Hartung’s growth and acquisition of several companies forced, IT Director Carey Dyck, Asst. IT Director, Dr. Tim Mason and his staff to support more services. Their expansion created a need to update the company’s IT infrastructure. “We’ve been a Linux/Unix shop forever, but we needed to move to a new, Windows-based ERP/CRM system,” Mason recalled. “Our ERP system is a centralized application and we needed a new platform to support the new software.”
That requirement prompted Mason to call on BlackPoint IT Services for suggestions and solutions. BlackPoint provides one-stop managed IT and consulting services for a wide variety of IT challenges, including infrastructure, storage, virtualization, business continuity, and sustainable IT. “We’ve had a relationship with BlackPoint for 10 years now,” Mason observed. “They’ve got the ability to do 24/7 support as others do not.”
Despite that history, Mason knew he had to do his due diligence for a mission-crictial capital investment. “In today’s economic environment, you can’t just get one quote from one vendor,” he said. “We looked at vendors from Arizona to Chicago, including IBM and Dell representatives. Some of them gave us a great price, but were not available for 24/7 service, and that’s huge when you operate around the clock and in other countries where holidays are different. You have to support them when they are working.”
In addition to the new ERP/CRM system, Hartung also runs several in-house developed Web-based applications selected to allow the company to economize on data bandwidth among its many locations. Because so many aspects of Hartung’s business relies on these applications, Mason sought out the most reliable system he could identify.
“We looked at solutions from HP, IBM, and Dell,” he said. “We selected HP because we are trying to move as much as possible to industry standards, and HP is highly prolific in the server space, and everyone in the area has high regard for them.”
Mason quickly determined that HP’s Converged Infrastructure provided the performance and flexibility that his company needed. The HP Converged Infrastructure lets users turn today’s rigid technology silos into adaptive pools of resources that can be shared by many applications and managed as a service. The result is better alignment with the growing demands of the business with an IT infrastructure that will deliver better business results.
Working with BlackPoint’s engineering team, the company chose a solution based on HP BladeSystem technology. “With BladeSystem, I can start with two blades during test phase, and as we add manufacturing sites and our requirements increase, we can add resources without disruption,” Mason observed. “Also, Blades provide for failover within the system, so even if I dropped an entire Blade Server, I wouldn’t lose manufacturing capabilities.”
The HP BladeSystem solution runs Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization manager and Microsoft RDS services. Because the system supported so many vital applications, Hartung also purchased an HP chassis with two Layer 3 switches for redundancy, and XTM-510 WatchGuard appliances. Then, for added protection, Mason chose to install the new hardware in BlackPoint’s own data center. This co-location strategy allows Hartung to take advantage of BlackPoint’s IT expertise and avoid the time, cost, or resources required to deploy and maintain an on-premise solution.
“We partnered with BlackPoint for the complete co-location instalation, including virtualization, SAN installation, and our various critical servers including firewalls and switches,” Mason explained. “We wanted our vendor to possess a complete, 100 percent view and understanding of the system. That way they have the knowledge and skills necessary to solve problems, so they become more than a vendor – they’re a partner.”
The new infrastructure has provided Hartung Glass with the flexibility needed to support its growth. “With the SAN, 16TB of RAID storage, and everything else in the system, we have the ability to expand inside the server box without running out of space,” Mason said. “Where other companies would have to buy more racks, I can bump the processors up, add virtual network connectors for higher throughput, or put more RAM on the SQL server. To do it, I don’t have to shut anything down or pull anything out.”
The solution also allows Mason to make Hartung’s IT strategy track the needs of the organization and its users, rather than the other way around. “Often, manufacturing people feel IT is driving production, and will then drive IT purchases. Today, the smart way to do it is to let production tell you what their needs are, and you build the tools to get them there. With this system, that’s what we’re able to do.”
Mason built the new infrastructure with the future in mind, and BlackPoint is exceeding his expectations. “This whole experience is one big, positive outcome,” he reported. “I pulled BlackPoint in and worked with their engineers during the installation to make sure that everything would go seamlessly, and I can’t say enough good things about them. They’re always accessible when I need them, and I can call their engineers directly with questions or ideas.”
It’s a partnership that Mason expects will last. “When you look at business continuity, it encompasses much more than an install and a repair,” he said. “If something goes down, you need a partner that has the knowledge and information needed to solve the problem without checking back with you. We’re going to remain a lean IT department, and we see BlackPoint as a continuing partner in our IT infrastructure. They provide the support we need, so we can offload some of the every day routine tasks and focus on other projects.”