Grande Communications, a Texas-based broadband communications company, needed to make some changes in its data storage system. Grande provides residential and business customers with a full suite of Internet, TV and phone services for through its state-of-the-art, high-capacity, hybrid fiber-optic network.
Since its launch in 2003, Grande’s business and residential customers base had grown and so had its data storage needs. Grande had expanded to serve 150,000 subscribers in the communities of Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Midland, Odessa, San Antonio, San Marcos and Waco via its 5,000 miles of fiber networks.
“We had a technology mish mash,” said Richard Fogle, the IT Director for Grande. “Technology is our business but servers were not our priority. We had added in a very sporadic way—like a patchwork quilt.”
As they grew, Grande added data centers and servers to quickly answer needs, but the systems were varied and required excessive management time.
“We were living on borrowed time. We knew we needed a new platform, but we needed to save money too,” said Fogle. “Deciding what the next step was for our company was a huge decision for us.”
Fortunately for the Grande Communications’ IT staff, Freeit Data Solutions stepped in and provided a long-term solution with enhanced technology, better support and unlimited scalability. Now Grande has a new data center to forge ahead into the future.
Challenge: Infrastructure for a Growing Business Division
In addition to residential customers, Grande serves businesses of all sizes, government offices, colleges and universities with a host of services, including internet, local and long distance voice, and private networking needs. With the business growing rapidly, Grande needed to provide faster data to its 3,000 small business and enterprise customers. These customers needed easy and immediate access to billing data. But there was a problem—the data was slow to access.
“You know how you are on a phone call and you ask a question about your bill, the customer service person may ask you to hold a minute while the system finds your data?” said Fogle. “Our data managers would ask the system for a report and while it ran, they would go and fix themselves a cup of coffee. When they got back to their desk, it still might not be ready yet. It was evident we needed to fix this problem.”
With discrepant software and servers, Grande needed a solution for a cohesive new system to streamline and upgrade its business enterprise system and keep customers happy at the same time.
Freeit went to work to evaluate Grande’s technology needs and design a customized solution to deliver stronger performance from Grande’s IT system.
With more than 15 years of experience in IT consulting for SLED (State and Local/Education) organizations and corporations, Freeit was well-versed in the needs of Grande and its customers. Freeit collaborated with Grande’s IT team and designed a common storage platform to solve their challenges.
“Part of our job was to help Grande see other systems at work so they could start to envision their own updated system,” said Wayne Orchid, Freeit. “We took the staff to visit some of our other customers so they could hear the lessons others learned when creating a customized system. Once we had an idea of what Grande was looking for, we got to work designing a unique customized solution to solve its IT issues.”
“The goal was to design a system that gave the company higher availability with no downtime and better performance,” said Orchid.
Not only did Freeit design the system, the system was implemented with no service interruption in service so Grande could continue delivering to its customers during the switch.
Today, Grande Communication’s enterprise customers are reaping the benefits of the upgrade with faster data access times and less downtime. Grande is poised for future growth thanks to their new storage system that is both scalable and easy to manage.
“Our new, faster, and considerably more stable billing system has had a big impact,” said Fogle. “I’m very happy with the results. Now our service managers run a report and they get it in 30 seconds. That’s helping us dramatically improve our customer service.”
Grande’s IT staff can work with peace of mind, thanks in part to improved disaster recovery systems. And, as an added-value, the company is poised for future growth.