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Blog July 9, 2020

IBM i Cloud Solution Maintains Momentum for Logistics Expert

In May, we discussed how remote management can relieve the “talent burden” as in-house IBM i experts retire. Another challenge Power Systems users face is when workloads are running on soon to be unsupported hardware. Recently, we helped a logistics company address their need to make critical upgrades to their aging infrastructure using the IBM i Power7 platform.

In this interview, we met with Trey Willis, CTSI-Global CTO, to discuss his latest project with Connectria. Check out how we were able to help CTSI modernize and save on overall capital costs.

IBM is in Connectria's DNA

What’s Your Background?

CTSI-Global is a 60+-year-old business in the supply chain and logistics industry. From a technology perspective, we’ve run and operated our infrastructure until we started this relationship with Connectria. Up until about three and a half years ago, we managed on our own after having built our own data center inside of our headquarters.

What Problem Were You Trying to Solve?

Through sheer aging and maturation of the infrastructure, it was time for us to make some fundamental upgrades. We focused on a normal cycle of software upgrades; general patching and maintenance were challenging to keep up with. What I would call the typical reasons you would consider moving to a managed IT services were all very present.

Why Did You Choose Connectria?

I come from a managed IT services provider background of 15 years before joining the CTSI-Global team. The model that Connectria uses, the types of service that they offer are very familiar to me. We started with a simple assessment and put out an RFP with the primary goals of:

  1. Auditing internal team bandwidth
  2. Modernizing and upgrading our infrastructure and software
  3. Updating our data center and data center operations, focusing on security and fire suppression, battery backups, generator maintenance

What Goals Did You Want to Accomplish?

My goal coming in was to find ways to simplify and stabilize the infrastructure. I put together a business case of either purchasing new hardware and hiring more people or look to outsource to a service provider like Connectria. We entertained several vendors with a close top three. Connectria was a clear winner and stood out during the process with a strong presentation, both commercially and operationally. We signed in September of 2017 and were fully migrated by early 2018.

Selection Criteria and Final Solution

The entrance criteria for the RFP required a native IBM i (formerly iSeries/AS400) operational background in the portfolio as a standard offering, preferably in-house and not through a subcontractor or partner relationship. The core of our business, about 70 percent, was running on that platform at the time of the migration. So, criteria number one came down to needing someone with great IBM experience from both an architectural and systems administration perspective. Criteria number two was that we needed someone well versed in private cloud infrastructure. The other half of our infrastructure was running on a dedicated cloud hypervisor-based infrastructure on a Windows-based platform. The final criteria was an in-house disaster recovery solution that would accompany them.

We wanted the MSP to do both criteria one and two natively with their staff, teams, and tools. We also needed them to handle a disaster recovery type of environment with data replication as well as proven solid recovery time (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO). In the end, Connectria replaced our on-site IBM i and Intel environments with an IBM i Cloud and VMware/Intel environment combined with a Disaster Recovery environment with data replication that supported our RTO and RPO.

What Would Have Happened If You Had NOT Made the Purchase?

Had we not created the relationship with Connectria at the time, we simply would have continued to have a greater level of risk in our infrastructure. The older your infrastructure gets, the harder it is to maintain. Over time, without proper maintenance, patching, and care it’s more prone to security risks and vulnerabilities get exposed.

Lastly, as our business continued to grow, we had a scale and performance concern. In hindsight, we were right on the edge of our business to take off. Had we sat on it for too long it would have hindered our ability to keep up with our business demand. As our business continued to expand globally, our customer needs dictated that we find a solution that could grow and expand with their needs.

What Measurable Benefits Have You Seen?

The move enabled us to react to that and had we waited too long we would’ve had a real issue keeping up with capacity and demand. First and foremost, Connectria turned what would have been a very large capital expense into a controllable and consistent operational expense. Secondly, their operational support is very broad and incredibly economic with more hands-on-deck and extremely seasoned system admins and operational experts. Alternatively, I would have had to hire another team internally or to remotely manage our infrastructure.

“Connectria was able to identify ownership and responsibility, simplifying the overall process with an all in one monthly solution that provides infrastructure, operating systems, and operational support. Our infrastructure team can instead, focus on sharpening skills and finding areas of opportunity to modernize our platforms rather than simply keeping the lights on. Lastly, Connectria helps us with our quarterly patching activities, vulnerability scanning, and operating system.”

For a closer look, download the complete case study. As IBM users encounter support challenges or difficulty retaining in-house talent, changes need to be made and Connectria can help make them. Unlike other solutions, we have a unique approach with a native IBM i operational background. We have experts on both sides of the fence in IBM and private and public cloud infrastructure as well.

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