Four Questions to Ask Your Converged Infrastructure Vendor
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An Interview with Matthew Coy
When Matthew Coy was hired as the Director of IT for a mid-sized company in Columbus, Ohio, his first day on the job was memorable.
The network went down… and stayed down.
“I was actually filling out my HR forms. I couldn’t complete the process because there was no network.”
Matthew quickly learned that this was not an uncommon occurrence.
“This company was like many organizations impacted by the recession of a few years ago. Capital expenditures in IT were frozen as the company navigated turbulent economic times.”
As Coy dug a little deeper, he learned that network uptime was only about 88%, something the business could no longer tolerate.
“In information technology, seven years is a very long time. Our outdated technology was actually threatening our business instead of supporting it. We were in triage mode and needed to act quickly and decisively to give our employees and business units every advantage by delivering an environment they could rely on.”
At the time, while Coy had experience with several vendors, he believed that he needed to do due diligence and select the best solution for the job at hand, not simply rely on what had worked for him in the past.
That meant answering four simple questions.
Four Questions to Ask Before Making a Decision
“The things I often hear in presentations are not what really matter to me. A lot of time and energy is spent talking about IOPS – ‘how fast we are, how we can scale, how we can give you an aggressive cost per unit of storage, how we stand behind our product, how we have a reference architecture.’ Sure, but everybody’s fast, everybody can scale, of course you stand behind your product. I shrug when I hear these things.” – Matthew Coy
When selecting technology, Matthew is always guided by four simple decision points:
- Will the technology work for this instance and for what this situation calls for?
- Will it fit the budget?
- Will the partner be able to do the work?
- Will it simplify life and improve ROI?
“We entertained proposals from two vendors,” explained Coy. “For the first three questions, everyone’s answers were ‘yes’. But for question four, only NetApp could check that box. The difference is their architecture and their philosophy. They have a data fabric vision which, for us, meant consistency and a simplified approach for deployment, manageability, and scale.”
For a decision of this magnitude, going from proposal to purchase order in sixty-two days is unprecedented – especially at this organization where no major technology investments had been made in seven years. Adoption and buy-in would involve several layers of management, including the CFO, CIO, and the CEO.
“Getting everybody on board so quickly was a testament to NetApp and their partner, Forsythe. Together they developed a quality solution that met our unique business needs, and then got it understood and agreed to across all the layers of management– that was thorough work. I also knew what these two organizations were capable of doing, so it was easy for me to stand behind the proposal.”
“Did you guys do something?”
About forty-five days after the PO was issued, their first workloads were in production. The impact was immediate. Users called with comments like, “This report that used to take four hours is now done in just a few minutes – did you guys do something?”
The new VDI architecture reduced report time from two hours to thirty minutes, while data warehouse processing time was cut in half. “These were big visual changes that were really exciting for the organization,” Coy enthused.
Quality of Service Drives 40% Increase in ERP Performance
The mission-critical business application increased by a dramatic forty percent. “We staged our workloads by order of priority and had everything online in a matter of a few months – much faster than any other project I had ever been involved in.”
Moving On – Scaling with Next-Generation Data Centers
Coy’s next assignment was to build an architecture that could scale on demand, responding to seasonal fluctuations or even Act of Nature scenarios such as flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, fire, etc.,
“I had to build for scale – something that supported a true API-driven platform. The FlexPod features I relied on in my previous data center, I still needed: the data fabric architecture with ONTAP, encryption, security, de-duping, compression, speed, etc. But I also needed the ability to scale fast. I knew I would be shifting priorities across workloads as seasonal, environmental, and geographical peaks impacted our ability to deliver.”
Coy and his team worked with NetApp to design a custom FlexPod. “The FlexPod architecture gave us precisely what we needed to ensure that our internal and external customers would have fast and immediate access to reliable and accurate data.”
Coy continues to help other organizations but his philosophy has not wavered.
“My mission at every organization I work for is to design and build infrastructure and platforms that enable us to support the business. Technology is changing, and businesses need to be more agile to respond.”
There are a broader variety of solutions to select from but Coy is adamant that the four questions have not changed.
“Ultimately, what excites me when I get up in the morning is how do I make it easier for the lives of the people I serve and how do I help our company fulfill its mission. It’s important to have the confidence to deliver what my business and our customers need. If I can answer those four questions, then I know I will be able to fulfill my mandate.”
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