Amerijet Holdings moves to virtual datacenter: A Dell customer profile

Successfully moving to a virtual environment requires an understanding of the organization's needs, strengths of many products and a set of careful processes. Amijet Holdings describes its choice of Dell and VMware products.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor on

From time to time, I have the opportunity to chat with someone using a supplier's technology. It is very helpful to learn what a customer is actually doing and thinking, rather than merely relying on what the supplier has to say. This time, Jennifer Torlone, senior director of Technology and Information Services at Amerijet Holdings, took the time to answer my questions and explain why Dell's products and services were the company's choice.

Please introduce yourself and your organization.

My name is Jennifer S Torlone. I am a senior director of Technology and Information Services at Amerijet Holdings, Inc, Amerijet's parent company.

What were you doing that needed this type of technology?

As a global cargo shipping company carrying more than 200 million pounds of freight annually to over 550 destinations worldwide, time is critical to us. Customers in the Americas, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East depend on us to move their personal and commercial cargo quickly, securely, and reliably whether its via land, sea, or air.

Amerijet's worldwide cargo transportation services rely on a flexible and integrated IT infrastructure to get planes in the air faster, meet more customs cut-off times, provide better customer service, and support our organic business growth.

However, our existing systems were not able to support our continued global growth, and we had run out of space in our datacenter facility. We needed to change our approach to technology and information services management in order to support the new product launches and extreme business growth we were expecting.

What products did you consider?

We began a three-year plan for change that included moving to a new datacenter facility and replacing our mixed-vendor environment with an end-to-end Dell and VMware infrastructure. We needed a virtual environment that could provide maximum availability and performance for Windows Server-based workloads such as Microsoft Exchange Server and SQL Server, as well as other applications and databases, including our cargo management systems.

Why did you select this technology?

We saw an opportunity to make a fundamental shift that would turn our IT into a business enabler. We have seen what Dell can do for our business, and thought its end-to-end solutions provided the necessary ingredients to build a reliable, scalable, and flexible IT infrastructure. The assistance we would receive from Dell ProSupport would help guide us through this monumental change, so Dell was a natural choice for a partner.

Executing our three-year plan, we built a new virtualized datacenter based on Dell blade servers, storage, switches, desktops, printers, firewalls, and backup software, as well as services. To keep the physical server footprint small, we chose Dell PowerEdge M620 half-height blade servers, housed in a Dell PowerEdge M1000e modular blade enclosure, running VMware vSphere.

To support our new virtual server environment, we deployed a Dell Compellent Storage Center SAN with Dell AppAssure backup software. We also upgraded our 1 gigabit network to 10 gigabit Ethernet with Dell PowerConnect switches to enable an infrastructure that can easily scale in the future. To secure our network and improve visibility into application-based threats, we replaced our existing VPN solution with Dell SonicWall next-generation firewalls at our headquarters and each of our 84 sites around the world.

What tangible benefit have you received through the use of this technology?

With Dell, we were able to make this major infrastructure shift a smooth one. With assistance from Dell Services, we were able to migrate our entire datacenter in 10 hours. We have also seen a 60 percent reduction of datacenter facility costs with an energy efficient, virtualized infrastructure, running more than 120 virtual servers on just 14 Dell blades.

All the Dell equipment installed quickly, and works seamlessly together. This gives us simplicity, reliability, and speed to keep up with rapidly expanding business requirements. We are faster. The new virtualized IT infrastructure enables us to run cargo inventory reports in seconds, instead of 30 to 40 minutes, so our IT department can focus on strategic thinking and avoid unplanned downtime. We have also reduced the time to close flights by 96 percent (from 2 minutes versus 45 minutes), expediting freight transportation and improving customer satisfaction.

Moreover, we've been able to connect Amerijet's global VPN network of 84 locations around the world using Dell SonicWall. It gives us a more flexible VPN infrastructure than our previous solution. We have visibility into our entire VPN network, which we didn't have before, in addition to centralized management. The beauty of Dell SonicWall and the Global Management System is that it allows us to react quickly to business needs.

What advice would you offer others?

Making the move to a new datacenter is no easy task, and much risk is involved. Be sure to choose your technology partner wisely, one that knows your business and genuinely cares about what you do. Consider the time it will take to migrate, what support will be provided, and always keep your customers in mind.

Snapshot analysis

Amerijet Holdings considered its needs and products offered by system and virtualization technology suppliers and selected Dell and VMware. Others facing similar needs have made different selections. Some have chosen HP, IBM, or some other supplier for the systems, and a different selection of virtualization suppliers.

International support is obviously very important to a shipping company that serves a worldwide client base.

Another factor is a set of virtualization tools to address processing, network, storage virtualization, and management tools for virtualized environments.

What's most significant to me is that Amerijet took the time to consider their needs and develop an architecture rather than merely picking a few products and building their environment on them. In the long run, this careful approach is more likely to produce the desired results than one that is product-focused.

I appreciate your time, Jennifer. Thanks.

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