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Benchmark Electronics Solves Distributed Enterprise IT Challenge with Simplified and Uniform IT Infrastructure from Scale Computing

Key Challenges

  • Disparate and ageing IT systems across global organization
  • Every site had its own IT infrastructure challenges because there was no centralized IT system to work across the entire distributed organization
  • Installing new systems was not streamlined leading to delays and errors for IT staff across its global locations

The Solution

  • Benchmark has already deployed two HC3 clusters with orders for another three in progress.
  • Future plans include installing the full Data Center in a Box from Scale Computing, APC Schneider Electric and Ingram in 27 locations globally.

Business Benefits of Implementing Scale Computing

  • Simple and easy management
  • Aimed at Distributed Enterprises
  • Reduced administration costs
  • Quick deployment
  • Easy to scale and replicate
  • Single point of contact for entire HC infrastructure
  • High availability and redundancy

Founded in Clute, Texas in 1979, Benchmark Electronics began life as a specialist assembler of low-volume, complex medical products. By 2000, revenues exceeded $1bn and a series of acquisitions had expanded the company’s presence throughout the U.S. as well as into Europe and Asia. The business now has 27 sites globally, sited in Thailand, China Malaysia, Singapore, Romania, The Netherlands, Mexico and the US. Benchmark Electronics’ primary data center is in Angleton, TX.  . A disaster recovery site is also located in Rochester, MN.

The company has grown to become a provider of innovative design engineering services, optimized global supply chain and logistics services, world-class manufacturing and after-market support to high technology OEM customers in the medical, defense, aerospace, industrial, semiconductor, computing and networking markets.

In 2017, more than 30 years after its birth in Texas, Benchmark Electronics relocated its corporate headquarters to Arizona.

IT Challenges

In tandem with the move to a new corporate headquarters, Benchmark decided it should rationalize the disparate systems spread across the company because of the acquisitions it had made over the years. Recently recruited Director of Infrastructure & Operations, Stacy Black, has been charged with finding a standardized IT system that could work across the entire distributed organization.

She was confronted by a mix of NAS and old legacy systems with no uniformity. Stacy Black, explains: “There are more than 150 people working in IT for the company around the globe but they were are not evenly distributed. Most of the IT team had lots of experience with some systems but not all of them, so there was a requirement to find a solution that was easy to roll out across the different locations and for people of varying levels of technical expertise to use. Managing a distributed enterprise is hard but we were keen to create a uniform build that could be implemented across different locations so there would be no need to reinvent the wheel each time.”

Making the hyperconvergence choice

Building on her previous experience with Scale Computing, Black suggested to Benchmark that the company should consider the merits of adopting a hyperconverged infrastructure solution to meet its requirements.

Hyperconvergence is an appliance-based approach that combines servers, storage and virtualization in a single vendor solution. Purchasing and support are done through a single vendor. The simplicity of the solution includes rapid-deployment, automated management capabilities and a single pane of management. Scaling out can be as simple as adding additional cluster nodes.

After evaluating hyperconverged technology and gaining a clearer understanding of the many benefits it can deliver, the IT team became enthusiastic advocates of the hyperconverged approach.

The Deployment

Benchmark Electronics opted for the HC3 solution from Scale Computing. It has since deployed two Scale clusters and is in the process of buying another three. Its success has led to Benchmark evaluating the new Data Center in a Box (DCIAB) solution from Scale Computing, APC Schneider Electric and Ingram Micro. The plan is to swap legacy equipment for the new box across all 27 sites globally. One solution, one design, with white glove delivery and support services, making it the ideal solution for a distributed enterprise.

The Benefits

By combining servers, virtualization and management into a single product, HC3 greatly simplifies maintenance and management. This provides significant savings in staff costs and time spent on the system. Because Scale Computing’s HC3 solution includes its own hypervisor, there is no requirement for VMware architects or administrators, delivering yet another saving for the company.

The scalability of the technology makes it easy for the IT team to add nodes in different locations around the company’s operations with minimum local configuration and customization required. The initial deployments of Scale solved Benchmark Electronics goal of achieving IT uniformity and automation.

Black explains: “The way our systems are built makes it difficult to scale. We have to get a new server, set it up, decide how important it is and how to stay in the budget. If we add a new customer project, we need to be able to accommodate it. Scale Computing allows me put another node in and see where I have capacity left. It gives me a pool of resources. The roll out of their DCIAB solution allows us to extend all of the benefits across the distributed enterprise.”

The Future is HC3

Black has been so impressed with the capabilities of HC3 that Benchmark  is working towards using it as the foundation for a Data Center in a Box (DCIAB), incorporating solutions from Scale, APC and Ingram Micro into a single box. The DCIAB can be delivered to the door of a company location and the staff there would only need to plug it in to get it up and running. There would be no requirement for trialing, configuration or set up.

“The intention is to be able to ship out a box that is ready to go and the people locally won’t have to know how to manage it or rack it,” she says. “We are creating a cookie cutting effect where it doesn’t matter who is there to install it – whether it’s a top technical person or someone with no technical ability – it just plugs in and it’s ready to go.”

DCIAB will also remove the human element that can lead to unwelcome differences in configuration or installation. “This way, no one can make it different,” Black says. “Humans can do things differently but this way, we know it will be consistent, manageable, and scalable and follows our strategic roadmap.”

Benchmark hopes to roll out DCIAB across its locations over the next two to three years.