IT Chief Heals Growing Pains At Expanding SMB - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

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.)

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

News
Remote Work Tops SF, NYC for Most High-Paying Job Openings
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  7/20/2021
Slideshows
Blockchain Gets Real Across Industries
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  7/22/2021
Commentary
Seeking a Competitive Edge vs. Chasing Savings in the Cloud
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  7/19/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
Video
Current Issue
Monitoring Critical Cloud Workloads Report
In this report, our experts will discuss how to advance your ability to monitor critical workloads as they move about the various cloud platforms in your company.
Slideshows
Flash Poll