Fast Facts: Based out of Nottingham, Merida Bicycles Ltd. are an importer and retailer of bicycles and tools from the Far East. The vast majority of items are sourced from Taiwan’s second largest cycle brand, Merida Industry Ltd. Supported by an IT staff of one, the company relies heavily on the availability of its IT infrastructure to maintain operations.
With a handful of Microsoft-based servers approaching the end of their useful life, Merida Bicycles was looking to bring high availability to its IT infrastructure. “We had machines that were five and six years old and we wanted to replace our infrastructure with the best available technology on the market,” said Bill Swinscoe, IT Manager at Merida Bicycles.
Despite the high availability promised from virtualisation, the complexity involved in implementing such a solution would demand a tremendous amount of resources to setup and support. “Larger companies with bigger IT departments might have the expertise in-house, but deploying Hyper-V would have been a bit beyond our capabilities as a small business,” recalled Swinscoe.
As an IT generalist, Swinscoe did not have the time or resources to take on a project of this magnitude. “It [Hyper-V] was much more involved technically than I had ever expected,” continued Swinscoe.
Not only was the proposed solution technically involved, the price of acquiring and implementing the solution caused Merida to hesitate in their overall plans for virtualisation. According to Swinscoe, “For a small business like ours, many would have even considered not virtualising.” A non-virtualised environment would consequently lessen the high availability requirement of the IT environment.
Merida was introduced to Scale Computing’s HC3, a ‘datacentre-in-a-box’ that seamlessly integrates servers, storage and virtualisation in one easy-to-use system. With no virtualisation software to license, no external storage to buy and the hypervisor already integrated, HC3 lowers out of pocket costs and radically simplifies the infrastructure needed to keep applications running. HC3 makes the deployment and management of a highly available and scalable infrastructure as easy to manage as a single server.
According to Swinscoe, “We were sold on just how easy it was to manage. With the HC3 solution, you don’t need a lot of overqualified IT people on staff or virtualisation experts to manage it.” HC3 was built with the availability of a virtualised server and SAN, the scalability of a clustered infrastructure and the simplicity of a single server. By deploying HC3, Merida was able to realise the benefits of a fully virtualised environment without the complexity that existed in combining Microsoft’s Hyper-V solution with Dell servers – all at a fraction of the cost.
Starting at under £19,500, HC3 is ideal for the first-time virtualisers and those that have avoided virtualising due to the costs and complexities of the implementation and management. While the ease-of-use made the system manageable by Merida’s IT staff, the pricing made it affordable to the business.
“It is safe to say that we could have spent a lot more money and not have been as technically sound as we are now,” said Swinscoe. “We realised that the other solutions would have been quite a bit more expensive. The hardware and software required for the traditional solutions would have been half as much or twice as much again as the HC3 solution,” he continued.
When asked how the platform might affect the future of the small business IT infrastructure, Swinscoe replied, “HC3 has a massive advantage over traditional virtualisation alternatives. It has all of the advantages of Microsoft [Hyper-V] without needing the technical background to make it happen. When you compare it to the Hyper-V and hardware route, this solution sells itself.”