Originally founded in 1983 as one of the first specialty brake repair shops in the automotive industry, Brake Masters maintains a combination of 100-plus owner-operated and franchise locations across seven U.S. states.
- Refresh aging IT infrastructure on a tight budget with minimal disruption to ongoing operations
- Simplify and automate key IT administration and management across all stores
- Ensure connectivity as well as application performance
- Troubleshooting issues would require jumping back and forth between numerous applications
The Scale Computing Solution
- SC//Platform’s intuitive interface makes it easy for even non-technical employees to use
- Automated backup and snapshots ensure resilience and minimize system downtime
- Standard three-node SC//Platform cluster and eight virtual machines run both off-the- shelf and specialized applications
- Modular cluster architecture provides instant scalability to meet increased demand
- Centralized Management: At-a-glance visibility across the entire cluster enables greater administrative control
- Improved Efficiency: Automation capabilities have accelerated patching by 80% over legacy VMware system
- Effortless Deployment: Installed new infrastructure without any downtime or disruption
- Demonstrated Value: Estimated savings of 20% by going with Scale Computing rather than rebuilding a brand new VMware environment
Patching servers used to be a real chore as we had to temporarily shut down machines for the systems to be properly updated. With SC//Platform, these types of mind-numbing manual tasks are so much faster. You just click it and then you go have some coffee and come back and it's done.— Steve Waibel, Director of Information Technology, Brake Masters
We’ve been blown away by how fast we can clone a machine or perform a snapshot versus how long it used to take with VMware – the difference between the two is night and day.— Steve Waibel, Director of Information Technology, Brake Masters
A two-person IT staff decides the time is right to refresh the IT infrastructure of this fast-growing network of automotive repair shops. But with no dedicated IT experts on site at their corporate-owned storefronts, they needed a flexible, easy-to-manage solution that could be managed in a simple and unified manner.
The Challenge: Future-proof the corporate data center
Over the course of three decades, Brake Masters has grown from a single specialty automotive brake repair shop to a sprawling network of more than 100 corporate and franchise-owned stores operating across seven US states. With their corporate headquarters and data center located in Tucson and a one-gigabyte fiber line replicating data back and forth between the two sites, the IT team at Brake Masters understood that in order to help meet the company’s aggressive growth plans that it would need to modernize its supporting IT infrastructure.
At the helm of the Brake Masters IT team is Steve Waibel, a 25-year technology veteran who is responsible for designing and managing the company’s entire IT infrastructure stack. With stores stretching from El Paso, Texas to Sacramento, California, Waibel and his team recognized the growing challenge that came with market expansion, especially since their existing infrastructure solution was reaching its end of life.
As Waibel recalls, “Considering that our IT team is just me and another full-time administrator, it was essential that we could put systems in the stores that folks without any IT expertise could still make it work and would require very little intervention. We also wanted to make it easier to manage everything from our corporate location so our stores could focus all of their energy on helping customers. The other big challenge was ensuring system uptime – being able to stay up no matter what, as close to 100% as possible was absolutely essential to our storefronts”
The Solution: Hassle-free, always-on IT Infrastructure
In early 2022, Waibel made his case to the executive team as to why the time was right to modernize their aging infrastructure and got the green light to begin sourcing an updated solution. “At this point, our Dell hardware that was running VMware was between 10 and 12 years old and we had to decide whether it made more sense to simply refresh our system with a new proposed Dell solution using VMware or go in a new direction.”
Waibel had originally learned about Scale Computing years ago at a Spiceworks event and had experience using it since he had successfully deployed it at his previous company. To ensure he would get the most competitive bid, he requested proposals from both Dell/VMware and Scale Computing.
“While the performance capabilities of each solution were on par with each other, we found the Scale Computing bid more attractive since important capabilities like automated replication were included as part of their quote. So even though I had been using VMware for years and was already very familiar with it, we felt like we were getting a lot more value with the SC//Platform. Of course, there’s always a concern when migrating to a new system but after watching some demos to refamiliarize myself and the team, we realized it would be a lot easier to use than VMware.”
Waibel decided to deploy a three-node cluster with a backup appliance in their Tucson data center since their facility already had robust security controls in place. The cluster would be used to host a variety of off-the-shelf apps such as Microsoft SQL and the SAGE 100 accounting system, administrative tools like Windows domain controllers, print servers, as well as specialized cloud-based store management applications. “Deployment was fast and easy. The customer success team told us what was going to happen and that’s exactly what happened. And they were always following along in the portal so we didn’t have to worry about anything falling through the cracks.”
The Benefits: Faster, easier, and more cost-effective than VMware
While Waibel hasn’t benchmarked the results from his deployment, he has seen immediate gains in his department’s operational efficiency since migrating to Scale Computing. “Perhaps the most tangible improvement we’ve seen has come in our ability to accelerate the patching process, which I would say is 80% faster than how long it took with VMware. Managing our cluster is also much more efficient. Now, we can just log in to the SC//Platform and instantly see what's going on across the entire cluster without having to jump around and log into different systems.”
Scale Computing’s automated resilience also offers some additional peace of mind to Waibel and the rest of the team. “Fortunately we haven’t experienced any disasters or ransomware attacks yet which might have required us to roll back to a last known good state but we are confident that in the event of such a disruption, we’d be able to bring all our applications and data back in short order. One of the things that I was most blown away by is how quickly you can take a snapshot or clone versus how long it would take with VMware – the difference between the two is like night and day.”
Waibel also appreciates the high-touch and responsive customer support that comes standard with every Scale Computing deployment. “When something went wrong with our VMware solution, they would have to fix it via a remote session which meant we had to help them log in and would then just sit idly by watching the screen while they did their troubleshooting. In the rare instance that we have an issue now, the Scale Computing team can log directly into our cluster using the integrated support tunnel and fix the problem straight away.”
Ultimately, Waibel is pleased to be spending less time babysitting his infrastructure and having the bandwidth to focus on more strategic projects. “If you need to virtualize your environment and do the comparison between VMware and Scale Computing, you’ll find that Scale Computing solution is faster, easier to use and manage, and more cost-effective than VMware.”