When the United Kingdom government’s feed-in tariff (FIT) encouraged thousands of British subjects to start generating their own electricity, renewable energy provider Good Energy took advantage of the growth in this market to become the second-largest supplier for FIT in the United Kingdom. Chris Rose, head of business transformation at Good Energy, says, “In just two years, our FIT customer base has grown from 2,000 to 40,000. Our goal is for all of the U.K.’s electricity demand to be met from renewable sources by 2050.”
Good Energy uses voice over IP (VoIP) technology to communicate with customers. But FIT’s popularity strained the company’s network infrastructure. Significant network traffic resulted in poor call quality and long delays accessing applications and data.
The company knew it had to make a significant investment in IT to improve network performance and resilience and ensure it could keep downtime to a minimum in the event of a disaster. After researching various options, the company discovered Dell™ EqualLogic™ storage solutions. “We were impressed with Dell’s technology and the interest the sales team took in our issues,” says Rose. “We’re obviously not the largest potential customer, but the Dell team took time to find out about us. It provided us with excellent advice on how to achieve our two main goals of improving network performance and implementing a robust disaster recovery solution.”
Good Energy asked Dell Services to help design a network configured to meet the company’s current and future needs. “Initially, we were skeptical about involving Dell Services, but the return on investment has been fantastic,” says Rose. “The Dell Services team conducted an analysis and benchmarking review of our systems. It came back to us with an architecture that incorporated two major projects — disaster recovery and network latency — and used our existing storage array and server investments.
“The brilliant thing about working with Dell was that everyone was open with documentation and generous in terms of sharing knowledge. The amount we learned in two days was amazing — we went through a lot: how to do a replication, how to go about disaster recovery. It was invaluable.”
Good Energy deployed three Dell PowerEdge™ R720 servers and two Dell Networking S4810P switches along with EqualLogic PS6110XV and PS6110X storage arrays at its primary site. “We created a highly resilient IT infrastructure featuring Dell-based primary and secondary sites,” says Rose. “We’ve spent around 50 percent less than we would’ve paid if we’d chosen another solution provider. We’ve been impressed with Dell because it built a solution using our existing hardware — whereas when we talked to other big providers, they told us to replace our kit.”
The Dell Networking switches and the Dell PowerEdge servers enabled Good Energy to gain more than a threefold increase in performance. Rose says, “The speed of our network is unparalleled, and we couldn’t be more impressed.”
In three years, Good Energy’s staff has more than doubled to keep up with the company’s expanding customer base. Rose says, “The demand for storage is constantly increasing and with Dell EqualLogic we’ve got a solution that’s designed to grow with us.” Good Energy uses tools such as EqualLogic SAN Headquarters to help ensure optimal use of resources by identifying underused assets and potential bottlenecks.
The Dell EqualLogic storage arrays are designed to allocate data to the most appropriate tier, so data that is accessed infrequently is automatically moved to the lowest-cost tier. “We need to ensure our storage arrays are operating cost-effectively regardless of how much the business grows. We’re confident that we’re using our resources wisely with Dell EqualLogic tiering,” says Rose.
Dell EqualLogic storage also has a long support period of seven years. “If we decide to take advantage of new releases, we know that they’ll always integrate with our existing Dell solutions,” says Rose. “We can continually build on our investments and avoid unnecessary costs.”
Moreover, when the Dell team reviewed the company’s infrastructure, it saw potential for reducing spending on virtualization licenses. “The Dell PowerEdge servers have 96 GB of memory, so we can run one as a virtualization host server,” says Rose. “Now, instead of having five host servers, we have three, so we require fewer VMware licenses. We’re reducing our ongoing licensing spending by 30 percent with the Dell PowerEdge servers, because we need fewer virtualization licenses.”
Good Energy is confident in its ability to maintain the performance of its infrastructure through Dell ProSupport with Mission Critical four-hour on-site assistance for its servers, storage and switches. “Even minor issues are quickly resolved so that our staff can continue working unaffected,” says Rose. “Dell understands the importance of IT to companies and has developed a comprehensive package of IT solutions and services to cover all of an organization’s requirements.”