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Building IT From Scratch

Spice IT

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What if you had to completely start over with your IT deployment? It happens every day. Companies sell off divisions, startups receive funding, and sometimes the timing is just right to replace everything and start over.

It may sound frightening to some. To others, it will come across as a huge relief and a substantial opportunity. When you are starting with just a list of requirements in your hand and not a single server or engineer to your name, you get the chance to wipe out past compromises and deploy in a new way. With new developments in virtualization technology and converged infrastructure, starting fresh can help companies realize new potential.

I’ve helped a number of companies with this exact situation, and it really drives home what a great partner CDW can be. Whether you are outfitting your employees with laptops, networking your offices, hosting your servers, or providing the ongoing support of your environment, CDW has got it covered. Through our expert teams and selected partners, we can get companies up and running fast.

Starting from scratch is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming opportunity. By partnering with CDW, we can take over a lot of the heavy lifting and let your company focus on what it does best.

I Don’t Know What I Need, But I Need It Now

I was recently involved in a large project with a startup company that had secured a venture capital and needed to grow fast. They had deadlines to meet and were having difficulty hiring the right people. They had a number of requirements to fill in short order:

  • Internet/WAN Connectivity for multiple offices
  • Laptops for their new hires
  • Email and phone systems
  • Secure hosting for their application servers
  • Deployment Assistance
  • Ongoing Infrastructure Management

On top of that they had to do all of this with no IT staff beyond the IT Manager and CIO.

These requirements are the common building blocks for new companies. If you’ll notice, nowhere in those requirements does it list a vendor or specific technology. That is where CDW excels. We represent a number of different vendors, and can provide multiple solutions for every business need. It’s our goal to take your business requirements and turn them into great solutions.

Make A Plan…

When you’re starting from scratch, you’ve got nearly limitless options available to you. You can choose from several voice platforms, multiple email options, datacenter colocation providers, laptop options, network equipment… the list goes on and on.

As a Managed Services Solution Architect, I get to represent a number of different technology areas. CDW’s Managed Services group has over 70 different Managed Services that we provide around 13 technology silos. When we help customers design their new infrastructure, we don’t just look at one area at a time. We make sure that we select technologies that work well together to give our customers the best return on their investment.

We sat down with our example company and had an in-depth, multiple day planning session. We gathered requirements and started to white board solutions. As new requirements came to light (a largely mobile workforce, strict compliance needs) we would adjust the design and keep moving.

  • For WAN and Internet Communication, CDW has reseller relationships with over 20 major carriers. Our Voice and Data Architects were able to select the right provider that was present in the new office locations to speed circuit turn up times.
  • We were able to determine an appropriate laptop deployment design, and we used CDW’s Configuration Centerto image the systems before shipping them out.CDW also maintains partnerships with national help desk providers. Instead of staffing an internal help desk, we were able to select a partner to provide this service. Now our customer doesn’t have to focus on building up processes around end user support. They will get enterprise class support day one.
  • CDW has a number of managed voice and email options that can be implemented in weeks. By selecting one of these options, the customer gets up and running quickly and doesn’t have to hire dedicated resources to manage these systems
  • CDW maintains five datacenter locations around the United States, and represents over 700 other locations around the world. Instead of having to build and operating their own data room, I selected one of CDW’s Tier 3+ facilities to host equipment.
  • For the server and storage platform, we went with a Flexpod design, utilizing Cisco network devices and servers and NetApp SAN. This is a proven architecture that has been vetted by the manufacturers, and its a system that CDW engineering has implemented many times with great results. This design makes it easier to add new applications to the environment, and the flexible nature of Cisco UCS B-Series servers lets us add resources quickly if necessary.When we were deciding on the final hardware footprint, it became clear that we would need to create a temporary environment for our customer. With CDW’s enterprise public cloud, we were able to spin up a development environment to get the customer up and running quickly. Once the final architecture is in place, we will be able to easily migrate the vital servers from the public cloud to the private environment.

… and Execute It 

With a plan in place, it becomes much easier to start tackling this buildout. I will always start by working backwards from a meaningful date. If you have a planned product launch 120 days out, then we start looking at the tasks that need to be done before that point, how long they will take, and prioritize based on that. I’ve found that the two tasks that need to be started immediately are ordering WAN circuits and hardware orders. WAN circuits can take up to two months even if everything goes well. Specialized hardware orders can take a month or more to get delivered.

At this point, if you are trying to build your own IT staff, you’ll probably find that you’re still trying to fill some very key roles. Hiring experts in IT is difficult right now, especially ones that will be able to help with the build out of new technology. CDW has over 1,000 engineers that are experts in their technologies. We bring these experts together into project teams to help deploy these environments for our customers every day.

Going back to our example, we worked out a deployment strategy together with our customer. CDW engineering deployed over 100 servers, along with the associated networking, security, and storage resources. CDW provided technical specialists for the deployment, as well as a project manager to guide the implementation and ensure we were on track to meet deadlines. The customer was able to focus on their custom applications knowing that CDW was taking care of the infrastructure.

Comments

3 Comments

  1. Leonard Cino

    Great food for thought. Timing is everything, I recently won a new construction bid. I am responsible for designing the server room and equipment rooms on each floor [3story] along with all the equipment, phone and internet lines. Currently, this project is still in the hands of the architects with ground breaking April/May 2013. John, I’m grateful for this article – great memory jogger.

    1. Victor

      If you’ve ever started a conapmy, you’ll remember the level of excitement that you feel on the first day or first month or first year of turning the idea into a reality . It’s a feeling that’s tough to beat.Today walking through 1871, I felt that same way again. 1871 is the beginning of a huge new opportunity for startups in Chicago.

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