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Fresh produce distributor MWW sets up private cloud with VSPEX solution

Matthew Finnegan | June 7, 2013
'Cloud-in-a-box' solution chosen over Dell and HP to support extensive roll out of Microsoft NAV ERP system.

Gill began speaking to "box-shifter" distributors such as Misco and Insight as part of a three month investigation into the introduction of new infrastructure, with HP initially at the top of a list of vendors to provide new servers and SANs. However a discussion with Cisco and EMC reseller partner Synapse 360, led to the decision to implement the VSPEX package, encompasing EMC and Cisco hardware with VMware virtualisation, as an off-the-shelf solution.

The reseller agreed to do all the work around the provision of a fully integrated system, and a contract was signed off by the MWW board within a week, by the end of June 2012. Two EMC SANs and the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers arrived within a few weeks, and Synapse 360 had the system configured and operational by August.

"If I had known about the likes of Synapse and VSPEX in the first place, and realised the amount of pain it saved, I would have gone to them straight away," Gill said.

The company briefly looked at implementing a Dell solution, but were put off by past experiences amongst IT staff, and considered the vendor to be more suited to providing desktops in other parts of its business, with question marks over the "poor build quality" of the vendor's server hardware..

"Dell we discounted because my IT department have an opinion on their status in the market regarding quality: they are brilliant for desktops and laptops, but not necessarily for back office infrastructure."

"We wanted something that was more enterprise based, where Cisco and EMC are leaders. We wanted the best of the best rather than what we consider 'middle of the road', or not enterprise level. In fact we were wary of the Cisco and EMC types because we thought we couldn't afford them."

Gill was surprised to find that the VSPEX system came in under the budget for the procurement, while a comparative HP setup with lower spec was approximately 20 percent over the budget when bought through distribution.

MWW is now running seven UCS servers with 2GHz twin eight core processors and 64GB of RAM, with the capacity to run up to 100 VMs. This is in addition to the remaining four HP servers, and two new HP servers for replication, making a total of 13 currently in use, alongside two EMC SANs.

At the same time as the hardware overhaul in June last year, MWW has been introducing new software applications, including licence refreshes for its Office suite and Sharepoint 2010, running on the firm's intranet for collaboration. There is also an Exchange email server file print systems, legacy systems such as the SAGE Line 100 financial system, and SQL server for the backend databases.


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