Building a Better Data Center
A complex and troublesome data center migration left Gesa Credit Union (Gesa) understandably hesitant about doing it again. But the reality was unavoidable. Nearing 140,000 members and over 450 network users, Gesa was growing at a rate faster than its infrastructure could scale. Director of Architecture and Analytics Andrew Chung began researching what that next phase would look like. “We toured the country,” he explains, “taking ideas from the world’s best data centers and integrating them into our planning.”
After a year and a half of preparation that included securing a physical location and developing an overall vision for the project, Gesa was ready to find a partner who could help them design, implement and migrate. “We did our due diligence and visited with multiple vendors who specialized in data center migrations. We decided we were most comfortable with Structured. Having worked with them on previous networking and storage projects, we had proven results from the past. The trust was there,” explains the Director of Architecture and Analytics.
For Gesa, engineering cohesion often determines success, and Structured’s internal team provided the high level of expertise and cohesion the project needed. “Many vendors and resellers ship engineering to third-party providers. This creates problems down the line, because you don’t have the same people working on the project from end to end. At Structured, everyone is on the same page — from design to implementation.” Structured provided the granular details that Gesa and its IT team were looking for, including rack layout, network design, logistics planning, and even securing the hardware that gave Gesa the ability to scale for years to come.
Avoiding a headache
Extended downtime was Gesa’s salient concern. The IT department desperately wanted to avoid this headache, having experienced downtimes that strain internal operations and jeopardize customer relationships. “Being a financial institution,” Gesa explains, “we can’t have any downtime — or at least more than the bare minimum. But we had gone through this before, and we anticipated many issues and complications.” Prioritizing Gesa’s concerns, Structured storage engineers designed a solution that would minimize downtime and maximize efficiency. Using VMware, Structured storage and systems engineers cloned and copied Gesa’s infrastructure, beginning with all non-critical applications, and moved it to the new center. This plan allowed Gesa to avoid a forklift migration, i.e., doing it all at once. “Instead of one big move, we migrated slowly. It helped us immensely to be able to take our time and not rush anything overnight. We would move something, validate its install, then do more. The migration was smooth.”
The data center project also provided Gesa with new opportunities for long-awaited upgrades, including Juniper Networks’ scalable fabric switching system, QFabric and NetApp’s data management software, ONTAP. “We were very excited [about ON-TAP],” Gesa explains, “but we couldn’t take the risk in our previous environment. Our new equipment gave us the opportunity to install, and the efficiency and redundancy has been fantastic.”
A Mounting Success
Gesa Credit Union has a data center that is set up to succeed in the long term, and thanks to Structured, Gesa’s fear of data center migration has passed. “We had minimum downtime and the migration was smooth. Throughout this whole process we were very impressed with Structured. They are our most trusted and reliable partner — for both reselling and professional services.”
Due to this project’s success, Structured has since helped Gesa establish a new disaster recovery (DR) site. “We had already working plan in place with the first migration and we duplicated the DR to be just like the DC. [That migration] was even easier.”