Surviving Fire and Flood: A Juniper Preserve Case Study


Structured works with Juniper Preserve to protect operations and establish an IT architecture for bouncing back faster after disaster.

“Fire” was the word on everyone’s mind at the beautiful Juniper Preserve, a premier resort community in remote Central Oregon. Nestled amidst an ancient juniper forest and flanked by the Cascade Mountains, the possibility of destructive wildfire there is very, very real.

Those who live and work in the arid, rugged West are all too familiar with summer wildfires and the damage they can cause. At Juniper Preserve, the dreaded prospect of majestic evergreens lighting up like torches and consuming the entire community was enough to spark some serious disaster recovery (DR) concerns among the resort’s IT team. The resort’s aging infrastructure also introduced significant and worrying risk to its operations.

Acting out of a keen sense of urgency and responsibility, Juniper Preserve contacted Structured to begin discussing DR, connectivity and infrastructure planning. The resort’s IT manager and other staff had worked with Structured at a previous company, so when the time came to contact a solution provider, Structured was the immediate choice.

The Existing terrain

Upon meeting with Juniper Preserve’s IT staff, Structured engineers learned that rapidly aging server and network hardware were causing stress, system downtime and application unavailability. Several business-critical systems still ran on physical servers, which were unreliable and out of capacity. The two Microsoft Hyper-V hosts in use were not clustered, meaning that any issues had the potential to bring down several VMs at once (and often did). Meanwhile, an older mixed switching and wireless environment created operational challenges and difficulty in troubleshooting network issues.

And, of course, there existed the menace of fire.

Juniper Preserve lacked strong data protection and DR infrastructure, leaving them incredibly vulnerable to data loss and disruptions from natural disasters, inadvertent human error, and malicious criminal activity.

In a nutshell, Juniper Preserve was situated quite far from the highly available, secure, and easy-to-manage infrastructure that they wanted, deserved, and needed to serve the thousands of year-round residents and short-term guests seeking sanctuary and wellness-themed adventures there.

charting a course

Because so much of this project required starting from scratch, the teams at Juniper Preserve and Structured had a lot of directional flexibility. Working together, they first had to chart a course for the long run. From this starting point, Structured presented a host of options for cloud-based and on-prem infrastructure, running through the pros and cons of each.

Ultimately, a hybrid mix of on-premises compute and storage with cloud-based backup and DR – all with a five-year lifecycle — offered the best blend of affordability, reliability and data protection for Juniper Preserve.

“After careful consideration and planning, Juniper Preserve settled on a stable and sustainable hybrid architecture for their long-term compute, storage and data protection requirements,” said Abe Covello, a senior systems engineer at Structured who was deeply involved in this project. “This new infrastructure will be much easier for the team to manage day-to-day and makes solid financial sense for the larger organization,” he added.

the journey

Dell EMC PowerEdge R650 servers and Dell EMC Unity storage were chosen for the on-premises compute and storage infrastructure. The Dell Unity 380F platform was chosen for its:

  • all-flash nature,
  • high performance capabilities, and
  • ease of expansion.

In addition, the Unity 380F allows for direct-connected Fibre Channel, leveraging the benefits of Fibre Channel’s increased throughput and higher data transfer efficiency without needing Fibre-Channel switching.

Juniper Networks (no connection to Juniper Preserve) earned the wired and wireless business. Juniper, and its Mist AI platform, delivers:

  • strong performance,
  • operational simplicity, and
  • deep visibility from its core switches to the access points at the network edge, providing much-needed ease-of-use and resilience across the network.

Specifically, Juniper EX4100 switches were installed for the resort’s access layer switching while a pair of EX4600 switches were picked for their core functionality. This robust, homogenous environment will be much easier for network administrators on the IT team to manage while providing employees, residents, and guests with a better user experience.

Palo Alto Networks earned its spot as the primary security vendor. Juniper Preserve elected to standardize on the PA-450 next-generation firewall (NGFW). The device’s capabilities for machine-learning, Zero Trust enforcement, and threat prevention — coupled with its threat analysis and application-level visibility — made it an easy choice for the customer. Plus, the IT team at Juniper Preserve was already familiar with the company’s market-leading NGFWs.

With decisions about on-premises infrastructure squared away, the team turned to cloud-delivered services for data protection and recoverability. Both Backup as a Service (BaaS) and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) from Expedient were good places to continue the conversation.

Cloud-delivered backup and disaster recovery services presented more affordability, convenience and manageability compared to on-premises infrastructure.

Due to the cost savings, Juniper Preserve was able to implement a more complete DRaaS solution, instead of strictly BaaS. Aided by the Expedient team’s ongoing support, and underpinned by market leading data protection technology from Cohesity, Juniper Preserve could finally achieve the highly available, redundant, resilient and flexible backup and recovery infrastructure it had long desired.

As an additional benefit, by choosing cloud-based service subscriptions, Juniper Preserve’s small IT staff now could focus on other objectives as the backup solution would be completely managed by Expedient, thus freeing some scarce extra hours.

The last piece of the plan centered on connectivity. Structured worked with Lumen, Juniper Preserve’s existing circuit provider, to install a new circuit and the accompanying fiber line. The goal was to increase bandwidth for the new cloud services, while also providing a redundant ISP to ensure that an outage would not automatically disable internet connectivity.

financing

Upon installation of the circuit and fiber, it was observed that Juniper Preserve would not save much on its monthly bill. To help amend this, Structured worked with Lumen to not only take over billing, but to sign a 5-year contract for dedicated internet access and significantly lower the resort’s monthly connectivity charge. This plan worked well. So well, in fact, Structured also helped Juniper Preserve with a five-year capital lease to finance the entire purchase, freeing up cash flow and paving the way for the entire project to proceed.

Orders for the on-premises gear and the cloud services were placed. In good time, all of the on-premises gear from Dell, Juniper and Palo Alto networks arrived and was installed with no issues, and the rest of the project was on track.

Everything was going according to plan. Until…

DISASTER STRIKES: FIRE AND FLOOD

Normally, when a business plans in case of disaster, they never expect it to happen so soon.

In late April 2023, one week before the Expedient implementation, a fire crackled in an outdoor fireplace. That fateful spring day, that fire accidentally spread from the fireplace into the clubhouse, igniting a significant structure fire that the building’s sprinkler system and the local fire department thoroughly doused. As a result, not only did Juniper Preserve need to contend with smoke damage to its sensitive new IT gear, but also at least a foot of flooding from the sprinkler system’s and the fire department’s structure-saving actions.

Understanding that time was of the absolute essence, Structured engineers responded shortly after the fire to assess the damage. Finding the smoke-damaged equipment still operational, all intact server, storage and switching infrastructure was transferred to another building, re-racked, and configured so that Juniper Preserve would lose no essential function. From there, Structured assisted in creating a document that would help the resort’s insurance firm speed up the process of proper equipment replacement.

RESULTS

Upon implementation, Juniper Preserve realized resounding success in its server and storage replacement. The new infrastructure immediately improved performance, lowering peak storage access latency by over 50% and boosting the capability for 32x more storage throughput and 20x more network throughput thanks to implementation of Fibre Channel and 10Gbps networking.

In addition, the implementation of all-flash storage, with its high input/output operations per second (IOPS) capability, has allowed Juniper Preserve to begin looking into technologies like desktop virtualization for improved user experience. The infrastructure’s high availability has also freed up Juniper Preserve’s IT department to focus on new projects that promote the business, instead of worrying about the health and performance of the legacy system. This included reliable DRaaS backups capable of bringing VMs to the cloud and infrastructure across the enterprise that is aligned with today’s best practices.

Even as the clubhouse underwent extensive restoration and remodeling, staff at Juniper Preserve indicated to Structured that infrastructure installation has been smooth and successful. Definitely one less thing to worry about. In particular, their immediate impressions were heavily informed by the Juniper/Mist platform’s ease of use, specifically the Mist portal and the compelling features of Marvis, the AI-driven virtual network assistant tool that provides IT staff with helpful automation and deep insight to identify and correct network problems in real time.

“Structured designed and deployed a highly redundant and resilient network upgrade for Juniper Preserve using Juniper Networks and the Mist Wired Assurance platform,” said Jed Rabe, a senior wireless engineeer with Structured who was a key participant in the project. “The upgrade provided greater bandwidth, increased performance, and an integrated way to monitor and manage both the wired and wireless infrastructure for the long term,” he added.

CONCLUSION

Disaster can strike at any time, resulting in widespread consequences for not only the physical infrastructure but also in how businesses interact with customers. For a resort that must provide top-notch service to dozens or hundreds of guests and visitors at a time, every second the staff contends with a system failure is one second too many. Equipment is relatively easy to replace, reputational damage is much harder to fix.

That’s why a responsive, proactive IT partner is not a should-have, but a must-have. And when it comes to must-haves, Structured is essential.


Do you need to protect data and bring stability and resilience to your mission-critical IT environment? If so, contact your Structured account manager or email info@structured.com today.

ABOUT JUNIPER PRESERVE

Juniper Preserve is a gathering place, a hub, and a sanctuary in the mystic juniper forest of Central Oregon. Set on 640 acres amidst Central Oregon’s 1,000-year-old juniper forest and surrounded by the Cascade Mountain Range, Juniper Preserve has received recognition as the premier resort community in the West and was first to offer a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and Tom Fazio Championship Golf Course side-by-side. Resort amenities include multiple restaurants, world-class clubhouse, the Pronghorn Golf Academy, the newly updated Juniper Spa, fitness center and classes, outdoor heated pools with water slide and hot tubs, as well as customized adventures to take advantage of our proximity to Central Oregon’s many outdoor activities, cultural interests, and culinary and craft beverage experiences.

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