Facing a business need to move a core component of its IT infrastructure from the United States to Europe, Harsco turned to its long-term partner, Meridian. Together, the two companies delivered a seamless transfer of the IBM POWER8 hardware, as well as introducing new 24/7 remote management and cloud-based high availability capabilities.
With the move successfully complete and its new capabilities in place, Harsco has seen a host of benefits. First, the new IBM POWER8 server is far more powerful than Harsco’s previous generation of servers, enabling the company to consolidate three key applications onto a single physical box while still delivering excellent performance.
Vicki Orman notes: “The 24/7 remote management capability is crucial too – our new system needs to be available round-the-clock. The Meridian service ensures that it’s monitored constantly, and any issues are swiftly resolved – minimising time, stress, and disturbance for Harsco.
“This also meant that we didn’t have to recruit additional resources for support once we moved infrastructure to the UK, resulting in a saving on headcount compared to our US set-up.”
Harsco further benefits from its new high availability configuration, as Vicki Orman explains: “High availability is crucial as we’re not just running our European systems in the UK, but also our Asia-Pacific systems – so the server really does need to be online 24/7 to support users in all those time zones”.
“Our previous backup policy was to restore from tape – the last outage we had before this project took two days to recover. The new high availability functionality offers faster restores and near-zero data loss – so in the event of failure, there’s minimal downtime for users, and very little impact on our business or our ability to serve clients.”
“Moreover, gaining high availability in the form of a cloud service means we don’t have to purchase and maintain a second server.”
Unlike most IBM partners, Meridian operates globally. They have a presence in both the US and the UK – so it excelled in helping us negotiate the transfer of licenses and support between the two countries.
IT Director, Europe & Africa
Operating 166 sites worldwide, Harsco Corporation is an industrial products company with over 10,000 employees and revenues of $1.7 billion in 2015. Steelmakers, rail companies and energy producers rely on its products and services – from high-efficiency water heaters used in large-scale projects such as New York’s One World Trade Center, to the maintenance of rail lines from the Swiss Alps to the Amazon rain forest.
It is crucial that Harsco’s IT infrastructure keeps up with its fast-paced business, as Vicki Orman, IT Director of Europe and Africa at Harsco, explains: “Our IBM Power Systems servers run our critical core business systems, so the impact of downtime would be very detrimental. For example, it could disrupt our ability to procure essential materials, or maintain and repair our assets effectively. In business terms, it’s just not acceptable for these systems to be offline when we need them.” She adds: “Recently, to align with some organisational changes in our global business, we decided to relocate our European and Asia-Pacific IT infrastructure from the United States to the United Kingdom. Because these systems are so critical, we knew that the transfer had to be as smooth as possible to cause minimal disturbance to the business.”
However, the transition of Harsco’s IT infrastructure and licenses to Europe presented several challenges. “We faced both the logistical problems of moving large-scale, high-tech equipment, and the administrative issues of transferring our IBM licenses, which were territorially-based,” notes Vicki Orman. “We also wanted to consolidate three of our existing US servers onto one new IBM POWER8 server after we’d moved the hardware to the UK.”
Harsco turned to longstanding partner Meridian to help it achieve a successful transition. Vicki Orman says: “We have worked with Meridian for about 15 years and the team are always incredibly helpful and reliable. Their level of service is incomparable, so we were more than confident that they could get the job done.” Meridian took care of the move from end to end – from auditing Harsco’s hardware and software, and packaging and shipping the equipment via a specialist transportation company, to installing and configuring it in the UK.“Meridian completed the entire project over a weekend, so we were up and running again by Monday on our new IBM POWER8 server,” comments Vicki Orman. “They also had a data recovery machine on standby with a full copy of the data just in case something went wrong and there were delays – though we didn’t need it in the end.“ Additionally, unlike most IBM partners, Meridian operates globally. They have a presence in both the US and the UK – so it excelled in helping us negotiate the transfer of licenses and support between the two countries.”
As well as successfully implementing the transition, Meridian added some new services and capabilities to Harsco’s IT environment. “Meridian now manages our server remotely, 24/7,” remarks Vicki Orman. “If there’s a hardware issue, it handles the support requests with IBM and takes care of fixes and upgrades. “We now use Meridian’s remote management & monitoring solution which provides a full remotely managed, 24/7 monitoring & escalation service” remarks Vicki Orman. “If there’s a hardware issue, it handles the support requests with IBM and takes care of fixes and upgrades”. “Meridian also deployed its High Availability as a Service offering, which continuously replicates data from our production server to the Meridian Power Cloud – so if our system goes down, we can instantly fail over to their server and keep the business up and running.”