A Wise Choice

A new end-to-end technology solution from Verteks Consulting delivers immediate bottom-line benefits for Bailey Industries.

The economy is in a recession and businesses of all sizes are cutting back. In this environment, a small firm in the home building products sector decided to upgrade its data network with all new, state-of-the-art technology. Sound crazy?

Yeah, crazy like a fox.

With help from Verteks Consulting, Bailey Industries utilized virtualization to replace 13 aging servers with four new systems, and implemented up-to-date storage and security solutions. The company has enjoyed numerous bottom-line benefits, including increased productivity, improved reliability and reduced risk. They’ve even cut their electric bill.

“We’re doing more with less of a footprint, and we’re better for it,” said Tom Shearon, IT Manager, Bailey Industries. “We’re more secure, we’re more productive and we’re saving money. When you look back, you think it sounded too good to be true. But when it was all said and done you realize that it has delivered all we had hoped for and more.”

Shrewd Decision

Bailey Industries employs about 50 people in its Leesburg, Fla., headquarters, and operates 11 Design Centers across the country with two to 10 people each. Shearon came on board in mid-2008 to manage the company’s IT infrastructure.

“The first thing I did was to assess what type of equipment we had, how old some of this stuff was, where our bottlenecks were and what problems we were having,” he said. “And immediately I realized we were running 13 servers, which is a lot for a company our size. They were each doing one job and not being fully utilized. But they were also very old. So I didn’t want to combine services on old boxes that might fail any day.”

We touched everything — servers, storage, security — to get down to a smaller, cost-eff ective hardware footprint. Verteks made it all work seamlessly without interrupting our business. I’m very pleased.”

Consolidating the servers using virtualization was clearly the answer, but Shearon first needed new equipment. He also needed expertise. His next step was to find a partner who could assist with the project while he kept up with the company’s day-to-day IT needs.

“I looked at several companies but couldn’t find a fit — I didn’t think they were in touch with the needs of the small to midsize business,” he said. “I was getting kind of discouraged. I thought, I’m going to have to do this myself and I didn’t want to because I also have to support the business. It would be a lot for one person to handle.”

Then he found Verteks Consulting.

“My 3Com rep told me about these guys in Ocala who do a lot of work with companies our size. So I decided to talk to them,” he said. “They came in and just blew my socks off. They understood how I wanted to use virtualization to save money and take advantage of the disaster recovery features. They also understood that we didn’t have the budget to go with a high-end virtualization solution. We hammered out a solid project plan and put it in front of management. And they said, ‘It looks good. Make it happen.’”

Cunning Strategy

The Verteks team helped Shearon consolidate 13 servers onto four new HP boxes, two of which are running Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V virtualization technology. Hyper-V is built into Windows Server 2008, providing Bailey Industries with the benefits of virtualization at no additional cost.

“On top of the simplified management and improved performance we get from virtualization, our power bill is down, simply because we went from 13 servers to four,” Shearon said. “The first month we saved over $200, just in electricity. That’s a big deal.”

Verteks also implemented an HP storage-area network to improve storage utilization, as well as a distributed file storage system to streamline storage management and give remote users faster access to local file stores. Off-site replication of critical data enables disaster recovery while eliminating the need to manage backup tapes.

“I can’t even explain how huge that is,” said Shearon. “I don’t have to worry about my data. It’s the exact solution I had in mind but I thought it would be difficult. Yet Verteks had it implemented in a short amount of time.

“I would have had to research all of these new technologies, but Verteks has implemented these solutions already. That kept us from experiencing the rough patches that often come up in a project of this scope. On top of that, they monitored our existing environment and took care of many issues that came up. There wasn’t any additional charge — it’s just part of what they provide.”

Very Clever

To improve security, Verteks replaced an inadequate freeware firewall with a WatchGuard unified threat management solution. The WatchGuard solution creates a multi-site VPN with a core firewall in the main office and edge firewalls at each remote site. In addition, an anti-spam solution minimizes the amount of junk e-mail traveling across the network.

“You get what you pay for, and the free firewall just wasn’t adequate for our needs,” Shearon said. “It was difficult to support and wasn’t customizable — you couldn’t set the priority of the data coming into your network, for example. We needed a high-quality unified threat management solution, and the WatchGuard product provides us with that.”

Best of all, Verteks Consulting took the risk out of making the leap toward new technology. The Verteks team helped Bailey Industries maximize the return on its investment and quickly see the wisdom of its decision.

“When you’re a network administrator, you don’t overhaul your environment very often. So if you’re a one-man show and you have to be operational, you better have some backup,” said Shearon. “Verteks does this every day, so it just makes good sense to rely on their expertise. We touched everything — servers, storage, security — to get down to a smaller, cost-effective hardware footprint. Verteks made it all work seamlessly without interrupting our business. I’m very pleased.”