Improved Service Delivery with NetApp, Cisco, and VMW

Client Profile

Meritrust Credit Union was founded 75 years ago to offer Stearman Aircraft Company employees and their family members an option to participate in a financial cooperative. Today the organization provides personal and business banking services to thousands of members across Kansas. Headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Meritrust has 14 branches and a staff of 220 employees, plus more than 4,000 shared branches nationwide.

 

The Challenge

Building more flexibility into its IT infrastructure

As a credit union, Meritrust offers its members benefits that include competitive interest rates on deposits, lower interest rates on loans, and a broad array of member services. To deliver superior banking services that meet consumer and business consumer needs and foster member loyalty, the organization depends on an advanced  IT infrastructure. Having experienced significant growth in recent years, Meritrust demands a highly flexible IT environment that offers superior performance to deliver its applications to internal and external clients, adapt to changing market demands, and expand its services to remain competitive.

 

“Meeting the changing needs of our client is paramount to maintaining the level of member service that Meritrust is known for and [to] succeeding in a volatile industry,” says Cliff Shoff, director of Information Technology at Meritrust Credit Union. “We’ve listened to what our members want and are investing resources in areas such as extending our online banking and mobile banking services and Web-based offerings overall.”

 

In addition to providing the infrastructure to support expanded services, the IT department is focused on driving new efficiencies through an aggressive virtualization strategy. To continue on its growth path and keep delivering exceptional services to its members, Meritrust decided it was time to update an aging IT infrastructure. The previous infrastructure featured 30 standalone servers and a complex server-attached storage environment that was cumbersome to manage and costly to expand when needed to accommodate growth. Additional challenges included inconsistent performance in the storage systems supporting its business-critical Oracle Database 10g environment.

 

“Overall, FlexPod allows us to focus our efforts on the user experience rather than worrying about the back end, now that we have validated, integrated technologies.”

Cliff Shoff Director of Information Technology, Meritrust Credit Union

Meritrust engaged ISG Technology, an IT solutions provider and participant in the NetApp Partner Program for Resellers, to assist with identifying a best-in-class solution that would meet all of the company’s IT and business objectives. To accommodate growth, support its virtualization initiative, and enhance storage performance, Meritrust selected FlexPod from NetApp and Cisco with VMware technology. “The FlexPod data center solution made perfect sense for Meritrust,” says Randall Aronis, account manager at ISG Technology. “The components work together seamlessly by design, which simplifies management and offers a highly scalable growth path for Meritrust.”

 

The Solution

Supporting 14 branches from a single, integrated solution Meritrust worked with ISG Technology to deploy a NetApp® FAS3240HA storage system in its primary data center. NetApp storage is a component of the company’s FlexPod data center solution, a predesigned configuration comprised of a Cisco® Unified Computing System™ (UCS™) B200 M2 Blade Server, Cisco UCS Manager 1.4(1j), Cisco Nexus® 5000 switches, and NetApp FAS storage. The integrated FlexPod solution, with the addition of VMware vSphere and vCenter™ technologies, supports the credit union’s 14 Kansas banking locations and its account, investment, insurance, and other services.
Meritrust delivers its Oracle Database 10g environment—which is core to business operations—on the FlexPod solution. The IT team leverages NetApp multiprotocol support, particularly NFS connectivity, to maintain tight integration with the Oracle environment. The NetApp Data ONTAP® 8.0 system operating in 7-Mode is at the core of the flexible unified architecture that addresses Meritrust’s multiprotocol needs in a common platform. Meritrust IT uses data management software including OnCommand™ System Manager, Operations Manager, Protection Manager, and Provisioning Manager to control, automate, and analyze the storage infrastructure.
The company optimizes performance of its storage using the NetApp Virtual Storage Tier with intelligent caching from NetApp Flash Cache, which prioritizes critical workloads for fast response. “Performance in our Oracle environment was a key driver in selecting the FlexPod solution,” says Shoff. “Whether supporting Meritrust employees or our businesses and consumer clients around Kansas, FlexPod and the NetApp Virtual Storage Tier deliver the superior 24/7 system performance we need.”
The FlexPod data center solution supports the company’s Microsoft Windows® 2003 and 2008 servers, Linux® servers, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, and Microsoft Windows MultiPoint server, which provides the interface between its debit card processor and Oracle Database 10g. FlexPod also supports the organization’s Citrix XenApp on-demand application delivery system. The FlexPod solution delivers the company’s virtualized infrastructure, running simultaneous mission-critical virtualized workloads including Microsoft SharePoint® and Microsoft SQL Server®.

Business Benefits Reaching 80% Virtualization
The FlexPod data center solution is helping Meritrust reach its ultimate goal of a 100% virtualized data center. To date, the IT team has virtualized approximately 80% of the company’s application environments, with 70 virtual servers deployed so far. The team has already eliminated 27 physical servers, with more to come. Virtualization and consolidation are reducing the data center footprint while decreasing related costs. “Prior to deploying the FlexPod solution, we eliminated 4 of 10 storage racks by the time we reached 50% virtualization,” says Shoff. “With virtualization from FlexPod, we’ve eliminated another 5 racks, which reduces storage costs by 40% and our power and cooling costs by 25%.”

 

ISG Technology notes the importance of technology innovation to Meritrust. “Meritrust was an early adopter of the FlexPod data center solution,” says Aronis. “As a preconfigured, integrated virtualization solution, FlexPod enabled Meritrust to see immediate returns in storage efficiency and performance, as well as management simplicity. And with the inherent flexibility in the solution, Meritrust can better provide the robust services that every consumer and prospect is looking to the credit union to deliver. The FlexPod data center solution from NetApp and Cisco with VMware technology allows Meritrust to deliver the right data to the right person at the right time in the right way. That’s the ultimate in flexibility.”
Improved performance, enhanced user experience

The NetApp Virtual Storage Tier with Flash Cache on the company’s FAS3240HA storage systems offers significant performance improvements over the previous storage infrastructure, particularly in the Oracle Database environment. The IT team runs Oracle Database batch processes nightly, which used to take 16 hours to complete. After deploying the FlexPod data center solution, the processing window decreased to 12 hours. Once the team installed Flash Cache, Oracle Database batch processing time dropped to 9 hours, eliminating the impact on weekday operations.
Other performance improvements include application delivery in the Citrix XenApp environment. “We deliver applications as a service to users across our company using Citrix XenApp,” says Shoff. “With the performance gains offered by NetApp, Citrix XenApp login activities that used to take up to 45 seconds now take less than 20 seconds. When you take into account 220 credit union employees accessing applications all day long, those saved seconds translate pretty quickly into improved productivity, not to mention an enhanced user experience.”
A simplified, transformed data center

Within the IT department, moving from infrastructure silos to the preconfigured, unified infrastructure provided by the FlexPod solution has improved the IT management experience for staff members. In the former server-attached storage environment, the IT team managed the complex storage environment from as many as five consoles. Today the team centrally manages computing, networking, storage, and infrastructure software. In addition, the open design management framework integrates with Meritrust’s existing third-party infrastructure management solutions for investment protection and management ease.
The team depends on NetApp OnCommand management software to provision, monitor, manage, and optimize the storage environment. The staff leverages NetApp Data ONTAP 8.0 to configure storage to deliver maximum efficiency and performance while saving on administration time. Featuring 64-bit aggregates, Meritrust IT can store entire databases on a single aggregate while simplifying database management. “NetApp Data ONTAP 8.0 7-Mode makes it much easier for us to resize and move volumes within aggregates, which previously required extensive IT time and resulted in wasted storage space,” says Shoff.
The team achieves additional storage efficiencies using NetApp deduplication, which has reduced storage requirements by 40%. Whether performing deduplication or other storage management activities, the team is benefiting from a noticeably more streamlined approach to storage management with NetApp storage and the FlexPod data center solution. Data center efficiencies result in more budget and staff resources for innovative projects that help Meritrust compete in a complex industry.

 

“The FlexPod solution is much easier to manage, and infrastructure changes take far less time.”

Cliff Shoff Director of Information Technology, Meritrust Credit Union

 

“Scaling up is also a breeze compared with our former storage environment, where we had to power down the system and work through a lengthy deployment process. With FlexPod, we simply add a shelf, plug in a few cables, create an aggregate, load it with volumes, and we’re good to go.” Easy provisioning enables the IT team to more readily respond to the needs of the business units it serves.

 

Adds Shoff, “We can deploy servers in minutes versus hours and quickly allocate storage space whenever needed to accommodate growing pools of data and deliver new applications and services. Overall, FlexPod allows us to focus our efforts on the user experience rather than worrying about the back end, now that we have validated, integrated technologies from NetApp, VMware, and Cisco providing the foundation for our credit union operations.”

 

“The FlexPod data center solution from  NetApp and Cisco with VMware technology
allows Meritrust to deliver the right data to the right person at the right time in the right
way. That’s the ultimate in flexibility.” – Randall Aronis, Account Manager, ISG Technology, Inc.

ISG Joins Forces with Veeam Cloud Connect Program

ISG Technology, a leading cloud hosting partner and technology reseller, has joined the Veeam Cloud Connect Program. Veeam Cloud Connect enables Veeam clients to send backups offsite to the ISG Technology Cloud through a secure SSL connection. Clients can extend the existing investments in IT and pay only for the storage they use. Clients only need to have Veeam version 8 or higher to participate.

By utilizing Veeam Cloud Connect, ISG Technology protects clients’ data from catastrophic loss without the need to own, maintain and support capital intensive infrastructure. With the Veeam console, client can easily access and recover data from cloud backup repositories. Veeam includes Backup Copy jobs with WAN-Acceleration, Deduplication, incremental forever backups and encryption in flight and at rest.

“We are excited and proud to be a member of the Veeam Cloud Connect program,” said Ben Foster, President and CEO of ISG Technology. “Veeam is a strong strategic partner with ISG Technology, and Cloud Connect was a natural addition to our robust cloud offerings. ISG Technology can now provide clients with a fully hosted Veeam solution, a Cloud backup repository through Cloud Connect or assist clients with Veeam at their premises. We feel that is a lineup of services that few can match.”

Resources: https://www.veeam.com/cloud-connect.html 

ISG Launches Technology Cloud in Wichita, KS

ISG Technology, a leading cloud hosting partner and technology reseller, has launched the ISG Technology Cloud in Wichita, Kansas. The ISG cloud platform – available in Missouri and now through one of ISG Technology’s data centers in Kansas – delivers enterprise class virtual infrastructure in combination with a robust set of managed services and storage solutions.

“The launch of our Cloud platform in Wichita further enhances our position as a leader in providing true Hybrid IT for our clients in the Midwest,” said Matt Brickey, VP of Cloud Services for ISG Technology. “We continue to see strong demand for both our cloud solutions and our managed services portfolio, and will continue to invest in providing those services to more regions. With a deep product portfolio across infrastructure, hosting, services and geographies, ISG Technology optimizes our clients’ investments in technology.”

ISG’s operations date back more than 30 years ago, and the company launched its first virtualized service in 2007.  Since that time, ISG has grown to more than 300 cloud clients accounting for over 2,600 virtual servers.

ISG Technology Named to CRN Solution Provider 500

ISG Technology,  a full spectrum Data Center and IT Infrastructure partner, has been named to The Channel Company’s 2015 CRN® Solution Provider 500. The annual list, spanning eight categories, from hardware and software sales to managed IT services, recognizes the top revenue-generating technology integrators, MSPs and IT consultants in North America. Solution providers are ranked based on revenue, determined by product and services sales during 2014.

In the fast changing IT sector, ISG Technology stays ahead of the curve by leveraging ongoing engineer training and certifications. Using a consultative partnership sales approach, ISG engineers create highly customized solutions to help clients manage, access, transport, store and secure data through hybrid deployments of both IT infrastructure and cloud services.

“It’s an honor to be the recipient of this award, and we are encouraged by the 25% year over year improvement in the standings,” says President and CEO of ISG Technology Ben Foster. “CRN has recognized our continual improvement as we deploy our collaborative growth strategies.”

“The companies represented here are truly dedicated to the needs of clients today. With an evolving IT landscape, this prestigious list serves as a valuable industry resource to help vendors navigate the solution provider community and identify the best partners for their business,” said Robert Faletra, CEO, The Channel Company. “We congratulate the featured solution providers for their forward-thinking approach to solutions sales and look ahead to their continued success.”

ISG Launches Hosted Voice Solution

ISG Technology today announced the launch of its Hosted Voice service, a carrier-grade Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony solution. The managed system offers the same features and professional functionality of an enterprise PBX system at a fraction of the cost of an on-site phone system.

ISG Hosted Voice includes everything users need to support their voice and data needs. ISG Technology provides phones, equipment, connectivity, installation, training long distance, and client Support Center.

Included with the price of each “seat”, or user, is a full feature set plus a web portal to customize the business or employee experience; business-wide features such as Auto Attendant and Music on Hold; long distance support; equipment and installation as well as bundled bandwidth/connectivity costs.

With ISG managing the entire solution, issue resolution is streamlined. Clients will have “one call to make” – eliminating the typical finger pointing that happens when companies have multiple vendors for bandwidth and telephone service.

ISG Hosted Voice can easily scale up as a business grows and becomes more mobile. There are no hidden costs – users simply pay a flat rate per phone per month and as their business expands, simply add new users to their account.

According to a recent study by industry analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, 80% of businesses now choose a hosted solution when they install a phone system.

“The surge in interest can be attributed to the fact that we now have the technology to provide a professional experience. We can give our clients access to the same features and professional functionality of an enterprise PBX system at a competitive price,” said Sue Buckley, Director of Connectivity for ISG Technology.

ISG also offers a mobility package called Accession that allows users to integrate their mobile device, tablet, or laptop into Hosted Voice. Accession includes downloadable clients for Windows-based laptops/desktop computers; Android-based mobile devices and tablets; and Apple devices and tablets (iPhone, iPad, MacBook).

Accession integrates all supported mobile devices with desk phone functions and enables users to send and receive calls from any device connected to the Internet. It also supports Instant Messaging, Video Chat, integrates with Microsoft Outlook, and moves active calls between devices.

Learn more about ISG Hosted Voice

ISG Hosted Voice Benefits at a Glance:

  • Low upfront cost for equipment, phones and installation
  • Bundled price includes everything you need: phone system, long distance, and support
  • Advanced features such as simultaneous ring, auto attendant, hunt groups, presence, and music-on-hold
  • Scales to meet your changing business with multiple service tiers to fit your needs
  • Web user interface enables users to change features at a click of a mouse
  • Personalized training to ensure you get the most out of your service
  • Professional support with ISG trained engineers
  • No need to buy or install expensive PBX equipment, solution is hosted by ISG Technology

ISG on CRN's Elite 150 of the MSP 500 List

ISG Technology has been named to CRN’s 2015 list of the Elite 150 of the Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500. This annual list recognizes IT solution providers with high technical expertise and unparalleled certifications. These companies represent an elite group of the top technology providers and consultants whose cutting-edge approach to managed services puts end-user clients in the best position to cut costs, speed time to market for their own products and services and improve efficiencies.

CRN’s MSP500 list is divided into three groups: MSP Elite 150, who are large data center-focused solution providers with both on premises professional services and off-premises services; the MSP Pioneer 250, who have a business model heavily weighted toward managed services focused on the small- and midsize-business market; and the MSP Hosting 100, who own and operate their own data centers, providing a wide array of subscription-based outsourced services.

In the fast changing IT sector, ISG Technology stays ahead of the curve by leveraging ongoing engineer training and certifications. Using a consultative partnership sales approach, ISG engineers create highly customized solutions to help clients manage, access, transport, store and secure data through hybrid deployments of both IT infrastructure and cloud services

“The allure of Everything-as-a-Service to organizations is largely rooted in the appeal of predictable operational expenses, cost-cutting, resource allocation and access to on-demand/pay-as-you-go technology. Therein lies a great need for the expertise of managed service providers,” said Robert Faletra, CEO, The Channel Company. “We congratulate the managed service providers who have engineered, or re-engineered, their businesses to deliver the services their clients rely on for future growth and ongoing success.”

“Winning an award like the CRN Elite 150 proves that we’re making the right decisions to fully support our client’s business needs for the long-term,” said Ben Foster, President and CEO of ISG Technology. “IT infrastructure and data center services are both critical components of our continued success. Because of our full spectrum approach, our engineers can deliver the right technology solution to solve client challenges in a highly responsive manner.”

ISG Emerging Tech Tour Informs Elected Officials

ISG Technology, a full spectrum Data Center and IT Infrastructure partner and leader in Cloud services played host to business leaders and elected officials for its first-ever ISG Technology Tour on Friday, October 17 at the Sprint Accelerator in Kansas City, MO.  The event featured a full day of presentations by technology innovators and was designed to pair attendees with leading-edge technology experts for a hands-on learning experience that would ultimately benefit the business community as a whole.

“Bringing together a diverse team of government officials, K-12 and higher education technology leaders, startup incubators, and industry experts to discuss new frontiers of technology sparks ideas and enables connections,” said Bob Etzel, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for ISG Technology. “ISG Technology sponsoring this event makes a lot of sense. We bring together on-premises IT infrastructure solutions, along with Cloud, IT services and the robust bandwidth needed to tie it all together.”

Presentations were given throughout the day on a variety of cutting-edge technology topics including the role of the Sprint Accelerator in Kansas Economic Development, the mobility application revolution, the role of the KC Start Up Village in bringing entrepreneurs to the Kansas City area, the use of drones in Kansas agriculture and industry, the impact of the Cloud as a data storage solution, an overview of big data analytics and 3D printing and the rapid growth of biotechnology in the Kansas Corridor.

Presenters included Doug Dresslaer of the Sprint Accelerator, Darrin Clawson of Engage Mobile, Adam Arrendondo, Matthew Marcus and Melissa Roberts of the Kansas City Start Up Village (KCSV), Eric Tabor of ISG Technology, Terry Pallotto of Tukuh Technologies, Laurie Kistler of Laurie Kistler Consulting and Mark Hoffman of UMKC.

Technology is fueling the Kansas City entrepreneurial scene.  During the event, common themes included how to bring tech talent to Kansas City and provide proof of business concepts using technology.  Discussions were held around involving students as participants for high growth projects, increasing awareness and encouraging participation.

“Find someone who likes to play in the space and engage,” said Laurie Kistler of Laurie Kistler Consulting.

Those elected officials in attendance included Senator Julia Lynn of Olathe, Representative Barbara Bollier of Fairway, Representative Tom Sloan of Lawrence, Representative Jon Wilson of Lawrence and Lenexa City Councilman Andy Huckaba.

Another highlight of the event was a lunchtime presentation by Stan Herd, the internationally acclaimed sculptor of huge earthwork projects or crop art as it’s known.  Herd spoke about the important role that connecting with others in the business community has had not only on his artwork but on his ability to positively impact communities where he completes his projects.

“It’s not so much about the work—it’s about building a community and engaging in the dance to build a startup, or a monumental crop artwork,” said artist Stan Herd. “We get everyone—the local population, technology people, universities, kids—involved.”

  • Artist Stan Herd discusses the importance of building a community to accomplish huge earthworks.
  • Technology experts Miles Franz from ISG Technology, and Vince Miller from Johnson County Community College.
  • Steve Kearney from Kearney and Associates discusses the implications of technology with Representative Barbara Bollier.
  • Senator Julia Lynn meets with Adam Arredondo and Melissa Roberts of the Kansas City Start Up Village.

KanREN Directly Connected to ISG's DataCenters

ISG Technology is pleased to announce that KanREN, Inc. (Kansas Research and Education Network) will now be directly connected to the ISG regional network of Data Centers. This all-fiber route gives member institutions fast, reliable and secure access to advanced cloud and voice, data and security services without additional broadband connection fees.

KanREN, Inc. is a non-profit consortium of colleges, universities, school districts and other organizations in Kansas, organized for the purpose of facilitating communication among them, and providing themselves with connectivity to the Internet via a statewide network.

The new connection was made with help from Kansas Representative Tom Sloan of Lawrence. “ISG Technology presented at the Vision 2020 committee meeting on the topic of how broadband and cloud services advance Kansas economic development and improve educational services in our schools,” said Representative Sloan. “The committee toured the ISG Data Center in Topeka, and knew it made a lot of sense for these two Kansas entities to work together.”

“Connecting the KanREN network to ISG’s Data Centers is a big leap forward in capability,” said Cort Buffington, Executive Director of KanREN. “It’s great to work with a Kansas company that is committed to our state. ISG has a great reputation and it’s important for many of our members to know that ISG’s operation, including help desk, is right here in Kansas.”

“Information and communication services are rapidly migrating to the cloud and ISG Data Centers provide an in-state source for these new services,” said Ben Foster, the President and CEO of ISG Technology.  “It’s exciting to know that no matter where they are located in our state, every KanREN member institution now has direct access to the most advanced IT services available.”

KanREN is a non-profit consortium of colleges, universities, school districts and other organizations in Kansas, organized for the purpose of facilitating communication among them, and providing them with connectivity to the Internet via a statewide network. KanREN members include the University of Kansas, KU Medical Center, Kansas State University and the other Kansas Board of Regents universities. Ten community colleges, 32 unified school districts, many libraries and municipalities including the City of Lawrence and Johnson County are members of KanREN.

KsFiberNet Appoints New Board President

KsFiberNet is pleased to announce the appointment of Ben Foster as Chairman of the Board of Managers. Foster is the President and CEO of Twin Valley Telephone and the Chairman/CEO of ISG Technology, Inc. He has been a member of the KsFiberNet Board of Managers since 2009.

“The future of reliable broadband connectivity and services in rural Kansas is our highest priority,” said Foster. “Our recent 100Gbps network upgrade has paved the way for future growth and we are poised to support the bandwidth requirements for growth initiatives across Kansas.”

Additionally, CEO and General Manager of Blue Valley Tele-Communications, Brian Thomason, was newly elected to the KsFiberNet Board of Managers.

“We’re excited to have such experienced leaders on board,” said KsFiberNet President Steven Dorf. “We look forward to working with both Ben and Brian through this exciting phase of exponential growth.”

KsFiberNet is an association of 29 fiercely independent rural Kansas telephone companies, some of which having been in business for more than a century. We help these companies develop broadband solutions by creating a ubiquitous network throughout the state. By hiring Kansas contractors and creating Kansas jobs we are bringing incoming revenue to rural Kansas. We are growing fast and bringing with us a lot of energy to fulfill this mission. By moving the entire state forward with this network, we’re giving small telephone companies a pathway to serve clients in the future and ensuring that the people who live in rural Kansas can stay connected to the rest of the world while thriving in the communities they love.

ISG Tech Named to CRN's Tech Elite 250 List

ISG Technology has been named to CRN’s annual list of the Tech Elite 250. These companies represent an elite group of IT solution providers that have invested in the training and education needed to earn the most advanced technical certifications from leading vendors.

In compiling the list, CRN editors worked with The Channel Company’s research group to define the most client-beneficial technical certifications in the IT channel.  These technical certifications – from vendors including Cisco, Citrix, Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, NetApp, Microsoft, VMware, and Symantec – have enabled solution providers to deliver the most premium products, service and support to their North American clients.

In the fast changing IT sector, ISG Technology stays ahead of the curve by leveraging ongoing engineer training and certification. Using a consultative partnership sales approach, ISG engineers create highly customized solutions to help clients manage, access, transport, store and secure data.

“The solution providers highlighted on our annual Tech Elite 250 have demonstrated a commitment to excellence and gained industry credibility by investing in the IT certifications necessary to stay competitive and deliver the highest level of service to their clients, “ said Robert Faletra, CEO, The Channel Company.  “These featured solution providers have enhanced and strengthened their partnerships by earning some of the most difficult certifications from some of the biggest names in IT. We congratulate these organizations and look forward to their continued success.”

“Winning an award like the CRN Tech Elite 250 proves to our clients that we’re making the right decisions to fully support their business needs for the long-term,” said Ben Foster, President and CEO of ISG Technology. “Certification and ongoing training are a critical component of our successful track record. Our engineers deliver incredible service in a highly responsive manner.”