The race to refresh storage before end users experience issues
Founded more than 50 years ago, LT Apparel is a privately-held company that designs, sources and markets apparel and accessories throughout the United States. The company cultivates a strong portfolio of licensed and owned brands sold through 2,300+ retail partners and 20,000+ individuals. Direct relationships with each retailer and licensor ensure company brands stay true to their heritage and resonate with consumers.
Maureen Caulfield, the LT Apparel Systems Manager, faced the challenge of an aging storage infrastructure nearing end-of-life. She also hoped to find a way to make it easier for the internal IT team to manage the overall IT infrastructure—including storage, servers and network components.
“With just a few of us on the IT team taking on more-and-more tasks, we need technologies that do not require a lot of time to manage,” Caulfield says. “When you have separate platforms for servers, storage and the network, there’s a lot extra effort just going back-and-forth to maintain each system.”
End-users were not yet experiencing performance issues because of the aging storage infrastructure, but Caulfield did not want to wait much longer before deploying a new solution. “Whenever a company goes through an upgrade, it takes a little while for IT and end users to feel comfortable with the new technology,” Caulfield explains. “If you are forced to rush the process because you wait until systems degrade or fail, the transition can be a lot more disruptive to day-to-day operations.”
Converged infrastructure approach enables fast deployment
Just before Caulfield was about to partner with an IT solution provider on a new storage infrastructure, she received a call from HP, which recommended talking to its strategic partner Logicalis about the benefits of a converged infrastructure. Such a solution would not only address LT Apparel’s storage needs, it would also refresh their server infrastructure, which was also starting to age.
Caulfield is glad HP and Logicalis came along at just the right time. “The converged infrastructure approach is exactly what our IT team needs,” Caulfield explains. “In addition to providing end users with improved performance, it’s now much easier for us to manage all the servers, storage and networking components since the management component is consolidated into one platform.”
Another key benefit of the converged infrastructure approach is that it can be deployed faster than traditional infrastructures. Caulfield appreciates that new servers and storage were in place prior to any end-user issues occuring.
Pre-deployment assessment identifies necessary solution requirements
Logicalis also impressed Caulfield with its approach towards designing a converged infrastructure and then demonstrating how much easier it is to manage. Utilizing the HP NinjaThin tool, the Logicalis team first conducted a thorough assessment and sizing evaluation of the LT Apparel environment.
The thoroughness of the assessment and the follow-up white board discussions gave LT Apparel confidence that Logicalis could deliver the required solution. After determining the necessary components and architecture design, Logicalis then conducted a demonstration of an HP ConvergedSystem 700x in action at the HP Executive Briefing Center. This convinced Caulfield of the overall value the solution would offer.
“It was key that Logicalis took the time to truly comprehend what we need,” Caulfield adds. “They understand that a small staff like ours needs systems that are easy to manage. During the process, we also built a strong relationship with the Logicalis team as they invested time to grasp exactly how our business operates.”
Servers, storage and the network now managed from a single console
The HP ConvergedSystem 700x infrastructure designed by Logicalis allowed LT Apparel to consolidate its two data centers into one and virtualize most of the remaining physical servers. The more robust and reliable VMware server platform within the converged infrastructure can also scale easily to meet future needs.
The solution replaced the aging shared storage array with an enterprise-class storage platform. The feature set of the HP 3PAR storage system includes tiered storage with solid-state drives (SSD) and serial-attached interfaces (SAS). Logicalis also deployed an HP BladeSystem c7000 Enclosure—with interconnect modules and two additional HP BL460c blade servers to ensure high availability and performance. The servers operate on the robust and reliable VMware virtualization server platform, which can scale easily for future needs.
Another key component of the solution is HP OneView. The management software works across the converged servers and storage that Logicalis implemented as well as the new networking infrastructure deployed by another solution provider.
The HP OneView console eliminates management complexity and provides task automation capabilities—thus reducing the day-to-day operational overhead of Caulfield’s small IT staff. The software also integrates with VMware vCenter for advanced management capabilities of LT Apparel’s virtual servers.
Creative offering controls solution costs
To help LT Apparel control the cost of the solution, Logicalis leveraged HP program discounts that allowed the server components to be implemented at a reduced cost. Logicalis also offered a five-year support plan, which allows LT Apparel to lock in maintenance costs for an extended time.
“Our previous storage maintenance contract lasted only three years and then jumped significantly in price, so the five-year contract is a key added benefit,” Caulfield says. “This is also a prime example of how Logicalis builds strong relationships—by genuinely looking out for the best interests of the customer.
Immediate performance improvements also set the stage for future enhancements
The HP converged infrastructure solution deployed by Logicalis for LT Apparel is generating several key benefits that enable the IT infrastructure to achieve optimal performance:
“The key to the success of this project was Logicalis understanding our needs and then aligning those needs to the solution design,” Caulfield concludes. “We need easy-to-deploy and manage technologies that also fit within our budget. That’s exactly what Logicalis provided along with a platform we can grow into over the next 3-5 years. We also have the ability to deploy technologies such as flash storage and virtual environments, which will allow us to take advantage of cloud solutions in the near future.”