The Chicago Bears say they scored a major win with Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).
In July 2017, the football team’s IT department deployed Nutanix Enterprise Cloud software for its mission-critical applications, including Microsoft SQL Server databases, financial reporting software, and an internally-developed player scouting application.
“We were running on three-tier infrastructure before, and IT was starting to become a bottleneck of the organization” said Justin Stahl, VP of information technology for the Chicago Bears. “We needed flexibility and scalability.”
After conducting an IT assessment, the team concluded that the existing infrastructure was over-allocated. “We knew we wanted to go with a hyperconverged model to give us a holistic view of our systems,” said Jignesh Patel, manager infrastructure and storage of the Chicago Bears.
In addition to Nutanix HCI, the team considered Simplivity, which was being bought by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). It wasn’t sure what the acquisition meant for Simplivity’s HCI and wanted to go live before training camp started in late July. And the organization was already using VMware vSphere, which runs on Nutanix.
Plus, said Stahl, Nutanix really understood the idea of hybrid cloud. The Bears wanted to run some workloads in the public cloud and some on premises using the same management interface across environments. The company’s Prism management software provides this unified control plane.
The system went live July 1, 2017.
Saving Time, Improving Performance
Switching to Nutanix simplified IT and improved performance, the team said. Apps run faster and the IT staff receives fewer help desk tickets.
While the Bears IT department can’t put a dollar amount on the savings they’ve recouped since switching to Nutanix HCI, “the time savings has been huge,” said Patel.
Previously it took a couple of hours for the IT staff to spin up virtual machines (VMs). “With the traditional three-tier infrastructure, I would have to spend hours seeing what kind of resource availability I had,” he said. With Nutanix, they can get spin up a VM in a matter of minutes.
The Prism management software also simplifies IT reporting by providing a complete picture of what the current storage and service environment looks like and how it is performing.
And because the Enterprise Cloud software run on premises, as well as across multi-and hybrid cloud environments, the team no longer has to physically transport servers for training camp. This would take a full day driving them from the main office at the Chicago Bears’ Halas Hall headquarters (pictured) in Lake Forest, Illinois, to the training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois — about 90 miles away.
“The biggest thing for us is that our IT department has drastically changed our reputation,” Stahl said. “We’re now seen as enablers of the future of the club.”
Da Bears Future
In the near future, the team plans to switch from VMware’s hypervisor to Nutanix’s hypervisor, which it trialed at the main office at Halas Hall. It says this will eliminate separate licensing costs and found the Nutanix technology easier to use than the VMware hypervisor.
The Bears have signed up to be on the Beta list for the Xi disaster recovery service. Xi refers to the company’s public cloud service that allows customers to move on-premises workloads to the cloud. It is slated for release this year, and the first service offered will enable Nutanix customers to set-up and manage cloud-based disaster recovery.