By Lyanne Esparza
Operator of 10 hotels across the U.S. gains efficiencies, savings and flexibility with Dell Cloud Services solutions. Dell completed a casestudy about ScaleMatrix client Sunburst Hospitality Corporation and their Although the need for change might build up over years, the trigger to act can occur instantly. That’s what happened when Sunburst Hospitality Vice President of Information Systems Mark Elbaum learned that his company was selling one of the many hotels it operates in the United States. “Coincidentally our data center was in the property’s basement,” he recalls. “I knew then that it was time to rethink how we address our IT needs.” Founded in 1993, Sunburst Hospitality has a portfolio of 10 hotels, operating under such brand names as Best Western, Comfort Inn and others. Elbaum joined the company at its founding, with a fresh set of eyes and newly acquired hospitality and hotel management skills. “At the time, I was the only one who knew computers, so I got tagged with IT, which grew over time from just desktop PCs to fully networked operations,” he says.
Elbaum’s IT responsibilities today extend from the company’s headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland, to each hotel, including wireless coverage and telephone systems. Without any staff, he’s called when technology issues arise. He’s also the liaison between the different hotel brands, while overseeing all its real estate, reservations and time/ attendance systems, and its financial and budgeting systems. When Elbaum first heard about the coming sale of the hotel where the company’s data center resided, he had just six months to relocate its operations to the corporate office or migrate to an alternative—all without any service disruptions at corporate or its hotels. “Servers were old, many needing replacement, costing time and money to buy, install and configure,” he says. “Also, our headquarters is prone to power outages, sometimes for a day or more, due to Northeastern storms.” Elbaum decided that a cloud-based, ITas-a-service (ITaaS) approach would be a viable, much more cost-effective and time-saving alternative to relocating the data center. With no time to issue an RFP, Elbaum evaluated two vendor offerings, choosing the Dell Cloud On Demand service. With its consultative approach and ability to broker services from a rich ecosystem of cloud partners, Dell matched Sunburst’s specific workloads with the most appropriate cloud solution. The solution is a partnership between Dell Services and ScaleMatrix, which provides advanced cloud services using revolutionary data center designs for top performance. Unlike many traditional public cloud providers, which often oversubscribe their resources, the Dell Cloud On Demand service can match customers like Sunburst to the right partner for cloud compute and storage — delivering the predictability, control and performance customers need.
ScaleMatrix Co-Founder Chris Orlando finds Elbaum’s situation increasingly common: “With Mark’s vast responsibilities, moving and upgrading his data center would have taken him from other priorities. That’s why more and more people engage Dell Services and ScaleMatrix to reduce IT overhead, while multiplying their capabilities via the cloud.” According to Elbaum, moving the company’s key virtualized applications — Exchange, Active Directory, Citrix and 12 others — to the cloud went smoothly over five weekends. “First we tried moving our VMs over the internet, but it was taking too long and risked lost connections, so we put them on USB drives we overnighted to Dell’s partner ScaleMatrix on Friday,” he says. “By Monday morning, we’d be up and running without a hitch.” Elbaum figures that his cloud approach saved the large capital costs that a data center relocation would have required. “By moving our data center to the cloud, we avoided capital costs using the Dell Cloud On Demand solution,” he says. He adds that his company is also saving operating expenses. “Compared to what our operating expenses would have been had we kept the data center, they’re now several hundred dollars a month less with the Dell Cloud On Demand service,” he says.
To manage his cloud-based ITaaS solution, Elbaum logs into a ScaleMatrix web portal that is accessible from just about anywhere, even his smartphone. “I manage it just like always,” he says. “I can see all my VMs, how they’re connected and set up, and whether they’re on or not, and I can remotely connect to them. If problems arise, I go to the portal. Other than that, you’d never know my servers were elsewhere.” Elbaum says his ITaaS solution provides faster performance and more uptime than his former data center, which had just a 10MB connection and was prone to outages. His services also include all maintenance, patches and upgrades, saving him time to focus on other responsibilities. “As I’m now ready for the future, I can focus on growing our business, while Dell runs our data center and IT operations in the cloud,” he says. “In effect, Dell is my staff.”
By Lyanne Esparza