Black Tiger Belgium installs a modern HCI infrastructure to optimize its data management services

Black Tiger Belgium has modernized its IT infrastructure to offer its customers a High Availability offering. The company is an expert in data management and the use of personal data. A lot of this data is business-critical, requiring the highest possible uptime and full compliance. As a trusted and longtime partner, Core ICT helped Black Tiger Belgium to transform to a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) provided by Nutanix.

Black Tiger Belgium is part of the Black Tiger Group, a French software company that has developed a new generation Customer Data Platform, ‘Master CDP’ specialized in business data activation, natively supporting data quality and compliance issues. Since the infrastructure of Black Tiger Belgium had reached the end of its lifecycle, the company wanted to install a full and future-proof replacement. However, the project was under a lot of time pressure due to a company carve-out that required all assets to be retrieved locally. Black Tiger Belgium distinguished two possible scenarios: either continue to work with traditional storage boxes or move to a modern hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

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“We decided to go for the innovative solution and avoid single points of failure by implementing HCI. But since there was no room for trial and error, we needed proven technology and a reliable partner”, says Christophe De Brabanter, Solution Architect/R&D Director at Black Tiger Belgium. Fortunately, being a client of Core ICT for more than six years, Black Tiger Belgium already had the partner they were looking for.

For the technology part, the criteria for the solution were evident. It had to be reliable and avoid single points of failure. Black Tiger wanted scalability and a cloud-first approach that can be deployed on-premise and that would free them from the data sensitivity issues of the public cloud.

The company was also looking for management efficiencies to support its relatively small team of system administrators. Furthermore, there was a clear roadmap towards container technology and Kubernetes orchestration, and SDDC mode.

Hyperconverged infrastructure

Core ICT and Black Tiger Belgium agreed that Nutanix would be the best choice to implement HCI. “We have a multi-vendor strategy at Core ICT, but Nutanix is our most trusted partner when it comes to HCI environments”, says Kristof Van Elshocht, Technical Sales Engineer at Core ICT. “Nutanix offers much more than hardware and storage. Being software-defined and automated, it is the new way of working.” Black Tiger Belgium installed a hybrid cluster with their main activity running on the Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor. In addition, they also have software that requires VMware ESX running. Thanks to Nutanix Prism Pro, the company’s system administrators can easily manage both sub-clusters from one central console.

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For Black Tiger Belgium, Karbon Kubernetes Orchestration is another important feature of Nutanix. “We come from a world where we used to work with classic VMs, but now we often need to support the live context of retailers, telcos, couriers, etc. Fixed VMs do not provide the most optimal solution for this, so we started working with Kubernetes clusters. Whereas a VM takes a lot of time to spin up, a docker container can do this in a split second”, says Christophe De Brabanter. Karbon is a module in Nutanix that enables users to launch a new Kubernetes cluster in just a few clicks. Upgrades are also completely automated and require no manual work. “The possibility to dynamically scale up and down really appealed to our system admins”, says De Brabanter.

0% downtime

The implementation of the new infrastructure started in February 2021 and was completed in about two months. Core ICT guided and trained the internal team of Black Tiger Belgium to take control of the migration. The way, they ensured that everything could keep running during the migration without losing a single second of production.

“Nutanix is new technology for Black Tiger Belgium, but Core ICT immediately gave us the feeling that we were in good hands. A big advantage is the fact that we could continue to work with the same people who visited us during the sales process. Replacing our legacy infrastructure with something completely new is very challenging, but the experts of Core ICT understood the sizing that was needed to get our systems up and running. It was spot on”, says Christophe De Brabanter.

Thanks to the new environment, Black Tiger Belgium is able to offer its customers the highest possible availability. “Up to now, we have had 0% downtime. We provide our clients the stability they need for their business-critical data. We are able to respond to the increasing pressure of their SLA’s and do even more than before the migration”, says Marc Uytdenbroek, Head of R&D and IT at Black Tiger Belgium. “The scalability and robustness of the infrastructure also match our ambition to grow on an international level. It gives us peace of mind that we can expand our business in the future.”

One third less manpower

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With an on-premises solution like Nutanix, we have all the benefits of the cloud without the related risks. We can manage everything in our own ISO-certified data center. This is important for our customers who want to know where their data is stored”, says Uytdenbroek. “Our Nutanix environment allows us to make the Black Tiger platform the authority for ethical data and become the GDPR party of choice for businesses, providing high-level security, out-of-the-box encryption, and compliance at all times.”

In addition, efficient management of the environments enables Black Tiger Belgium’s IT team to focus on their core business instead of performing time-consuming manual tasks. Besides centralized monitoring, Nutanix also adds predictability features and transparency. “The automatic management of hot and cold storage helps us to optimize our storage budget, which is very important for a data-intensive company like Black Tiger”, says Christophe De Brabanter. As a result, the infrastructure team of Black Tiger Belgium can now keep everything up and running with a third less manpower.

Next steps

In the short term, Black Tiger Belgium aims to complete the Karbon implementation and bring all their services to the same high availability level. Next they want to explore other features that Nutanix has to offer and see how they can continue to improve their customer services. For this, Black Tiger Belgium can count on the ongoing guidance provided by Core ICT or reach out to Nutanix Support. “Core ICT’s advice and coaching has prevented most situations where we need support, but it gives great comfort that Nutanix is there to provide us with international assistance around the clock”, says Christophe De Brabanter. “We see our successful partnerships with Core ICT and Nutanix as long-term collaborations that support the growth of our business and that of our customers.”

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