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How to Build a Software-Defined Data Center and Consolidate IT

What if you had no centralized data center? And your finance department managed its own data? And your marketing team had its own server too? And sales … And HR … And they all hired their own IT consultants to help them, leaving your limited IT resources to be used as repairmen rather than strategic assets.

For the new IT director of a Native American tribe in the Southwest, that wasn’t a what-if. He immediately recognized a big problem: The 400-employee tribe had 42 departments each managing its own IT infrastructure ad hoc. It was unwise — and unsustainable. So, the IT director called on MicroAge’s Michael Zitar and Shawn Anderson, who have extensive experience working with Native American tribes and building data centers, to find out how to build a software-defined data center.

Michael and Shawn — along with other technical experts at MicroAge — were instrumental in helping the tribe strategically design and build a software-defined data center from scratch.

From the Ground Up

At the same time the MicroAge team was designing the software-defined data center, the tribe was working on the design and construction of a building to consolidate tribal government functions. That’s where the data center would be housed.

“Initially, we were given a tiny closet for the data center,” Michael says. “Then, the data center was inside the electrical room and that presents major problems. Due to static interference they would’ve had failures within a year.”

Jeffery Yarter, a partner development manager for Eaton, worked with MicroAge from the earliest stages of the project. Throughout his multiple site visits, Jeffery watched the construction of the new building. On his second visit, he noted that a couple transformers were in a poorly planned location near the UPS.

“The next time I was there, they had built a room for the transformers to keep them away from the UPS,” Jeffery says. The team advised the client on what they would need for space and adequate cooling for the data center.

Then, there was the issue of budget.

“If we had designed it with their legacy vendors, it would have been way over their budget,” Michael says. “We designed solutions that were cost effective without forfeiting any of the enterprise functionality they wanted. This required the client to move away from their legacy vendors and take our recommendations from the ground up.”

Related: Read about another software-defined data center that Shawn and Michael helped implement.

How to Build a Software-Defined Data Center from Scratch

MicroAge technical sales consultant Vicki Chacon was brought in to design the network in a way that met their goals and their budget.

Utilizing a software-designed data center strategy, Vicki designed a network infrastructure that securely supported the tribe’s data as well as VoIP (which they were doing for the first time). And music to any client’s ears: “We came in under budget,” Vicki notes.

The data center includes six HPE ProLiant BL460c blade servers, which were virtualized with VMware. Nimble Storage and Eaton power were also critical. And the solution included HPE Aruba 2920 48G switches and ShoreTel IP480G and IP485G phones as well.

The tribe’s data center solution included the ENERGY STAR-qualified rackmount Eaton BladeUPS Power System, which expands power protection while reducing energy and cooling costs.

“It’s a redundant, reliable solution,” Jeffery says. “It’s flexible and scalable, which is unique in the industry. This system goes in a lot of 911 centers, where they need redundancy upon redundancy, so you know it’s very reliable.”

Plus, Eaton’s Intelligent Power Manager (IPM) software improves operations and system availability by centralizing and automating power monitoring and management functions in both physical and virtual environments.

For telecom, simple was the key. ShoreTel’s feature-rich functionality is built into the platform.

“It’s important for clients to understand the simplicity of the ShoreTel platform and the ability they’ll have to manage it all in-house. When you can bring a simplistic approach to unified communications, it enables the client to have the keys to the car,” says Sean Fair, director of client sales for ShoreTel’s Northwest/Rockies/Desert Region, who notes this is an important point for tribes. “The ability to put tribal members to work is important for sustainability.”

Increased Proactivity and Agility

Now that the new building is up and running and this software-defined data center solution is in place, the client has been able to centralize data and storage, consolidate IT operations and allow his team to be more strategic.

“The IT department can now monitor and manage all of their applications centrally on the VMware network,” Michael says. “They are more agile and proactive now in resolving issues and are experiencing fewer outages and support calls. They are also much more secure with the solutions put in place for both logical and physical security of their data management systems.”

If you’re looking for an extension of your IT team that understands how to build a software-defined data center from the ground up, Shawn Anderson and Michael Zitar are here to help, supported by practice managers with vast experience in their specialties. Contact Michael at 480-366-2120 or michael.zitar@microage.com and Shawn at 480-366-2167 or shawn.anderson@microage.com.

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Shawn Anderson
17 Years Experience
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Michael Zitar
11 Years Experience
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