With more than 500 locations around the world, 10 subsidiary companies and around 15,000 employees, staffing company Allegis Group has a large and sophisticated IT environment. The company is building a flexible, secure, cloud-ready data center with a full stack of VMware solutions for virtualization, backup, security, cloud automation and containers.
Automated, Intelligent Skyline Support
Around the time that the infamous Spectre and Meltdown microprocessor vulnerabilities became public knowledge, the VMware support team contacted Allegis Group with a new support opportunity: VMware Skyline. Matthew Szewczyk, Compute and Storage Team Lead for Allegis Group, noted that the timing was perfect. “We had just upgraded our ELA to a business-critical support model. They offered us Skyline, and we jumped on it,” said Szewczyk. “I immediately saw the value, especially on the heels of those vulnerabilities.”
Skyline automates data collection in VMware environments and improves visibility, allowing customers to proactively address issues such as patches and security vulnerabilities. Allegis Group already had a policy of patching quarterly and to keep up with critical fixes as they were deployed. But “Skyline allows us to be proactive instead of reactive, especially with the security temperature a lot higher these days,” said Szewczyk. “Now, on-demand, we get a much better idea of the importance of each fix. It saves time, and gives us a much more controlled scenario when we’re trying to schedule maintenance.”
Szewczyk continues, “VMware Skyline deployment and data collection has been seamless. It gives us early insight into issues that might arise, including zero-day exploits and vulnerabilities, so we know ahead of time which drivers and patches we need. It makes the business safer.”
Easy-to-Use Virtualization and Disaster Recovery Solutions
Szewczyk and his team also rely on the built-in security features in VMware vSphere 6.7 to protect the Allegis Group environment. VM-level encryption, for example, was especially useful as the company worked to comply with the EU’s GDPR requirements. “Encrypting VMs using storage policies was very attractive to us because data can be safeguarded at rest and in motion across the enterprise,” said Szewczyk.
Szewczyk called out the vSphere Quick Boot feature, and the HTML5-based interface in vSphere and across related solutions. “HTML5 is great because we’re in that interface every day and it’s much easier to use,” he said. “Quick Boot takes patching time down tremendously. Instead of waiting for huge hosts of 512 gigs of RAM to do a full memory check, we just restart the hypervisor and you’re back up in a matter of minutes.”
For software-defined disaster recovery, Allegis Group uses VMware Site Recovery Manager for 400 VMs with 120 terabytes’ worth of data. “It’s a pretty rock-solid product,” said Szewczyk. “We like the features of vSphere 6.7, the newer vSphere replication agent and the newer SRM interface. We’ve always done traditional SAN-to-SAN replications. With the new vSphere application, I’m poised to start pushing data up into the public cloud, if that’s where we decide to go.”
Going Faster with IaaS and Containers
Allegis Group has a vision for a fully automated private cloud using VMware vRealize Automation. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) development is underway, underpinning new software projects that help Allegis Group developers support the business more quickly. “We’re asked to deliver faster and faster from an enterprise operations standpoint,” said Szewczyk. “In fact, public cloud companies are my competitors. When we can’t get infrastructure delivered in a few hours, folks at our subsidiary companies say, ‘why can’t we just put this on Amazon or Azure?’ We’re losing business at that point, and then I won’t have a job!”
Szewczyk noted that since the company purchased vRealize Automation, “We’re farther along in eight months than we got in five years with a different vendor. As new opportunities open up in EMEA and APAC, we need to be able to have the same experiences and agility for infrastructure across all our companies. No matter where you are around the world, you should be able to push a button and have infrastructure spin up on prem. Couple that with our internal software teams moving to a DevOps model, everything is about speed, and vRealize Automation is helping us get there.”
VMware vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) is a key part of that go-fast IaaS and DevOps model. Allegis Group’s app teams develop for several large software deployments, including Elasticsearch, Oracle PeopleSoft and Microsoft SharePoint, to support and create apps for recruiting offices around the world. Their first successful use case with VIC so far is with the software testing suite Selenium. “We were able to cut a set of 225 tests from 17 hours to 1 hour after moving it to a VIC environment,” said Szewczyk. “It’s really increased the efficiency of QA testing. We’re currently partnering with VMware to get an enterprise Elasticsearch stack deployed in VIC, and I’m really excited about that. It would save a tremendous amount of money in infrastructure costs because it’s a very large environment but only really used twice a month. When we can have on-demand infrastructure, we won’t have to maintain such a big footprint.”
Szewczyk summed up his company’s success with VMware by remarking how VMware solutions have come along to meet Allegis Group’s needs over the years. “Ten years ago when I was using vSphere 3.5, no one was thinking of network virtualization and all that the company offers now. And the bottom line is that we don’t have to support a thousand physical servers to run our production environment. The infrastructure savings are incredible.”