Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum

“Scale lived up to the promise of simplicity.”

Philippe Lemieux, IT Director

Nonprofit Success Story: Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum

Introduction

Running the IT services for two of Canada’s most respected museums is a very challenging job. Both the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, respectively, offer a unique look into the history, conflicts, and experiences that have shaped Canadian culture and society. The museums welcome more than one million visitors a year to their permanent collections and special exhibits featuring artifacts, specimens, works of art, written documents, and sound and visual recordings.

There are vital front- and back-of-the-house systems, from ticketing to human resources as well as finance, retail sales, facility rentals, and donor programs. However, over time, those critical systems became problematic as the museums’ IT team was plagued with slowdowns, down time, and complexity. The museum IT team urgently needed to migrate to a better solution.

That’s where Scale Computing came in, and successfully implemented their HC3 platform to help integrate and simplify the museums’ IT infrastructure with a hyperconverged appliance that provided high availability with unmatched simplicity.

Challenge

Philippe Lemieux, the IT director for both museums, had been facing challenges in the environment. “Our museums had multiple servers, hypervisors, and not everything worked all the time. Our SAN was not able to handle the large loads required. It was very problematic and unacceptable,” said Lemieux. “There was a lot of finger-pointing – some thought it was a challenge with our servers, others argued it was storage.”

The museum IT environment included a mix of Dell fiber channel SANs, Hitachi SANs, HP switches, physical servers, and more, resulting in an infrastructure that was complex. Even seemingly simple tasks such as creating a VM for testing purposes was a struggle, said Lemieux.

Ultimately the museums needed a more stable, integrated infrastructure to support the broad range of systems without downtime – and they needed it quickly. “Lemieux wanted the ability to rapidly transform the museum’s IT infrastructure and identified key objectives for the upgrade:”

  • Single ownership of the solution
  • High Availability
  • Snapshots and Replication
  • Ease of management and low learning curve for IT staff
  • Ability to clone VM for test environments
  • Performance

Initially Lemieux was inclined to avoid a converged/hyperconverged solution out of concerns for scalability. After discovering Scale Computing’s HC3 system, he discovered it provided the hypervisor layer, storage, compute, disaster recovery, replication, cloning and more – in a single comprehensive system.

Scale Computing’s HC3 virtualization platform is a complete ‘data center in a box’ with server, storage and virtualization integrated into a single appliance to deliver simplicity, availability and scalability at a fraction of the cost. HC3 products make the deployment and management of a highly available and scalable infrastructure as easy to manage as a single server.

As Lemieux said, HC3 offers “…everything but the kitchen sink.” Because HC3 integrates the hypervisor, requires no virtualization software to license, and no external storage, the museum’s infrastructure could be dramatically simplified while keeping applications running reliably. Every virtual machine created on an HC3 system is automatically set for high availability, so even in the event of hardware failure the VMs will failover to the remaining nodes in the cluster. And, HC3’s invisible automation makes the deployment and management of the entire environment remarkably easier to manage than the museum’s prior infrastructure.

“We wanted less complexity,” admitted Lemieux. “We wanted a solution that was dead simple and we were interested in Scale Computing – regardless of whether they were Windows or Linux-based.”

Solution

“Scale lived up to the promise of simplicity,” said Lemieux. Once the HC3 systems were deployed, the days of slowdowns and downtimes were gone at both museums. “Newly migrated VMs were noticeably faster and everything from report generation to database backup jobs took less time.

“Now that we have integrated all our systems, we can finally manage, plan and grow,” said Lemieux. Because the infrastructure is so simple, it will be easy to add new HC3 nodes to the current environment to manage growing pains. If storage out-paces the compute, add on a storage only node. If compute resource demands eclipse the storage growth, simply add a node with higher compute resources. With HC3, there is no downtime to adding nodes into the cluster. In fact, running VMs see an immediate performance improvement as they now have additional spindles to make use of through the wide-striping of new writes.

Thanks to Scale Computing the Museums are now able to plan for future growth.

Download Case Study

Location

Quebec and Ontario

Industry

Not for Profit

Size

2 Locations

IT Staff

10 Full Time Employees

Virtualized Servers

100

Operating Systems

Windows Server 2008-2012 and Ubuntu Server 14.04.3 LTS

Applications

Financial, Human Resources, Box Office/Ticketing, Museum Shops, Facility Rentals, Donor Programs

HC3 Solutions

6 x HC4000 3 x HC2000


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