Technical Fact 12: IT environmental refresh

Sebastiaan Verhoeven
26-apr-2022 10:50:36

Incredible progress has been made by technology in the last couple of years. The future of technology is overwhelming for some, while it can be exciting for others. In our ‘Technical Facts’ series, we have put together some interesting and surprising facts about tech! This Technical Fact differs a bit from the previous ones. With this TF we want to give you a clear insight into our way of working. Therefore we will guide you step by step through the environmental refresh we performed.

What was the initial situation?

The customer in this case (whose name we unfortunately cannot communicate) is a small-medium business. The company is part of a bigger organisation today.

Our client was aware that their IT infrastructure was outdated. They were not really aware of how its IT-infrastructure was built, it was unclear whether there were quality backups of their data and their business-critical documents, there were little to no IT security policies and there was limited knowledge about IT in general.

It’s needless to say that our customer was very happy that nothing major happened and that the old IT-infrastructure kept running without (big) issues. Disaster could have struck any time!

Why did they need our help?

Our customer was aware of the fact that their IT was in a critical state. Critical because they: had limited documentation or no documentation at all, did not have any IT security policies, did not have any backups, were using old physical servers without hardware maintenance, were using outdated software, etc.

They knew that if anything would happen it would be very hard to determine the cause of the problem (because of the difficulties mentioned above). This would automatically imply that even a small disaster could have major consequences. In addition, the risk of permanent dataloss was very high.

All these issues resulted in our client looking for an IT partner who could manage their overall IT infrastructure. And this is where they called for our help.

How did we approach this case?

For Sebastiaan (our system engineer) it was very clear that nothing of the old infrastructure could be reused. The infrastructure was just too old. That’s why we had to get a clear view of our client’s needs, as well as a clear overview of the current infrastructure in order to be able to brainstorm about the desired setup.

After we had explored some possibilities, we decided to use a combination of VMware, Lenovo, IBM and HYCU . We sized a VMware cluster on Lenovo servers with direct attached IBM storage. We also designed a network setup consisting of 2x core switches, 2 POE access switches and a management switch. In order to provide our customer with a cost efficient backup solution we turned to a Synology NAS with HYCU backup software. All windows servers (File server / Active Directory / App server) were setup from scratch and the firewall was replaced.

Before we could install the new infrastructure, we had to figure out which devices in the rack were still in use. We also had to completely figure out where all the network patches were leading to. Once all of this was clear we labeled and documented everything in detail for a more convenient transition. Then we decommissioned all the equipment and cables that were not being used. This gave us enough space to place the new infrastructure. At that moment we could start racking the new hardware as well as setting up the new windows environment.

Specific steps during the implementation phase

  • We P2V’ed (Physical to Virtual) SAP to the new VMware cluster.
  • Next we have set up the active directory redundantly. Users were created in a new OU structure and migrated to the new domain.
  • Afterwards we have also set up the file server and migrated old data to the new one. The data was migrated following stricter & cleaner rules on folder distribution
  • We set up the application server and corresponding applications were migrated.
  • The next step was to setup the firewall. We introduced best practice VLAN / subnet segmentation of the entire environment for security reasons.
  • Then we set up the back-up environment and applied policies according to the business needs of backup strategy for our costumer.
  • Afterwards we installed Sophos on all laptops. Sophos allows us to manage all laptops centrally, so we have a clear overview of their security.

At last, when the full migration was done we added all infrastructure (up until OS) to our PRTG monitoring software.

As you can see in the picture below, there is a big difference in the ‘before’ and the ‘after’ situation. And ofcourse that is what we’re aiming for!

The front of the IT infrastructure before and after the environmental refresh.

If you have any questions about this project, or if we can help you with your own IT-environment please contact us. We are more than happy to help you!

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