there who really know what they’re doing and will do it the right way—and that’s Bluetowne.” – Art Waite, Director of Operations, Cipher Pharmaceuticals

“Our team was extremely impressed with Bluetowne’s level of planning and execution.  Our office move went flawlessly.” – Mark Spina, Senior VP of Finance and Treasury, Cipher Pharmaceuticals

THE CLIENT

Cipher Pharmaceuticals is a growing specialty company with a focus on dermatology. Their goal is to develop and acquire best-in-class skin care solutions for unmet medical needs. Cipher has everything it takes – strong financials, a robust and growing product portfolio, and savvy executive leadership with proven commercial execution capabilities.

THE CHALLENGE

Prior to engaging Bluetowne, the original company operating under the name Innocutis was acquired by Cipher, a public company, and experienced extremely fast-paced growth both in the U.S. and Canada. They were faced with the need to replace an aging computing and networking infrastructure to keep up with the growth demand. Cipher was also establishing a new U.S. headquarters, and had the requirement of zero operational downtime during the IT infrastructure replacement and migration to the new location.

THE SOLUTION

Bluetowne was indispensible in assisting with the new office planning and infrastructure build-out, working hand in hand with Cipher’s leadership team to provide support and clear direction. To facilitate growth and performance demand, the existing infrastructure was brought up to modern day “best practice” standards utilizing the latest technologies. To handle the high volume data demand of Cipher’s user base, Cisco Catalyst switches and Cisco Meraki wireless networking gear was deployed throughout the new U.S. headquarters. These technologies provided traffic segmentation, data governance and compliance oversight. Additionally, the server infrastructure was upgraded with a VMware physical-to-virtual migration of all servers.

THE RESULT

Cipher experienced no operational downtime during the transition, achieving a critical goal of the project. Cipher also achieved operational efficiency across all user functional groups while ensuring data control and integrity. The networking architecture provided seamless control of corporate-owned, BYOD, and guest devices independently. The VMware virtualized environment ensured effective utilization of hardware resources, flexible migration of workloads with Cipher’s existing cloud environment, and expanded options for disaster recovery and data availability. Cipher is well positioned for future growth as the company continues to scale.

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Bluetowne Attains VMware IaaS Powered Status in the VMware vCloud Air Network

vmware-vcloud-airMT. PLEASANT, S.C. – April 20, 2016 – Bluetowne, a leading provider of innovative information technology solutions, today announced its entry into the VMware vCloud® Air™ Network, with BlueCloud, a VMware IaaS Powered service. This designation illustrates to customers that the company’s public cloud service is validated using and compatible for use with VMware vSphere®, the leading virtualization platform for building cloud infrastructures.

A member of the VMware vCloud Air Network, Bluetowne provides its VMware IaaS Powered service using proven VMware technology that organizations already use in their existing data centers. VMware vCloud Air Network Service Providers offer global cloud services in more than 100 countries.

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UEC Electronics Partners with Bluetowne to Address Storage Needs, Saving Thousands of Dollars a Day in Avoided Downtime

“We were impressed with Bluetowne’s knowledge and professionalism.  They were extremely flexible and cooperative in helping us work through and resolve any issues that popped up, and had a level of organization and follow-through that the other partners we considered lacked.” – Julie Schultz, Information Technology Manager, UEC Electronics

LogoTHE CLIENT

UEC Electronics (UEC) specializes in the development and sale of mission critical products. They offer comprehensive solutions in engineering design, product development, rapid prototyping, and lean, innovative manufacturing services, as well as their own line of mobile power products.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Prior to engaging Bluetowne, UEC’s biggest challenge was a general lack of IT expertise as it related to specific areas of their infrastructure. They struggled with various issues, including a mixed 4.1 and 5.1 VMware environment, and local storage that was near capacity and was not shared, centrally managed or expandable. Server maintenance plans were cumbersome, and required downtime and after-hours work. UEC relies on mission critical applications every day that could mean thousands of dollars in lost productivity should they experience any downtime during business hours. Knowing the vulnerability of their current infrastructure and that this was a chance they could not afford to take, they partnered with Bluetowne to help design and deploy a solution to take their infrastructure to the next level, and ensure resiliency and ease of expansion as the company continued to grow.

THE SOLUTION

The deployment took one week, with zero downtime during business hours, and included: upgrading VMware hosts from 4.1 and 5.1 to 5.5, deploying VMware vCenter 5.5, deployment of a new iSCSI shared storage SAN, a new Cisco iSCSI and virtualization switch stack and expanded vSwitch capacity with additional NIC’s in each host. Bluetowne also migrated all virtual servers to the new platform.

THE RESULT

The VMware upgrade allowed UEC to take advantage of VMware VMotion and other advanced virtualization features. The new SAN helped UEC address their storage issues, including minimizing server downtime and increasing storage capacity and scalability to accommodate future growth. They were able to realize virtualization cluster advanced redundancy, and saw a performance increase due to the networking and storage reconfiguration. They can now increase their Windows server capacity and footprint on the fly, and seamlessly migrate resources during scheduled maintenance windows. To wrap up the project, Bluetowne ensured that UEC’s staff was trained on how to maintain and support the SAN and new virtualization architecture through thorough documentation and knowledge transfer.

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The GEL Group Partners With Bluetowne to Increase Performance and Position Company for Future Growth

“The level of knowledge is what attracted us to Bluetowne—they delivered solid consulting and offered clear direction to help us solve our business challenges. Watching my colleagues’ responses and seeing them get excited when Bluetowne was presenting a solution was a good barometer for me that we chose the right partner.” – James Westmoreland, Director, Radio Chemistry Division, The GEL Group

the-gel-group-squarelogo-1425888197402THE CLIENT
The GEL Group (GEL) is a leading analytical laboratory, engineering and consulting company. Since 1981, GEL has provided a unique breadth of analytical testing, environmental consulting, civil engineering and geophysical engineering services that meet high standards of quality and accuracy to a broad and enduring client base.

THE CHALLENGE
Prior to engaging Bluetowne, GEL’s biggest challenge was the diversity and legacy of the systems that they manage—and the ability to handle the accelerated change in the industry. Due to support expirations and feature enhancements within VMware products, GEL knew it was imperative that they complete an upgrade in an effort to stay current and realize the full potential of their infrastructure. GEL was also experiencing scalability issues with their storage—the current raid configuration and storage capacity was not poised for future growth. GEL knew that they needed to employ a trusted technology advisor from the start to ensure that the end result was a reliable infrastructure that would scale as the business continued to grow.

THE SOLUTION
Bluetowne partnered with GEL to assist with two different project implementations to help address their challenges. The first was to complete a successful upgrade on their current VMware infrastructure from version 3.5 to 5.1. The environment consisted of building a new vCenter and upgrading 3 hosts, while using iSCSI as the connectivity to shared SAN storage. The second project involved replacing the existing SAN environment with a new EMC VNX5200 array and migrating all existing data to the new environment, while keeping in line with the iSCSI infrastructure.

THE RESULT
The VMware upgrade project allowed GEL to take advantage of the renewed support by VMware, and all of the enhanced features offered in version 5.1. Some of those features included SSO, thin provisioning, centralized license management in vCenter, iSCSI binding, storage VMotion within the GUI, and much more. When GEL completed the storage refresh project the following year, they not only received a best-in-the-market SAN, but they were now able to realize vast improvements in performance, as well as the ability to scale the EMC VNX5200 to meet the demands of future growth.

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Bluetowne Becomes Nimble Storage Authorized Solutions Provider

Bluetowne to Expand the Reach of the Nimble Adaptive Flash Platform to Southeast

Basic RGBMT. PLEASANT, S.C. – September 28, 2015 – Bluetowne, a leading provider of innovative information technology solutions, today announced it has joined the Nimble Partner Program as a Value-added Reseller. Nimble Storage is redefining the storage market with its Adaptive Flash platform, enabling consolidation of all workloads and elimination of storage silos by providing enterprises with significant improvements in application performance and storage capacity.

The Nimble Adaptive Flash platform is now the preferred choice for more than 6,200 customers in over 50 countries around the world. In contrast to legacy and flash-only storage architectures and systems that are deployed and managed in disparate silos to support applications based on their unique characteristics and requirements, the Nimble Adaptive Flash platform offers a single storage architecture that dynamically caters to the needs of enterprise-wide workloads across performance, capacity, and data protection – delivering on the full potential and benefits of storage consolidation. The company’s flash storage solutions are based on its patented Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout (CASL™) storage architecture that leverages fast read performance of flash and the cost-effective capacity of hard disk drives, and Nimble InfoSight, an automated cloud-based management and support system that maintains storage system peak health.

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Is VMware Building Bridge To Rival Amazon’s Cloud?

Bluetowne Featured in CRNAt VMware’s partner conference last month, CEO Pat Gelsinger said in a private question-and-answer session that his company is developing a way to move workloads back and forth between its vCloud Air public cloud and Amazon Web Services, according to partners who were there.

This would be significant for a number of reasons, but mainly because moving workloads between different clouds is a notoriously slow and tedious process, one that involves converting virtual machines between different formats and accounting for their networking and storage configurations, among other challenges.

Eric Hartley, president of Bluetowne, a Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based consulting firm that partners with VMware and other enterprise vendors, said being able to move workloads between clouds is an important part of his company’s future strategy.

“It looks like all the big vendors are cozying up to one another. They know over the next 10 years or so, regardless of consolidation, that they will all need to play well together in the data center,” Hartley said.

Read the full CRN article (featuring a quote by Bluetowne’s own Eric Hartley) here.

 

 

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Virtualization without a SAN – Not a Wise Use of Funds.

A Storage Area Network (SAN) is a consolidated array of hard drives hosted under a shared platform. This architecture allows multiple resources on the network to share the resulting storage volume. Without a SAN architecture, storage volumes become isolated and dedicated to the attached hardware. This constrains the growing economics of inexpensive storage and limits the amount data stored in the collective array.

In the case of a virtualized server environment, a SAN storage structure is recommended and, just as often, hardily demanded. Virtual machines (VM’s) can efficiently be moved and stored in any number of hard disk arrays in various locations on your network if you have the means to manage this growing web of connections. When VM’s are dispersed to different, non-SAN storage locations, the underlying feature set of SAN architecture is ignored and your virtualization infrastructure becomes difficult to manage, backup and expand.

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Disaster and Business Continuity Preparedness

Hurricane season is right around the corner and the first tropical storm has already come and gone off the coast of  South Carolina.  Be prepared this year ahead of time.  Consider your options for stand-by business operations and remote communications with customers, vendors and employees.  Are you regularly backing up your critical data?  Do you have a plan in place to access this data during a disaster or business-down emergency?   Have you appointed key employees to manage certain aspects of your business continuity and disaster recovery plan?  One critical point to consider in your planning is the ‘recovery’ phase.  Think this through from end-to-end before purchasing additional hardware, software or services.

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Disaster Planning

Do you know what disaster planning should include when preparing your business for the unknown, unexpected and unprepared?  Planning for a disaster takes many different angles, revisions, discussions, due diligence and process review even just to successfully lay the groundwork for a plan… much less a tested and successful plan.  And, don’t forget, a plan is just that, a PLAN.

Your plan should be comprehensive, picked apart, reassembled and tested regularly by different members of your team.  Only during this vetting process will your plan become a solid foundation prepared for disaster.

And, one last thing to keep top of mind… a disaster of some magnitude will occur with your infrastructure during your leadership period.

Be prepared.

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