Planning, Production and Produce


Structured and Nutanix help a regional produce and grocery distributor get a fresh hold on growth with modernized, streamlined data center technology and a carefully cultivated Active Directory environment.

Outdated technology, infrastructure complexity, and the constant threat of downtime withers performance and potential at even the most innovative and flourishing businesses.

Unplanned downtime in the data center is never a good pairing with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and order processing software. More often than not, operational backlogs, lost employee productivity, and the threat of critical data loss turn small issues into large ones in a hurry.

This was the situation recently facing a Pacific Northwest-based fresh produce and grocery distributor. Their outdated infrastructure and mounting IT vulnerabilities threatened to hamper their 24/7 operational environment, made more complex by the highly perishable nature of the fresh produce and food items they routinely deliver to national grocery chains, independent grocery stores, restaurants and even schools.

As uncertainties about data center stability mounted, this longtime Structured customer decided it was time to get their IT environment to a state as fresh and healthy as their produce.

Nutanix: The pick of the crop

Like many multigenerational companies where enterprise IT has needed to grow alongside the business it supports, the old infrastructure had a heterogeneous mix of devices and operating systems. But it also had a strong IT manager and supportive business decision makers with a clear picture of their ideal end state. They just needed a little help pruning the options.

Because the customer had an end goal in mind, and required minimal downtime with the implementation of any new solution, it was up to Structured to present an appropriate array of options for IT leadership to review, select, and present to business management. After pragmatic review and informative consultation, Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) was chosen as the best fit for their virtualized operating environment.

The benefits of Nutanix were clear. To begin, the customer could keep using its preferred VMware hypervisor in the new environment, reducing the need for additional capital. Migrating virtual machines (VMs) also is meant to be a fairly straightforward process in a Nutanix HCI environment. Nutanix also was compatible with new flash storage requirements, ensuring a stable single hardware stack. Perhaps best, with Nutanix in the data center, this grocery distributor has far greater scalability options than before. They can easily add nodes without overprovisioning or disrupting critical business systems with extended downtime.

from root cause to clean slate

Due to the client’s sensitivity to operational downtime, the project was purposefully designed as a low-impact migration. The initial setup and configuration of the Nutanix all-flash cluster was a straightforward success, as were the initial VM migrations. After that, however, the Active Directory (AD) environment presented some significant impediments to progress. This is where mutual trust, clear communication, and some good old fashioned troubleshooting pushed the implementation along.

Partway through the project, Structured’s engineers encountered an issue where AD would not authenticate once a second AD server was migrated. Upon deeper investigation and root cause analysis, several compounding issues in the AD environment seemed to be causing the trouble. To right the environment, Structured’s engineers made several key adjustments, including:

  • DNS cleanup and reconfiguration
  • Upgrading AD’s operational state to Distributed File System (DFS) mode
  • Coordinating firewall policy changes to allow DNS traffic

Once the additional configuration work and troubleshooting wrapped up, the customer found that their DNS issues in AD were resolved. This allowed continuation and completion of the domain controller migration to Nutanix HCI, speeding up shared access and greatly simplifying ongoing management.

Ultimately, the customer’s Active Directory environment was cleaned up, upgraded, and streamlined, leading to an improved user experience and reduction in administrative overhead.

Structured Senior Systems Engineer Abe Covello
Results

As hoped, the Nutanix HCI solution displayed increased performance and resiliency. Consolidating disparate systems into a single hardware stack resulted in decreased complexity and faster data throughput with the addition of flash storage. Shortly after implementation, the customer also reported increased AD performance and reliability.

Conclusion

Building and maintaining data center infrastructure to keep up with a growing business is never easy. But when an old design was falling far short of present needs, this customer knew they needed to make a calculated leap. With Structured and Nutanix by their side, this grocery distributor was able to cultivate meaningful change that will keep their infrastructure fresh for years to come.

Wondering whether a carefully planned data center refresh or migration could help your company flourish in a competitive climate? Contact your Structured account manager or email info@structured.com today!