Simply better business from a Nutanix Cloud at the Fresca Group
All The Benefits Of An Agile, Scalable And Easy To Manage IT Infrastructure Without The Budgetary Uncertainty Of Public Cloud Migration
Public Cloud was top of the option list when fresh produce wholesaler, Fresca Group, needed to refresh its end-of-life IT infrastructure. However, the need for long term budgetary certainty led instead to Nutanix and an on-premise solution able to realise the same on-demand scalability, simple management and high availability benefits but with no risk of unexpected costs during its planned lifecycle.
Fresh produce wholesaler
- Significant reduction in complexity and operational overheads by consolidating five data centres into two
- Immediate improvement in application performance
- On-demand scalability and enhanced agility
- Reduced management overheads from single point of management for all physical and virtual resources
- Budgetary certainty across whole lifecycle of the solution
- Nutanix Cloud Platform
- Prism management plane
- Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor
- SAP ERP
- ProfitSystem CRM
- Keelings Knowledge Solutions
- Terminal Services
Nutanix is a win-win solution, giving us the technical benefits we were expecting from the public cloud – on-demand scalability, agility and simple management – but with none of the budgetary uncertainties that go hand in hand with wholesale migration to a third party provider.—Guy Lewis, CIO, Fresca Group
Business was booming at fresh produce wholesaler Fresca Group but, with its legacy IT infrastructure approaching end of life, the company was keen to examine all avenues to keep pace with further growth. Initially, public cloud looked favourite but, as Fresca Group CIO Guy Lewis explains, the numbers needed to get business stakeholders on board simply didn’t add up.
“Like most large enterprises we work on a 5-year cycle for our IT equipment and a major refresh was due,” he said. “One option was a like-for-like upgrade but we also wanted to consolidate our data centre estate to make it more efficient, reduce complexity and simplify management. All of which, initially, pushed us towards a public cloud migration. The elephant in the room, however, was a real lack of budgetary certainty which became a real sticking point when it came to approval from business stakeholders.”
As a Microsoft Enterprise customer, the preferred platform was Azure, but there were big question marks when it came to optimising the existing setup to take best advantage of what that platform had to offer. For example, simply replicating the on-premise estate alone would require the company to, potentially, over-provision virtual machines and subscribe to a premium tier storage plan, with yet more costs to add when factoring in high availability and geographic resilience needs.
“We tried several times to come up with a viable plan for public cloud migration,” said Lewis, “but none provided the kind of cost guarantees business stakeholders were looking for and all were pushed back.”
Fortunately, Fresca already had a good relationship with Softcat, a leading provider of IT infrastructure and a Nutanix partner. Following its involvement, Lewis and his team quickly realised that an on-premise hyperconverged infrastructure was the way forward with Nutanix the favourite when it came to potential vendors.
“Once we got to see it for ourselves it became clear that, from an operational viewpoint, there was little difference between a public cloud like Azure and what a Nutanix private cloud could deliver using on-premise equipment. More than that, the Nutanix solution would provide the cost certainty our stakeholders wanted, over the whole life of the product.”
Infrastructure to go
From then on things happened very rapidly with plans drawn up to use the Nutanix Cloud Platform to consolidate five existing data centres into just two, to be located in Evesham and at a colo site in Maidstone. Nutanix clusters were ordered and installed at both of these sites and the process of migrating workloads from the old to new infrastructure started in earnest.
For vendor support reasons the existing Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor was retained, but the hypervisor neutrality of the Nutanix architecture meant this wasn’t a problem. Moreover, it gives the Fresca team the flexibility to deploy future workloads under Hyper-V, Nutanix AHV or VMware hypervisors, as required and at no extra cost.
In total some 42 physical servers were migrated to the two new Nutanix clusters along with over 30TB of data with 120 virtual workloads consolidated down to just 90 as part of the process. This not only freed up rack space but enabled Lewis and the team to build a much simpler infrastructure which, with faster processors and all-flash storage, also delivered a major hike in performance. Backup times, for example, were more than halved while applications across the board became noticeably quicker and more responsive.
To minimise disruption the migration was staged over two months with Lewis impressed with how easy the process was and how seamless as far as both his team and the rest of the business were concerned.
“Given the complexity of the existing infrastructure we were concerned that even minor interruptions in availability could have serious implications across the business as a whole,” commented Lewis. “But – and I can’t stress this enough – thanks to the expertise and professionalism of all involved there was simply no disruption during migration whatsoever. It all went very, very smoothly and, apart from the obvious performance improvements, the business itself was unaware what was happening.”
With its on-demand scalability and single console management, the Nutanix Cloud Platform has also had an impact on the lives of the support team, as Warwick Botwright, IT Manager at Fresca Group explains.
“Previously it might take days or even weeks to roll out new applications or scale processor and disk resources,” he said. “But with Nutanix, new workloads can be brought online very rapidly and resources fine-tuned in minutes to meet demand. It also makes troubleshooting a lot easier, in turn, freeing up staff from simple maintenance tasks to considering broader ways of taking advantage of the new infrastructure.”
As far as the future is concerned, it's early days yet, with the emphasis very much on delivering business as usual to meet expected levels of growth. That said, Lewis and the team are also busy hatching plans for the future to, for example, automate processes, deploy new applications and generally take full advantage of the Nutanix infrastructure to deliver even better, simpler business going forward.