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Carrs Tool Steels deployed Scale Computing for improved efficiency, scalability, and ease of use

Background:

As an SME in a competitive industry, an up-to-date IT infrastructure is vital to Carrs Tool Steels operations, to support its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and enable the business to deliver high value products that match customer requirements, quickly and with ease. 

Key Challenges:

  • The existing standalone, non-virtualised servers often operated multiple functions which carried the risk of taking down the whole network.
  • A small in-house IT team meant the company needed a solution that would be easy to manage to save time, but that was also resilient and met the business’ feature requirements such as supporting the ERP system.
  • The solution needed to be easily scalable and future proof

Scale Computing Solution:

Carrs Tool Steels deployed Scale Computing’s HC3 platform to automate the management of its IT environment.

Key applications running on Scale Computing’s HC3 platform: 

  • Priority ERP 
  • File and print services
  • Remote Desktop Services
  • Anti-Virus
  • Active Directory 

Business benefits:

  • Improved performance 
  • Ease of use – the ability to set up more (virtual) servers quickly, as needed
  • Snapshot data replication for improved business continuity
  • Reduced hardware management time 
  • Improved resilience and reduced risk of network downtime for maintenance 
  • No additional licensing fees, training or certification needed 

Carrs Tool Steels - Supplying high value tool steel since 1902 

Founded in 1902, Carrs Tool Steels is an established and well regarded high-value tool steel supplier and stockholder based in the Midlands, UK. As an SME in a competitive landscape, IT is a vital component of the business’ success, and Carrs Tool Steels runs a highly efficient Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system which helps differentiate it from its competitors.

With high-value materials, customers need to be sure the product meets their specification. Carrs Tool Steels uses the Priority ERP system to offer accurate, fast, and easy to understand information, to help precisely meet customer requirements. The Priority system means they are able to record, trace, and search the exact dimensions of every single piece of stock in the warehouse at any given time, ensuring customers receive the closest match to their requirements within seconds.

Innovation and investment in customer service have always been the main drivers in Carrs Tool Steels’ business philosophy, and ensuring they have the right IT tools to deliver on this philosophy is of paramount importance to the team.

IT Challenges

As a provider of high value steel products, it was fundamental to Carrs Tool Steels that it had a robust IT system in place that could meet customer demands.  IT plays a major role in the daily business operations, so when the risk that the legacy servers could stop business operations became too high, the company decided to look for a more resilient platform for its systems. 

Carrs Tool Steels recognised that it needed a consolidated solution, such as hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), which could improve performance and reduce the risk of downtime, which it faced with its legacy system, all the while saving time on hardware management. 

Alongside this, the company wanted to invest in a platform that offered additional capabilities that they did not already have, including replication for enhanced disaster recovery, all at a competitive price point.

Mark Mullaly, Systems Manager at Carrs Tool Steels, commented, “IT is an integral part of what differentiates our business, because the ERP system allows us to answer our customers’ requirements with more accuracy, and a lot quicker, than our competitors can.”

Researching the market

Carrs Tool Steels researched the options it had in the market and considered other HCI vendors, however, it found that, apart from Scale Computing, the solutions were not designed for SMEs, as they had convoluted processes and required more time and money to operate. Scale Computing offered the best value for money, and after a couple of site visits and further research, Carrs Tool Steels decided to work with Scale Computing’s partner Belvoir Valley Solutions (BVS) and installed an HC3 cluster comprising of three nodes in total.

Mullaly noted, “After talking with other vendors, we soon realised they didn’t really understand what the ‘S’ in SME meant and what we, as a small rather than medium sized enterprise, needed.  After our very first discussion with Scale Computing we could see that they understood our business model and exactly what we were trying to achieve. Ultimately, this was what sold us on Scale Computing above the others we evaluated.”

He continues, “Once we decided to deploy a hyperconverged solution, we looked at reports that analysed the top technology suppliers and this is where we pulled our shortlist of vendors from. After further research we chose Scale Computing’s solution because we felt they understood our needs and they were the only vendor that ticked all the boxes, from functionality to price point.” 

Deployment

After seeing first-hand how the platform worked, Carrs Tool Steels decided to purchase the HC3 solution. Mullaly said, “Everything with Scale Computing was so simple, and the experience was seamless with both BVS and Scale Computing on hand to assist. We benefited from a turnkey approach, with BVS installing a new rack with power supplies, as well as fitting all the wiring that was then simply plugged into our existing network switches. With any niggles we have experienced to date, Scale Computing’s support team has been quick to respond and resolve them.”

Simon Coffey, Managing Director at Belvoir Valley Solutions commented, “Carrs Tool Steels needed a solution that could improve the performance of its critical manufacturing systems, such as the ERP application, which was easy to use and at the right price point. With this in mind, we immediately knew a hyperconverged platform would be the ideal fit. We were keen to ensure the Carrs Tool Steels solution that was installed could in the future accommodate any Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) developments; the scalability of the HC3 platform provides this capability. Additionally, for SMEs like Carrs Tool Steels, price point is usually a major concern when upgrading the entire infrastructure, so the HC3 platform was highly recommended in this area too - it offered all the requirements but at a competitive price for the business.”

Key benefits

The HC3 platform integrates storage, compute, and virtualisation layers of infrastructure into a single solution architecture. The technology is uniquely designed to eliminate complexity from the modern data centre, providing Carrs Tool Steels with the required simplicity and ease of use. In addition, the product requires no additional licensing fees or certification. The simplicity of the solution includes rapid-deployment, automated management capabilities, and a single pane of management.

Mullaly commented, “Since deploying Scale Computing our systems run much faster. It’s certainly a lot more user-friendly in terms of the development of new features, because now it’s much easier to spin up a test server and try out new software. The speed at which I can now action tasks means I can move forward with developing and improving our ERP system, which is more valuable to the business than managing the hardware.”

Simplicity, speed and scalability

Mullaly commented, ““We needed a platform that would support our Priority ERP system and improve performance with very little management time, and Scale Computing’s solution does exactly that. Should we need to test a new system capability, or carry out a ‘what-if’ scenario without interfering with business operations,  with Scale Computing it’s an absolute doddle to take a snapshot and spin up a new server. From the point of view of moving IT forward within the business, it is a complete step change compared to what we had before.” 

Mullaly concluded, “Right now we have one three node cluster on the HC3 Platform, and it is running six VMs. In the future we are looking to run up to 8-10 VMs. This ability to scale-out is part of the reason that we chose Scale Computing, because it future-proofs the business.”