Interview: Net App Storage Powers New Business for Chicago-based Web Services Provider (Video)

Earlier this month, our Storage Practice Manager, Shawn Wagner, sat down with Karl Zimmerman, President and Founder of Steadfast Networks, to discuss the NetApp storage and backup solution we recently designed and deployed for their business’s datacenter in Chicago.

With the cameras rolling, their conversation addressed the reasons for deciding on NetApp, relative to other manufacturer’s technologies or developing a in-house solution, and how that decision and the NetApp technology is enabling Steadfast to drive new business and offer expanded solutions to their existing customers.

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What was the primary business driver for you to move forward with the NetApp technology?

Well, we’ve been looking to build more of a sort of cloud solution—we don’t necessarily like to call it “cloud,” but that’s basically the solution. And we needed to back that up with a very redundant storage solution that we knew we could trust. We generally like building things in house; we’re very hands on ourselves. But in house, we couldn’t really build a solution that developed the performance and reliability that we were able to get with NetApp, and NetApp was able to do it for us at an affordable price.

With respect to IDS in general, how do you see our partnership moving forward?

With IDS specifically, we appreciate that it’s someone who’s always there we can contact. There are always people we can get in touch if we need help on certain aspects of the NetApp infrastructure that we don’t understand—we know that support is there. If we run into problems, which we have already, you guys are there to help us through those. It’s nice just knowing we have the strong, reliable partner that we can depend on.

I’d like to end on just a couple of forward thinking questions, one of which is where do you see your business going over the next 18 to 24 months now having made this investment in NetApp?

We’ve seen a higher demand in general for cloud applications where people are moving things away from their own internal datacenters or their own in-office solutions, and moving them to a datacenter environment—so, of course, it could be accessed across their entire company, or have the additional ability of scale. So this NetApp solution allows us a lot to focus on that segment and we can then offer the scalability of a virtualized environment, while having the cost savings and additional processing power you can achieve with dedicated systems and collocation as well. With NetApp, we now serve a wide variety of needs across a broad spectrum of customers at basically whatever price point or scalability they need. And that of course is then all backed up with a NetApp SAN for the storage side—it’s a common storage system for all these systems. It lets us easily scale and expand for whatever the customer might need.

And one final question: in respect to business continuity and disaster recovery, what possibilities have opened up for you and your clients with NetApp?

NetApp is certainly helpful with the snapshots and also being able to replicate the data to multiple sites; it makes it a lot easier, because we do have multiple data centers. Being able to replicate that data and back it up easily with the snapshots helps us to easily integrate customer redundancy and disaster recovery plans into our existing infrastructure—it’s certainly something that the home-built solutions we were looking at doing didn’t allow us to provide so easily. And it’s certainly one of the reasons along with the reliability and the speed of the NetApp solution that led us to that decision.