I recently had the opportunity to hear from Danny Cox, CFO of the Bell Group (Rio Grande). He spent a few moments sharing his experiences with PAN Manager from Egenera. I've watched Egenera for quite some time and am happy to have had a chance to learn from someone using PAN Manager. Danny's comments follow.
Please tell me who you are and what your organization does?
Danny Cox, CFO of The Bell Group (Rio Grande). Rio Grande is a distributor to the jewelry industry and major supplier of silver and silver findings to jewelers in the U.S. We make jewelers’ lives easier and more fun with great service, exclusive designs and innovative solutions.
What are you doing that needed this technology?
Over the past five years, we’ve experienced significant annual growth. Our initial approach to meet the expanded computing requirements was to purchase the fastest servers with the most memory. Keeping up with hardware needs and increased network traffic was a constant frustration - the newest hardware and software was over provisioned and the older servers were under provisioned.
What products did you consider before selecting something?
VMware running on legacy servers.
Why was this product selected over the others?The primary reasons we chose PAN Manager by Egenera were:
- Rapid server provisioning
- Ability to upgrade or downgrade within minutes by moving a server to another blade
- Less complex but more assured Disaster Recovery solution
What tangible benefits has the organization received that can be directly attributed to the use of this technology?
There are many tangible benefits. We’ve been able to transition from over 75 individual systems to less than 30 and can now more easily and accurately size the process to the server without time consuming server reallocation. Rapid provisioning of test servers was crucial during our proof of concept.
The test servers required a lot of third party customization and Egenera allowed us to create test environments on the fly. We can have a test environment up and running within as little as 30 minutes which can then be easily moved to make room on the blade or “slice” of the blade available for something else.
In the past, as our server farm grew we were faced with many single points of failure. If a mission critical server failed, so would our complete order process, impacting our cash flow and Rio Grande’s brand image. PAN Manager software by Egenera makes Disaster Recovery easy because servers can be re-provisioned on the fly, so we can quickly bring the system back up.
The solution also allows us to simplify our PC requirements, the combination of Egenera and Citrix (an access virtualization solution - DK) eliminated the need to upgrade over 300 PCs. And now all data, plus most of the processing resides on the Egenera servers – Egenera is the horse power of our environment.
Additionally, our server room previously generated a lot of heat. A side benefit of consolidation is lower power consumption, resulting in a greener, more cost efficient computing environment.
There are many additional benefits including:
- Reports and queries are completed in a fraction of the time compared with our legacy servers
- Cost savings related to fewer SQL Server licenses
- More accurate sizing of processes to servers
- Less floor space
- Faster software upgrades
- High-speed backplane with a data transfer rate between blades at 2.5 Gigabits per second.
- Lower administrative expense; System Administrators now have more time to focus on creating innovative ideas rather than wasting time keeping mission critical, legacy servers up.
What advice would you offer others facing similar challenges?
After years of fighting to keep mission critical servers on line, I recommend that an IT staff not risk its company's profit, future and brand image on anything but Egenera technology!
I've posted on Egenera from time to time (please see More commentary on Egenera
and Egenera: New pals for PAN Manager
). The company was a pioneer in the blade computing arena and developed outstanding management and orchestration software. Now that that software is "unleashed" and is available on machines from other suppliers, it might be of great interest to organizations, like Rio Grande, that are doing their best to address the needs for a consolidated and yet agile environment.