Case Study: JTC Grows its Cloud Services Core through Trust and Teamwork

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Trust, teamwork, and technology form the core of Jewell Technical Consulting, Inc. (JTC) and its partnership with Leaseweb USA, a leading hosting and cloud services company whose offerings include Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions. JTC, a company providing private cloud services to North Virginia and D.C. metro businesses, was originally utilizing another hosting facility 20 miles way from its Manassas, Virginia headquarters. But as JTC grew, the two- to three-hour round trips to and from headquarters and the data center became more frequent and costly. In response, JTC looked for a better solution and visited a couple of potential vendors in Manassas. Between 2010 and 2011, JTC hired Leaseweb USA to serve its data center infrastructure.

John Jewell, president and CEO of JTC, said:

“Leaseweb USA, a stone’s throw away, attracted us because of its ability to deliver and understand our needs, in addition to providing very good tools that we use daily.”

Jewell knows that new and established customers want all the compute, storage, and networking services on-demand and seamlessly, including data — a formidable challenge. Jewell added:

“A data center needs to perform well. It must be reliable and understand its customers. We have clients that run point of sale systems on our cloud, even if it is a Saturday. They need access. Downtime is not an option.”

Over the years, Leaseweb USA has shown to be trustworthy. Kristen West, an executive vice president overseeing JTC operations stated that Leaseweb USA has always been so responsive to their needs, even noting one time their staff stopped what they were doing to help JTC with getting additional cables so they could get everything racked up faster.

While Jewell and West commended their Leaseweb USA rep, Richard Copeland, and his help, a question remained. Could Leaseweb USA handle a major JTC technical upgrade and migration project while still acting as a team player? This last year JTC discovered Leaseweb USA’s mettle.

Growing Pains Requires JTC Upgrade Its Entire Infrastructure

In 2019, JTC faced major storage and technical challenges. Its customer base grew rapidly, and JTC needed to upscale. JTC utilized Dell’s EqualLogic storage area network (SAN) technology. SAN describes a cluster of shared storage devices connected by a high-speed network. Servers connect this SAN architecture to others that can be accessed by users. The SAN Data Architecture provides more storage and capacity to run powerful applications; however, it requires costly upgrades.

JTC found its SAN technology expensive. About every five years, JTC needed to purchase a new SAN, at a total between $40,000 to $50,000, for the SAN alone, not including additional infrastructure required to keep up with its customers’ hunger for data storage. West observed that JTC customers required accommodation for their increasingly voluminous data, with the same increased performance, putting a significant load the SAN technology couldn’t keep up with. JTC engineers investigated an alternative technology, which would meet the current needs and allow additional growth for many years to come: hyperconvergence integration, or HCI.

JTC looked at Microsoft’s HCI solution, which provided “high availability with IOPS in excess of 1,000,000,” said John Jewell. While HCI has been around for the last ten years, it has become more cost-effective and easier to use and implement.

Hyperconvergence leverages hardware and software virtualization engineering to create an IT infrastructure combining storage, compute, and network into a single system. HCI’s flexibility and low cost attracted JTC.

The company found that with the “right equipment and design, it could save a tremendous amount of money and increase its high availability using HCI, almost doubling its storage space without having to invest in a new SAN,” noted Jewell. But JTC would need to overhaul its entire infrastructure, containing 75 servers and virtual machines at a newer Leaseweb USA data center. JTC turned to Leaseweb USA for help.

Teamwork Needed to Migrate and Upgrade JTC’s Data Infrastructure

Jewell predicted an upgrade to HCI “would keep prices competitive and speed and performance above average.” However, JTC’s transition to its fifth-generation cloud, from SAN to HCI, needed to be carefully planned and executed. With so many companies reliant on JTC’s cloud infrastructure, not only the new data center technology needed to work but also both old and new technologies had to run during the conversion. West explained:

“The migration happens to be at the end of the year when clients are busy closing their books and starting off the new year. If there is any time of the year that would be horrible for downtime, it would be now, between ending one year and beginning another.”

JTC had to work with Leaseweb USA and involve it in planning and implementation to make the change from SAN to HCI a success.

Team Synergy Found

Leaseweb USA proved a valuable partner to JTC throughout its data center modernization. John Jewell said that from day one of the migration planning, Leaseweb USA got involved. Copeland guided JTC about where to put a new rack location for the equipment and sent an engineer to review the JTC migration plan, according to West. This Leaseweb USA engineer became a “valuable second set of eyes, by suggesting easier data migration processes and thoroughly reviewing JTC’s entire plan.”

In sum, Leaseweb USA provided JTC:

  • A User-Friendly Dashboard: the ability to monitor peak times and be notified of any issues or downtime experiences.
  • An Infrastructure Management Team: a dedicated team ensuring no downtime when taking on this kind of large project.
  • A One-Stop Shop: direct and prompt communication with representatives, getting issues resolved as fast as possible.

JTC Migration and Upgrade Project Progresses

JTC obtained all the equipment and staged it to get it ready to rack and stack at Leaseweb USA’s data center. Both JTC and Leaseweb USA were involved in this migration process, piping data between the legacy and new data center Jewell said:

“Both teams brought up a couple of servers over the New Year’s holiday and were ready to start the heavy migration over the first two to three weeks of January. Planning and delivering not only a major hardware upgrade but also a data center migration with zero downtime has only been possible because of the ability of the JTC and Leaseweb USA teams to work together as one. We have enormous trust in Leaseweb USA’s commitment and guidance to help move our business to the next level.”

Absolute Growth with a Data Center IaaS

What does JTC’s trust, teamwork, and technology mean for its IaaS business? “Growth. Absolute growth,” said Jewell.

“Leaseweb USA has already seen the growth within JTC as it has gone from one full rack to two full racks. JTC can double its clientele now and hopes to set up another hardware rack at Leaseweb USA, next year.”

Jewell’s proposition may seem bold, given that competition in the IaaS space is fierce; however, JTC owns and operates cloud infrastructure.

Big familiar players like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS), or even the middlemen companies in between just do not have the same cloud resources and assurance of privacy. While JTC has certification and is a partner with Microsoft with education in AWS, it sells customers and IT directors on JTC services. JTC says to its clients, “Try calling Microsoft or AWS when you need help. Here, our techs stand with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.” The private cloud, offered by JTC with Leaseweb USA’s data center IaaS, blows the public cloud away with trust, teamwork, and technology.

Individual relationships between customer and vendor, like JTC and Leaseweb USA, should not be underestimated. As Jewell put it, “good customer service makes a huge difference, and without it, the customer gets stuck in the middle suffering from the problem.”

“Consider the situation where a customer accidently deletes some critical information from the cloud or loses a bunch of information,” said Jewell. Calling Microsoft or AWS support will put you through to, perhaps eight different people before getting to someone who knows the deleted information is somewhere. “Sure, this person will get data back from the public cloud, but it will not be easy,” noted Jewell. JTC retrieves that data back quickly and seamlessly.

JTC’s emphasis and follow through on team and trust explains why it has stayed with Leaseweb USA, for close to ten years. Yes, JTC has not always been sure when other data centers have popped up and made attractive offers. But Jewell said:

“When we let Richard at Leaseweb USA know of our plans to update and migrate JTC infrastructure, he quickly reacted and asked us what he could do to help. We communicated the help we needed, and Leaseweb USA delivered. We turned out to be happy.”

The trust, teamwork, and technical skills shared between JTC and Leaseweb USA foretell more successful projects to come for JTC.

Image used under license from Shutterstock.com

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