IT Chief Heals Growing Pains At Expanding SMB - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Mobile
News
7/26/2012
11:11 AM
50%
50%

IT Chief Heals Growing Pains At Expanding SMB

Georgia-based Digital Insurance has IT pain points that might sound familiar. Consider these strategies if your SMB has a growing need for speed.

Challenge: The hardware hodgepodge.

As with other areas such as development, Schoen found inconsistent hardware platforms when he arrived. "It's the nature of the small company: As they grow, there's this server sprawl," Schoen said. The disparate locations of Digital Insurance's growing staff only complicated the issue.

Solution: Server virtualization.

"With VMware, we've reduced the footprint of our servers, and the technology is much easier to manage from one location," Schoen said. That became all the more important because while the company's headcount grew by 50% last year, IT's headcount actually went down by one person.

Challenge: Data, Data, Data.

Schoen never uttered the current phrase of choice--big data--but Digital Insurance deals with it by the boatload. Because it's ultimately a healthcare company, it deals with heavy-duty compliance requirements, among other data drivers. In everyday terms, it can't throw stuff away, no matter how old. Schoen noted that his team must service massive amounts of documents and emails because of the nature of Digital Insurance's business. "I would guess there are companies five or ten times our size that do less email than we do," he said.

The real problem: Digital Insurance's original storage infrastructure wasn't set up to scale beyond a certain size--once the available drives were maxed out, they'd have to "forklift" in more storage. But that would have required more people and infrastructure than the company had the resources for.

Solution: Storage virtualization.

Digital Insurance moved from its physical storage infrastructure to NetApp; the company's data growth rate simply couldn't be sustained otherwise. "If my SQL server now needs another 50 GB or 150 GB of storage, I don't have to back it up and restore it on a new piece of hardware because we can change it on the fly," Schoen said. "It's the same thing as virtualizing the servers; virtualizing the storage was just as important because of the growth rate."

Schoen said the company's infrastructure makeover has improved another area, too: Disaster recovery. In the past, Digital Insurance effectively had no redundancy for its on-site data center. "[The new infrastructure] allowed us to have a DR [plan], whereas four years ago a company of our size just couldn’t afford it," Schoen said. "It still adds a lot of complexity, which I think a lot of smaller companies are afraid of. But I would say it's much easier than it was."

Of course, that has created one of IT's next challenges: Actually testing that DR plan.

IT can't maintain absolute control over highly virtualized infrastructures. Instituting a smart role-based control strategy to decentralize management can empower business units to prioritize their own data assets while freeing IT to focus on the next big project. Download our Delegation Delivers Virtualization Savings report. (Free registration required.)

Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll