Benjamin Nill doesn’t make promises he can’t keep. As a senior systems engineer and solutions architect at Advanced UniByte (AU) in Germany, he’s part of pre-sales conversations with customers and he’s there at the end to make sure that everything works, which means he needs to deliver on every solution he proposes.
“When implementation starts, I need to take care of the things I promised it would do,” he says. “I’m the person who answers the phone if my customer has a question.”
Since its inception in 1994, AU has developed a very focused portfolio with a heavy emphasis on delivering what they promise. They have been a valued NetApp partner for more than 15 years, and they have grown to 192 employees, who deliver IT infrastructure, storage and cloud services. During that time, their company values — expertise, sustainability, and a sense of responsibility — have never wavered. Their knowledge of each client’s operations is extensive, and they do a deep technical dive on every single engagement to solve their customers’ challenges.
“Our customers are telling us that their core IT teams are getter smaller,” Nill says. “When it comes to storage, they have to manage more terabytes with fewer people. They need automation orchestration, and they need it to be simple.”
Show them you can do it
Designing simple solutions to address complex problems isn’t for the faint of heart. One of the best ways to guarantee you can deliver for a client is to prove it to yourself first with a prototype.
“Most of our customers don’t believe that high-end 3D graphics can run on a centralized and virtualized environment,” Nill explains.
However, his customers are motivated to find a better way to operate. Graphically intensive workflows are becoming more challenging because datasets are bigger and more complex, clogging bandwidth that can’t be expanded for individual desktops. Companies that rely on heavy-compute CAD/CAM programs are looking for solutions that deliver the performance and security they need.
Nill knows which components can deliver those results, but he’s serious about AU’s commitment to delivering tested solutions. That’s one reason he turns to NetApp and Cisco’s FlexPod. Together with his team, he built a small-scale proof-of-concept (POC) to show how the solution works, starting with one of FlexPod’s validated designs. AU also used Ansible to easily automate the deployment, backup and restore, and leveraged the replication feature of NetApp’s ONTAP. Their goal was to shorten the time it takes to prepare a POC. It’s now a model that AU uses internally, and they can adapt it for customers when they need to.
The first test case was a VDI solution for a large automotive customer with a heavy 3D workload. Using the new POC, they were able to demonstrate the system using the customer’s own data and their own corporate look and feel. FlexPod kept the design simple and easy to scale.
Unlock the potential of VDI
Showing the solution in action opens the door to further conversations about how VDI can help the customer’s bottom line. Most importantly, Nill notes, VDI reduces the burden on IT staff and creates more capacity to address changing workloads, allowing the customer to focus on strategic priorities instead of operational ones.
VDI also addresses other pain points that are increasingly common among AU customers. For example, when it comes to attracting talent, companies are under pressure to offer remote work and bring-your-own-device capabilities without sacrificing performance or security. AU’s VDI solutions do this by combining best-of-breed technologies like FlexPod that can be customized to meet specific needs while leaving flexibility to grow — something that matters to AU as the rate of cloud adoption begins to accelerate in Europe.[i]
“With FlexPod, our customers can start small with an on-premises solution,” Nill says. “As more customers start moving to a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud solution, FlexPod can grow with them, and the validated designs provide an extra layer of confidence.”
Level up one step at a time
The idea of starting small is key for Nill, not only because it demonstrates what’s possible, but because it’s a way for organizations to get started in the first place. He says many companies have interesting ideas that they’re reluctant to pursue because the risks seem too high. Starting small opens the door to innovation.
“We can now do many things that we never thought possible,” Nill says, noting that advances like all-flash mean that data is accessible at speeds we once only dreamed of. “Innovations like NetApp’s data fabric give customers the flexibility to do things they haven’t yet thought of. We can help them make it work.”
To learn more about how they do it, visit Advanced UniByte’s website.