Ocean State Job Lot Accommodates Future Expansion

Introduction
Since opening its first store in North Kingstown, RI, in 1977, Ocean State Job Lot has established a reputation for selling brand name, first-quality products at affordable prices. Over the years, the company has seen explosive growth, and currently has 116 stores in eight states in the Northeast part of the United States. But with that growth has come a challenge – how to ensure that its IT infrastructure can scale to support day-to-day operations and continuous expansion.

Finding the right solution fell to Jeff Mehrmanesh, Ocean State Job Lot’s director of IT, and his team. Their task was to find a partner that could deliver a resilient and secure infrastructure solution that reduced risks, while providing the flexibility and scalability required to address the growing needs of the business. Their choice – a TierPoint custom tailored hybrid cloud/colocation and managed service solution that ensures an agile infrastructure capable of supporting current needs and future business expansion.

According to Mehrmanesh, one of his key concerns revolved around the centralized nature of Ocean State’s IT infrastructure. “Having our entire infrastructure in a central location close to our headquarters worked in the past, but as our business grew, we knew we were putting our business at risk,” he stated. “With a growing network of services, we were concerned about the impact on our stores and our productivity if any infrastructure component was unavailable for even a couple of hours.”

For example, communications between the stores and the back-office was a major concern, since there was a strong dependency on always available Internet connectivity. Since the current infrastructure served as a single point of contact for all communications, any failure could have serious consequences to productivity and customer service.

And previous experience showed that when a major problem occurred, its current provider could take four to six hours to resolve the issue. At the same time, the business was supported by multiple virtual machines. With a normal upgrade cycle approaching for its server and storage environment, Mehrmanesh began thinking about ways to build stronger redundancies, security, and resiliency into the entire IT infrastructure.

“We knew we had to eliminate the risks that are inherent in a single-point-of-contact infrastructure,” said Mehrmanesh. “At the same time, we wanted to build in redundancy through data replication services and ensure the availability of our critical data via ongoing backups and disaster recovery services. As important, we wanted to improve flexibility in our software testing, development, and monitoring.”

With its goals established, Mehrmanesh and his team went in search of the right partner. As a musician who played in a band for five years, Mehrmanesh understands that it takes teamwork, creativity and openness to new ideas to be successful. He takes that same creative approach to IT – encouraging his team to come up with new ways of solving challenges. He looks for the same level of creativity in the vendors he works with.

“We are a very dynamic company, and we need partners that are as dynamic and flexible as we are,” explained Mehrmanesh. “We looked at a number of vendors, but felt that only TierPoint could deliver a cost-effective, custom-tailored solution to support our current and future requirements. TierPoint enabled us to look at each part of the solution and align it to our business and IT needs.”

Ocean State Job Lot and TierPoint embarked on a six-month design and development process that featured a hybrid cloud and colocation solution. Ocean State leveraged their own storage array that was still relatively new, and a set of TierPoint-managed hosts in an N+1 cluster. This allowed TierPoint to provision and manage the host infrastructure from the physical layer up to and including operating system management and patch management, while Ocean State Job Lot maintained full control of the connection into their dedicated storage. This gave them comfort in making the leap into cloud and provided the right level of flexibility for disaster recovery and quality assurance.

They also engaged the resources at TierPoint’s Marlborough, MA facility for replication services as well as to use colocation cabinets, storage, high-speed networking and highly-available internet bandwidth and firewalls.

According to Mehrmanesh, Ocean State Job Lot wasn’t the only one impressed with the solution. An analyst with Gartner reviewed all aspects of the TierPoint contract, including terms, conditions and pricing, and concluded it was among the top managed services proposal they had seen.

For Mehrmanesh, TierPoint’s ability to mix services, as well as the high level of support from TierPoint personnel, ensures an agile infrastructure aligned to the business. “We run our IT department with limited resources, so our partner must be able to provide predictable and reliable services – and TierPoint delivers that,” said Mehrmanesh. “The ability to quickly and efficiently make adjustments to our infrastructure components, like adding more storage, was extremely important. At the same time, TierPoint ensures that those services are delivered at a great cost savings.”

Those attributes have already come in handy. Shortly after deploying the TierPoint solution, Ocean State Job Lot had a minor internet incident at its corporate headquarters. Failover to the TierPoint network ensured business continuity. Based on the results, the company is already in talks with TierPoint to expand the internet services it provides.

“An analyst with Gartner reviewed all aspects of the TierPoint contract, including terms, conditions and pricing, and concluded it was among the top managed services proposal they had seen.”

Jeff Mehrmanesh

IT Director, Ocean State Job Lot

AT A GLANCE

Industry
Retail

Technology
Cloud Computing & Colocation Services

Challenge
Regional retailer wanted to eliminate risks inherent in a single-point-of-contact infrastructure and ensure that access to their services and data was available 24/7.

Solution
TierPoint provided a hybrid cloud service that leveraged the strengths of colocation and cloud services.

Results
Ocean State Job Lot now has a flexible solution to address growing needs and a business continuity solution to ensure no loss of data.

Website
www.oceanstatejoblot.com