Karl Strauss

"Now that HC3 is in, we don't have to think about the hardware anymore. We can focus on the applications that keep our business running effectively."

Jon Ruiz,
IT Manager

Food & Beverage Success Story: Karl Strauss Brewing Company

FAST FACTS:

Karl Strauss Brewing Company is a craft brewery based in San Diego, California with distribution throughout California. The company’s volume sales have consistently placed it in the Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies in the US with a 32% increase in beer sales over the last year in California. Karl Strauss also operates seven high volume brewery restaurants. To keep pace with the rapid company growth, the IT department was looking to virtualize their environment and consolidate their existing physical infrastructure with a solution that could provide both high availability and the ability to replicate off-site.

INTRODUCTION:

Karl Strauss Brewing Company maintained an aging environment with servers on the upper end anywhere from 5 to 10 years old running standard Windows-based applications such as Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint. This required constant attention that took the small IT staff away from the core applications running their business to focus on keeping the hardware up and running. The entire infrastructure needed to be refreshed and the company looked to virtualization to consolidate their servers as every new project required the purchase of a new server that John Ruiz, IT Manager from Karl Strauss estimated to be somewhere near $10,000 per project.

Karl Strauss required a solution that would provide high availability in the local environment as well as a DR component to protect the company in the event of a disaster. This functionality became top-of-mind as they witnessed fires and other disasters affecting companies around them. “It wasn’t just about High Availability. Karl Strauss needed to answer the question, ‘How can we access our data in the event of a disaster?'”

‘The brewery has undergone substantial growth since the company was founded in 1989 and the IT infrastructure to support that growth has been built in parallel. Continued growth in the environment was expected with the addition of a Tasting Room and one more brewery restaurant being added this year and another location each additional year for the next 5 years. In addition to the physical brewery restaurants, the sales territory for distribution had also expanded, so the company looked for a solution that could grow alongside. “I didn’t want to buy something that we were going to have to forklift out in 3 years. We needed a solution that could grow with the company and not hamper our growth,” John recalled.

Virtualization Environment

  • Highly Available VMs
  • Simple-to-use system
  • Scalable to match company growth plans
  • Replication
  • Affordable End-to-End Solution

CHALLENGE: MAINTAINING SIMPLICITY WITH A DO-IT-YOURSELF VIRTUALIZATION SOLUTION

To meet the requirements of High Availability and Scalability with Replication in their virtualization solution, John Ruiz, IT Manager at Karl Strauss looked at a typical Do-It-Yourself deployment of VMware or Hyper-V coupled with brand name host servers and a storage array as shared storage. The problem as John saw it was twofold:

  • First: The complexity introduced to maintain high availability for the virtual machines would have been overwhelming for his staff to implement and manage. This would require intimate knowledge of the hypervisor selected as well as the shared storage required for features like vMotion and failover.
  • Second: The pricing was significantly higher than expected for the production side deployment. This meant that budget left over for the disaster recovery planning limited the solution to a single piece of hardware that was only large enough to accommodate only the most critical workloads in the event of a disaster.

SOLUTION: HYPER-CONVERGED PLATFORM THAT INTEGRATES RESOURCES FOR SIMPLICITY

Karl Strauss was first introduced to Scale Computing’s HC3 system – a hyper-converged ‘datacenter-in-a-box’ – at the Midsize Enterprise Summit West conference where Scale won the 2012 XCellence Award for the Most Innovative Technology Vendor. John recalled his immediate reaction when he learned of the simplicity and elegance of HC3. “I knew right then that VMware and Hyper-V were both going on the backburner as I researched more about hyper-convergence.”

HC3 is a hyper-converged solution that combines servers, storage, and virtualization into a single, highly available, easy-to-use and scalable platform that removes the complexity of a typical virtualization deployment.

SIMPLE: The simplicity inherent in the HC3 system is evident in the setup through to the day-to-day management of the system. By converging the infrastructure in the virtualized environment, Karl Strauss now is able to manage their entire stack from a single user interface accessible through any standard browser that supports HTML 5. Having been created specifically for the IT generalist of a small to midsize company, ease-of-use is a core tenant of the HC3 design.

“HC3 is so intuitive that it didn’t require us to bring in a new engineer or pay for specialized training in virtualization or SAN administration,” said John Ruiz. “Our small team had the entire environment up and running VMs within 6 hours.”

Karl Strauss also made use of Scale’s partnership with Vision Solutions, utilizing HC3 Move powered by Double-Take to complete the physical to virtual (P2V) migration with near-zero downtime to their production servers. Karl Strauss was thrilled with the simplicity and flexibility of HC3 Move powered by Double-Take™ as it let them replicate the entirety of their physical servers to HC3 and keep the source and target in sync until the company was ready to make the final cutover during off peak hours.

“With HC3 Move the migration was clean and done in less than 5 minutes of downtime for the cutover,” said John.

AVAILABLE: Every virtual machine created on an HC3 system is automatically configured for high availability meaning that in the event of hardware failure, the VMs running on the failed node will failover to the remaining nodes in the cluster without manual intervention from the user. Compared to their physical environment where a failure meant extended downtime for critical applications, Karl Strauss could now rest assured that their applications are available for their employees.

“Now that HC3 is in, we don’t have to think about the hardware anymore. We can focus on the applications that keep our business running effectively,” said John Ruiz.

SCALABLE: HC3 allowed Karl Strauss to pay for what they needed on day one, knowing that the system would grow alongside their virtual environment and business needs in the future. With HC3, there are no upfront costs or licensing complexities. If they need to grow, they simply add more nodes. No rip and replace, no expensive complex systems, no headaches.

“Instead of doing a painful forklift upgrade every 3 years, I can simply add nodes as our company grows,” said John.

With no virtualization software to license, no external storage to buy and the hypervisor built in to the system, HC3 radically simplifies the infrastructure needed to keep critical applications running. The architecture and user interface of HC3 makes the deployment and management of a highly available and scalable infrastructure as easy to manage as a single server.

The pricing of HC3 was so affordable that Karl Strauss’ plans for implementing a secondary site for Disaster Recovery purposes once again became an option. Instead of replicating only the critical data to a smaller, less capable system, the company purchased a second 4-node HC3 system and used the native replication built into ICOS (Scale’s Intelligent Clustered Operating System) to replicate the data from the primary site to a secondary site.

Download Case Study
Location

San Diego, CA

Industry

Food & Beverage

Size

31 Employees
Main Brewery plus 7 Brewery Restaurants

IT Staff

4 Employee

Virtualized Servers

17

HC3 Solution

2 x 4 Node HC3 Systems

  • 256 GB RAM
  • 8 x Quad Core Intel CPUs
  • 16 x 1 GbE
  • 32 SATA drives


I didn’t want to buy something that we were going to have to forklift out in 3 years. We needed a solution that could grow with the company and not hamper our growth.” – Jon Ruiz, IT Manager

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