The solicitor’s office Schönherr employs some 550 people, of which 300 are jurists, at 14 locations in central and eastern Europe, providing exceptional coverage in the region. Within such a network, information must be available in all countries through a reliable, performant system. New storage/SAN infrastructure based on Dell EMC VNX/VPLEX technology and Cisco UCS blade servers would boost availability first and foremost.
Schönherr had long wanted a system that would provide automatic, interruption-free failover ensuring that applications remain available even if there is a problem with their hardware. Once Dell EMC VPLEX technology—which is ideally suited for such situations—became affordable for mid-sized companies, Schönherr decided to go ahead with its project. Günther Leichtfried, Head of IT at Schönherr, highlighted Bechtle’s expert support leading up to the company’s decision: “Scalability, availability, investment protection and other similar topics can be difficult to grasp. Bechtle’s consultants were great at placing themselves in the shoes of our internal stakeholders to help us win them over, and they also delivered exactly the right information for the target audience.” Underpinning the new design was the requirement that users should barely notice a blip if either of the mirrored data centres went down. In addition, disaster recovery scenarios would have to be able to run fully autonomously, without any loss of performance.
Project management, logistics and coordination all went off without a hitch. Information was accurate, to-the-point and delivered in a timely manner.
Günther Leichtfried, Head of IT, Schönherr Europe
Bechtle designed and implemented a solution comprising Dell EMC VNX 5400 storage, Cisco UCS blade servers and a VPLEX virtualisation engine. The VPLEX storage virtualisation layer enables a fully transparent failover from one data centre to the other. It is currently the only product that allows simultaneous read/write access to a volume distributed across both sites. At the heart of Schönherr’s data storage is Autonomy WorkSite, a document management system designed to meet solicitors’ specific needs. It serves as a data pool enabling fast searches and ensuring compliance. However, the solution’s complex architecture does not allow for server virtualisation or clustering. But without virtualisation, services usually cannot be automatically booted on another physical system, as the new system would have a different identity from the original one. Manual intervention would therefore be needed. Bechtle had a solution for this conundrum—a Cisco UCS server infrastructure that deploys compute resources just in time. The server’s identity can be dynamically provisioned using service profiles, making it possible to transfer to any physical server within the system.
If a Schönherr server goes down, a replacement system can be booted and given the exact same identity in virtually no time, which significantly increases the availability of non-virtualised systems in combination with VPLEX. “The interaction between Dell EMC and Cisco technology is impressive, and system operation, provided by Bechtle, is running smoothly,” summarises a very satisfied Günther Leichtfried.