The Useful Simple Trust – Case Study

Project Summary

The benefits a SmartStack™ solution delivers, together with a transparent pricing structure, wins the day for the Useful Simple Trust.

Setting the Scene

The Useful Simple Trust is an employee benefit trust consisting of five innovative companies specialising in the field of sustainable design, engineering and educational services.
The Trust is associated with some of the world’s most iconic projects, from the London 2012 Velodrome to Las Arenas in Barcelona, valued between £30,000 and £500m.
The Useful Simple Trust was operating within an aging IT infrastructure which was insufficient to support the future growth strategy of the businesses within the group. A five year maintenance agreement with their Dell EqualLogic storage array was coming to an end, with no option to extend the agreement. The time was right to start looking for a new solution.

The Challenge

The Trust’s requirements were focused on:
  • Longevity – the Trust didn’t want to be in the same situation in another five years so a long-term solution was a pre-requisite.
  • Flexibility/Scaleability – the solution needed to be able to support the expansion and evolution of the companies in the group in terms of capacity and performance, within the same infrastructure and without the requirement for capital investment in the near future.
  • Price – pricing should represent good value for money – the Trust needed to see what they were getting for their money with ‘no surprises’.
  • Ease of operation – the solution needed to be intuitive in the early training phase and low maintenance in the long term.
  • Security – data protection, backup and recovery should be seamless and require minimum intervention.
  • Power Consumption – with the Trust’s own ethos of sustainability, the solution’s impact on the environment was a key consideration.

The Useful Simple Trust needed a solution that would be:

Durable and Secure

Flexible and Scalable

Easy to operate

Environment friendly

The Solution

The Trust’s IT team initiated a thorough technical due diligence process, evaluating numerous converged and non-converged storage solutions in the marketplace including NetApp, Dell and EMC.
The converged SmartStack™ solution was selected as the primary IT infrastructure to support the data storage and protection needs for all five companies in the Trust, supplied and installed by NG-IT.
SmartStack™ combines best of breed server, networking and storage from Nimble Storage and Cisco with leading software vendors including VMware, Microsoft and Citrix to provide a complete private cloud infrastructure.
A key differentiator in the selection process was NG-IT’s clarity of proposition combined with the quality of the solution. The total transparency of the pricing presented enabled the decision makers within the team to see exactly what they were getting for the money.
Also, following an in-depth evaluation (involving detailed calculations and cost comparisons) the Trust identified that the competitor solutions reviewed would use 2-3 times the power of the SmartStack™ solution. The SmartStack™ single shelf solution produces less heat due to its size so requires less cooling.

The Benefits

Although still in its infancy, the Trust has already experiencing numerous benefits:

  • Short Learning Curve – after just one day’s on-site training from NG-IT, the team was competent enough to administer the new solution.
  • Ease of operation – Administration of the Trust’s previous server had been time-consuming and at times, problematic. SmartStack’s intuitive web Interface has been designed to ease administration and in the words of the client, eliminates all the complexities and ‘just works’. The previous solution (storage only) utilised 6U, whereas SmartStack™ now utilises 3U and the amount of cabling has been reduced from 48 cables to 16. A 10Gb Ethernet cable has been deployed to the distribution layer, as a more efficient alternative to the multiple 1Gb cables which would have been required for the competitor solutions reviewed.
  • Latency reduced – Exchange server average latency has been reduced from 7msec to under 0.5msec.
  • Visibility – Nimble Storage’s InfoSight analytics deliver total transparency by allowing the team to easily interrogate reports and check status at a glance, detecting any issues before they become problems.
  • Improved Efficiency – one platform for storage and disaster recovery has improved efficiency and saved time. The ability to run Nimble replicas at night has reduced the workload on the Trust’s Veeam server by 30%, resulting in a reduction in checking time too.

Client testimonial:

Steven Duckworth, IT Manager

Deploying the SmartStack™ solution with NG-IT was trouble free and has enabled us to improve performance and capacity in a reduced footprint whilst simplifying the overall system. We can scale capacity, performance and hosts independently of one another so have managed to achieve the ultimate in flexibility. I’d happily recommend this solution and NG-IT to anyone looking to achieve a powerful integrated solution that scales well and is easy to operate.