Inter Terminals vSAN Case Study

Inter Terminals is one of the largest independent bulk liquid storage providers in northern Europe, and the largest in Scandinavia. Its facilities function as a strategic storage and blending hub for the shipment of petroleum products, as well as an inland distribution hub for retail petroleum and petrochemical products. With more than 4.25 million cubic metres of storage capacity (approximately 27 million barrels) across Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the UK and Ireland, Inter Terminals operates one of the most comprehensive storage terminal networks available in Europe.

Challenge
Renew outdated server infrastructure to deliver high-performance, centralised services to a newly-formed organisation.

Solution
VMware vSAN hyper-converged infrastructure.

Benefits
Significant performance gains, lower OPEX and greater flexibility to move services to the cloud in the future.

Click here to download a PDF of the full Inter Terminals case study

The Challenge

As is commonplace after a series of mergers and acquisitions, Inter Terminals was looking to centralise its expanded IT infrastructure. Nowhere was this need more apparent than at the company’s Computer Services office in Immingham, UK, where the bulk of the organisation’s core IT services, such as email and intranet, were being delivered to its operations across Europe.

The speed of the company’s expansion was also proving a challenge, since the number of users supported by its UK operations had increased by over 50% within the space of just one year. Not only was this infrastructure not initially scoped to support such a high number of users, its servers were already approaching the end of their natural five-year lifespan. Sustaining a good level of service and performance was therefore beginning to become a concern.

Inter Terminals sought advice from Phoenix Software on how best to centralise its IT services and improve overall performance in light of its expanding user base. At the same time, it was keen to explore whether additional efficiency savings could be made by migrating key services to Microsoft Online Services in the future and by centralising the management of its infrastructure under one domain.

“Whereas the other providers had simply proposed the best on-premise SAN they could, Phoenix Software was the only provider to really consider our long-term ambitions to reduce our reliance on an on-premise infrastructure over time. It was their willingness to propose something specifically tailored for our needs both today and tomorrow – combined with brilliant performance – that ultimately won the day,” 

Richard Cox, IT Systems Manager, Inter Terminals.

The Solution

Phoenix Software proposed VMware’s Virtual SAN (vSAN) hyper-converged infrastructure, which is a highly scalable, high-performance SAN (Storage Area Network). Leveraging the very latest VMware technology for the maximum possible performance, Phoenix recommended an all-flash architecture for Inter Terminals based on Dell PowerEdge R730XD servers in a 4-node solution.

The VMware vSAN all-flash architecture boosts performance over regular non-flash SAN architectures by using flash-based devices for both caching and persistent storage. As a result, it can deliver performance up to 6M IOPS (6 million Input/output operations per second). In order to meet Inter Terminals’ long-term storage needs, Phoenix recommended 20TB of storage.

While Inter Terminals sought recommendations from three different suppliers, Phoenix Software’s solution was ultimately chosen as it was deemed to be the closest fit to the company’s long-term business requirements. “Whereas the other providers had simply proposed the best on-premise SAN they could, Phoenix Software was the only provider to really consider our long-term ambitions to reduce our reliance on an on-premise infrastructure over time. It was their willingness to propose something specifically tailored for our needs both today and tomorrow – combined with brilliant performance – that ultimately won the day,” comments Richard Cox, IT Systems Manager at Inter Terminals.

“Phoenix Software delivered a project on-time, on-budget and exactly to our requirements with exceptional account management throughout. We are very impressed with the performance and flexibility of the new solution and look forward to building on our partnership with Phoenix in the future,

Richard Cox, IT Systems Manager, Inter Terminals.

The Benefits

  • Fast implementation: Phoenix Software operates to the professional standard of the PRINCE2 project management protocol. This ensures that projects are completed efficiently and to agreed standards. By leveraging PRINCE2 principles, Phoenix was able to deploy the vSAN infrastructure and migrate all users across the group within just five days.
  • Exceptional performance: The high IOPS resulting from the all-flash array gives Inter Terminals market-leading performance for its group-wide IT services.
  • OPEX cost savings: In addition to higher performance, the new infrastructure is more cost-efficient to run due to lower power and cooling requirements of the new physical servers.
  • Cloud flexibility: By opting for annual licensing for the vSAN solution instead of the usual five-year term, Inter Terminals is not locked into this hardware configuration for the next five years. If it wants to migrate to cloud services earlier it can do so without wasting its pre-paid licensing fees.

“Phoenix Software delivered a project on-time, on-budget and exactly to our requirements with exceptional account management throughout. We are very impressed with the performance and flexibility of the new solution and look forward to building on our partnership with Phoenix in the future,” concludes Cox.

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