Epicor makes it a priority to offer first-class support so their customers’ productivity and profitability is never compromised. They aim to identify and resolve any issues quickly and efficiently, but in the event a remote fix is not possible, they request a copy of the customer’s database to interrogate it further. For the period of diagnosis, data is hosted on Epicor’s own IT systems.
“The difficulty we had encountered was that the databases were getting huge, often surpassing the 1TB mark,” explains Peter Williams, Epicor’s IT Director for APAC and EMEA. Experiencing growth in their own business, the number of troubleshooting requests rose too, putting pressure on the 5-year-old Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) 3PAR storage array used to host the data. At 85% capacity they would soon max-out on available storage.
Although they had purchased an interim HPE MSA solution for non-critical storage and worked hard to reduce the reliance on the 3PAR environment, Epicor realised it was critical that the legacy system was replaced sooner rather than later. “While we’d put temporary measures in place, we knew the time had come for us to re-evaluate,” elaborates Williams. “We were also beginning to run into management issues that were causing more problems than they were solving, so had to decide quickly whether to invest again in 3PAR technology, or look at an alternative.” Epicor approached their IT partner, CCS Media (CCS) for advice in the decision-making process.
Since its doors opened in 1972, Epicor has been a leading provider of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and management solutions for a broad range of different industries, most notably in the manufacturing, services, and retail sectors.
Established in Austin, Texas, Epicor now has a significant global presence, its software is currently relied upon by more than 20,000 customers in 150 countries around the world to deliver improved performance and support business growth.
“The difficulty we had encountered was that the databases were getting huge, often surpassing the 1TB mark. We were also beginning to run into management issues that were causing more problems than they were solving, so had to decide quickly whether to invest again in 3PAR technology, or look at an alternative.”
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“We had to know that Nimble would fit seamlessly with the new fabric, CCS were instrumental in ensuring this went off smoothly, orchestrating all the resources we needed to deploy the fabric and then implement the storage solution.”
As a US-owned company, some of the thinking was being informed by infrastructure standards already adopted stateside, with HPE and Pure Storage solutions already in production there. With this in mind and following input from CCS, Epicor narrowed their options to HPE 3PAR, HPE Nimble Storage, and Pure Storage. Comfortable in the knowledge that they were not seeking an increase in performance, Epicor’s search was instead driven by a need for greater capacity and headroom for future growth.
Wanting to ensure they would be making the right decision, the experience of their US colleagues was sought. Graham King, Epicor’s International Server Team IT Manager expresses how the US feedback correlated with the advice they were receiving from CCS. “They had had their own experiences using both Pure and Nimble Storage in particular and suggested that the latter would be a strong option for us to look into in more detail. CCS had already explained there would be all-flash and hybrid variants to explore and felt strongly we take a closer look. While 3PAR wasn’t totally off the table, we wanted a solution that would require less specialist know-how.”
With only a limited understanding of Nimble Storage, Epicor consulted further with CCS on the HPE options. “While we had worked with CCS in the past, this was the first time we’d ever worked with them on an enterprise project of this sort of scale,” King affirms. Epicor were impressed by the time and effort taken by CCS to fully understand their business requirements and support them in identifying which storage solution would work best for them.
To qualify the value of the HPE technology, CCS arranged a comprehensive demo day with HPE. This provided an in-depth discovery of the technology’s capabilities and the chance to put their questions forward to experts from both HPE and CCS. Impressed by the Nimble Storage technology, a postdemo price comparison supported the operational value of the solution with compelling commercials that made their mind up to deploy a hybrid storage array. This would harness both flash and conventional disk to create an optimised solution for their needs at a fraction of the cost versus all-flash alternatives, without sacrificing performance.
Already familiar with InfoSight, HPE’s predictive analytics system, thanks to their experience with 3PAR, with assistance from CCS, Epicor was able to more accurately understand their capacity requirements for the next 3 years using data the tool had gathered. This insight helped size the new system, with a further contingency for growth. The result was a specification for a 150TB array.
Alongside the upgrade of their storage solution, Epicor would also need to upgrade their switch fabric from 8GB to a much faster 16GB connection. “We had to know that Nimble would fit seamlessly with the new fabric,” King clarified. “CCS were instrumental in ensuring this went off smoothly, orchestrating all the resources we needed to deploy the fabric and then implement the storage solution.”