Telford Homes Plc is an AIM listed housebuilder operating in and around East and North London. Headquartered in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire around 100 computer users are located at head office with an additional 200+ distributed across the developments currently in progress.
Telford Homes Plc is incorporated and mainly operates in the UK. Publicly quoted companies have a heightened need to meet regulatory standards. The need to meet corporate governance and compliance obligations requires an exemplary approach to IT within the business. It is essential that data is protected from loss and that it is continually available.
Telford Homes was operating a conventional virtualised server environment with multiple virtual machines accessing shared storage on a local SAN (Storage Area Network) when it experienced a significant server-side hardware failure. This saw the SAN, manufactured by one of the world’s leading server hardware vendors, become inoperable.
Scott Wells, IT Manager at Telford Homes says:
“We initially thought it was the failure of one drive in the array. However, it was more fundamental than this – it was the failure of the backplane, the main element which provides the interconnection between the individual disks of the SAN. The manufacturer said it had never experienced this type of failure before.”
Scott Wells continues: “Through the established back up and disaster recovery contingency plans we had in place, the business was able to continue functioning. We did not lose any data, and the RTO (Recovery Time Objective) of the existing plans meant we were able to restore our data in around one day. The problem is that what once seemed adequate when it was set up was no longer suited to the needs of the business. The one day it took to restore systems represented an unacceptable disruption of our operations.”
The business took a view that it didn’t want to be in this situation again. Scott Wells says: “Essentially, we redefined our requirement. We wanted a solution that was always up, that provided the ability to have continual access to data and IT services across the company.”
Paralogic have long supported the use of technology within Telford Homes.
“We consulted with Paralogic who recommended we consider a new hyperconvergence server set up from Scale Computing. We were allowed to test a system which included simulating failures. We found it to be highly satisfactory and ordered three systems,” says Scott Wells.
He continues: “These are installed on our Cisco Meraki network to provide secure, cloud-based computing to our head office and remote users. Two primary clusters sit at head office with the third providing remote replication at Paralogic’s data centre. As part of optimising the installation, Paralogic and Scale engineers ‘stress tested’ the network to make sure we achieved maximum efficiency.”
After seven months the benefits of the system are very easy to identify.
“We now have a solution that is easy to use and operate. Scale’s HC3 software is a management console through which we monitor and control the system. For example, I can take a snapshot of a server with a single right click and expand storage on the fly without needing to shut anything down.”
“Also, the entire system is able to literally support itself. A drive failed and the system notified me by email. In the meantime it had also reported the situation back to the main support centre in the US and they messaged me to tell me a replacement drive was on its way.”
“At all levels, from senior management, IT and across our user base we now enjoy greater confidence in technology. We know that this server infrastructure guarantees exceptional systems’ availability and performance and is also able to accommodate any reasonable predicted growth of the business,” Scott Wells says.
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