Outsourcing IT to relieve pressure—on a number of fronts

Outsourcing IT to relieve pressure—on a number of fronts

With the help of a trusted managed services provider, Design Group is continuing to grow and flourish, even while everything else is stalling.

Bryan Kennison is beaming with pride. The IT director of Design Group, a Barry-Wehmiller Company, is recounting the fortitude of his cloud-based infrastructure during an unexpected hardware failure. As others around him scrambled for three hours, Kennison’s IT services continued to purr. Business as usual.

He tells the story like a parent describing his child’s first home run; only the infrastructure is not Kennison’s baby. It’s outsourced. 

“Everything is hosted,” Kennison says. “Our ERP system, SharePoint environment, BI tools, all of our data, backup, disaster recovery—everything.”

In a bit of uncomfortable irony, the failure impacted Barry-Wehmiller’s core infrastructure, which supports the company’s nine other divisions. With Design Group moving forward as much of the company focused on repairs, Kennison knew he had made the right decision.

Getting out of the data center business
Barry-Wehmiller is a $1.6 billion provider of capital equipment and consulting services for the packaging, paper converting, and corrugation industries. When a Fortune 500 company needs a new bottling line, packaging machine, or processing system, Design Group makes it happen. And demand has been plentiful.

  • A little over a decade ago, Design Group had 200 engineers spanning six offices. Today, it boasts 1000 engineering and technical specialists in more than 35 offices.
  • The years of rapid growth placed extreme pressure on the company’s technology infrastructure—pressure that threatened business continuity.

“We do things by billable hour in the Design Group, so we can’t have downtime, even if it’s in the middle of the night for system updates,” Kennison explains. “And our SAN was getting very old, so we had a decision to make. We could replace the Design Group SAN and run out of capacity in six months, which is what happened last time. Or we could pull all of it out of our house and have it hosted.”

Ultimately, he placed Design Group’s data and applications in the hands of a trusted managed services provider. What might seem like a defection from the parent company’s core infrastructure is actually part of a longer term and company-wide journey to the cloud. Barry-Wehmiller CIO Craig Hergenroether has set forth a vision of higher value service delivery and intends to “get out of the data center business.”

“IT brings value to the business, and the skills and talents we possess don’t require us to babysit hardware,” explains Robert Richards, CTO for Barry-Wehmiller. “The more we can transition to the cloud, the better. And the circumstances surrounding the Design Group’s SAN created a perfect opportunity to continue on that journey.”

  • Moving a portion of the company’s data and services to a hosted environment has benefited all parties.
  • Design Group was able to acquire the resiliency and scalability it needs, while at the same time providing relief for a Barry-Wehmiller data center that was bursting at the seams. 

“We needed an infrastructure that would be bullet proof,” Kennison says. “And we got it.”

No more late nights
Design Group’s IT resources are now managed by Netelligent, a Cisco Powered™ partner that offers enterprise-class infrastructure, networking, and data services built on the Intel® Xeon® processor-based Cisco Unified Computing System™. Kennison says he toured several data centers, and found Netelligent’s to be the perfect match for the company.

Design Group can now scale its IT resources up or down at a moment’s notice, supporting additional growth without fear of technology limitations. And with full-service hosting, around-the-clock monitoring, and daily reports from Netelligent, Kennison no longer works extended hours troubleshooting problems or installing software updates.

  • There are no more disruptive hardware implementations or time-consuming backups.
  • No more emergency calls are placed in the middle of the night.
  • No more service interruptions when a piece of hardware fails.

“I entrust my career with these people,” Kennison says. “Giving up a measure of visibility and control is a big deal. But it’s been a special relationship, and they’ve had my back the entire way.”

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