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Hallmark Business Connections @ .NEXT

An Interview with Bob Dussault, Director of Infrastructure and Information Security Officer at Hallmark Business Connections

Hallmark Business Connections is the business-to-business arm of of the iconic Hallmark Cards Group, operated as a wholly owned subsidiary organization. It is specifically focused on delivery of reward and incentive programs for employees and customers of Fortune 50 – 500 companies. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company has over 200 staff. It delivers its services through a combination of traditional print and digital materials via a Web portal developed, hosted, and implemented across three on-premise datacenters.

We recently caught up with Bob Dussault, IT Director and Information Security Officer at Hallmark Business Connections, to find out what’s happening at his company and to see if he’s planning to attend the Nutanix .NEXT event this year.

Q. Can you tell us a little about your Nutanix implementation?

A. We purchased our first Nutanix system two years ago. We started our journey with a proof of concept for a point solution around Microsoft analytics. We put in a modest implementation of Nutanix, just to get our feet wet and to figure out what it could do. The system provided unprecedented returns in terms of both performance and productivity. It became very clear, even before the proof of concept days were over, that we should expand the Nutanix infrastructure to replace our aging traditional three-tier infrastructure.

Q. Have you expanded the Nutanix solution to any other areas?

A. After the POC, we immediately began making plans to do a measured expansion of those Nutanix resources. We started by doing a migration of our customer-facing web workloads for the software as a service (SaaS) applications that we provide. It was a relatively simple move. Almost all of our production customer-facing workloads are now on our three Nutanix clusters. As we gained confidence, we started moving our database workloads over to Nutanix. We also implemented a disaster recovery cluster in Chicago that is a mirror of the Nutanix production cluster. We are now looking at how we can continue on our journey of replacing our legacy systems entirely. We are excited about the prospect of reducing our footprint in the data center with Nutanix as a key part of our implementation strategy.

Q. Do you use cloud services today?

A. Internally we use ServiceNow as a cloud service and all of our customer-facing solutions are served up using our private cloud infrastructure built on Nutanix. We are continually looking at public cloud services where they make sense in terms of meeting business needs but we are very confident in our own Nutanix private cloud infrastructure to meet those needs today.

Q. Will you be attending .NEXT this year?

A. Of course! The number one thing I am looking forward to is interacting with my peers and talking with folks who are working in the field. I want to see what kind of insights they have to share. But from a technology specific standpoint, I am particularly interested in a couple of key areas. I think number one on my list is the application mobility framework, understanding a little bit more about what that means for us, and how it dovetails with the Nutanix AHV. Because of the financial pressure around licensing in the VMware environment, the idea that I could potentially move some or all of my workloads to the Acropolis running AHV is very appealing to me. I am also interested in hearing more about business continuity and disaster recovery. Nutanix is always adding value and has been doing a lot of work in those areas, so I am really excited to hear what’s happened in the last year or so.

And finally, there are several Nutanix sessions on security that I am eager to attend. I am interested in hearing the industry thought leadership around protecting client data. As we continue to go down the cloud path, I want to ensure that we are doing that in a responsible manner– one that ensures security and enables us to make our systems even better.

Q. Is Hallmark presenting any sessions this year?

A. Yes, I am on a panel with Nutanix and several other customers discussing best practices for leveraging Nutanix for test/development and clouds. I am also looking forward to sharing my experience with my peers. I am always eager to see what Nutanix comes up with for the conference—and I know I won’t be disappointed!

Come visit us at .NEXT! For more information or to register for the event, visit: https://www.nutanix.com/next-user-conference

Learn more about the various sessions in the Apps and Workloads track by visiting: https://www.nutanix.com/next/agenda

About Hallmark Business Connections

As the business-to-business unit of Hallmark Cards, Inc., Hallmark Business Connections leverages more than 100 years of Hallmark heritage, creativity and innovation in the business arena to provide meaningful, memorable and measurable solutions that strengthen business relationships with employees and customers.

Hallmark Business Connections crafts innovative solutions that positively amplify employee and customer relationships that create measurable business impact. Hallmark Business Connections is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., with locations in Kansas City, Mo., and Duluth, Minn. For more information, visit http://www.hallmarkbusinessconnections.com