Hector Lariveé boosts infrastructure capabilities and uptime

With IBM System x3690 X5 servers running virtualization software

Published on 15-May-2012

Validated on 01 Nov 2013

"If I had a choice between IBM and anything else, I'd stick with IBM." - George Lianos, system administrator, Hector Lariveé

Customer:
Hector Larivee

Industry:
Wholesale Distribution & Services

Deployment country:
Canada

Solution:
High Availability , Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

IBM Business Partner:
Insight Canada Inc.

Overview

Founded in 1940, Hector Lariveé is the largest distributor of a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in the Canadian food service industry and a leader in its field in North America. Located in Montreal, the company has more than 150 employees. Since Hector Lariveé is committed to delivering the highest quality produce, it employs the most current techniques in terms of handling, storage and distribution. The company is committed to sustainable development, as well as community outreach projects.

Business need:
Hector Lariveé needed a powerful, highly available computing system to keep their fresh produce distribution business running smoothly—from order processing to shipment tracking to their own IT apps.

Solution:
Hector Lariveé deployed two IBM System x® 3690 X5 servers powered by Intel® Xeon® processors, an IBM System Storage® TS3100 Tape Library Express Model and IBM System Storage DS3500 Express.

Benefits:
The IBM solution boosts processing times and lowers backup times, in a denser footprint; allows for failover and load-balancing between the two servers, making downtime negligible; and optimizes storage, scaling up to 96 drives.

Case Study

Founded in 1940, Hector Lariveé is the largest distributor of a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in the Canadian food service industry and a leader in its field in North America. Located in Montreal, the company has more than 150 employees. Since Hector Lariveé is committed to delivering the highest quality produce, it employs the most current techniques in terms of handling, storage and distribution. The company is committed to sustainable development, as well as community outreach projects.

Hector Lariveé has more than 3,000 customers, ranging from restaurants to hotels to schools to banquet halls. George Lianos, system administrator at the company, says, “It’s very competitive, but we manage. The chefs on the island of Montreal know that Hector Lariveé is the go-to company for fresh ingredients.”

Faster than a speeding vegetable

As the company’s business had steadily grown over the years, their aging, four-year-old computing system had steadily slowed. So to gain the performance necessary, the company upgraded—with the help of IBM Business Partner Insight—to two IBM System x3690 X5 servers running VMware ESX 4.1 virtualization software. Lianos says, “Now, there are about 40 systems virtualized on our servers. Those two hosts actually manage everything.”

The innovative and cost-efficient System x3690 X5 servers, designed to deliver four-processor performance with a two-processor investment, incorporate Intel Xeon processors and fifth-generation IBM X-Architecture® technology. By purchasing a system with two instead of four processors, Hector Lariveé lowered their licensing costs and energy usage—which lowered their total cost of ownership.

And they didn’t have to trade performance for a denser form factor—in fact, the company has been thrilled with the server performance, which is twice as powerful as their previous system. As Lianos puts it, “Honestly, one server would have been able to handle the whole load. We got two to have redundancy, but one can handle everything.” In addition, processing speed has noticeably improved. “Everybody's happy that logins, email, everything is much quicker.”

Backups are also faster—a lot faster. Lianos says the entire company's emails can be backed up and verified in 20 minutes. “The first time I saw that I was quite surprised, because usually my backups take about 10 hours to complete. I'm pulling off backups in the middle of the day and nobody's realizing that I'm even backing up stuff. I can pretty much run three backups a day, and nobody's going to be affected.”

The System x3690 X5 servers also feature greater flexibility to help meet the company’s changing workload demands as their business continues to grow.

A fresh take on availability

How important is high availability to a fresh produce distributor? Try all important. Distributing the freshest fruits and vegetables is a fast-paced business, and according to Lianos, turnaround is tight—nothing stays in the warehouse for more than 48 hours. He says, “Orders come in the morning and have to be sent out in the afternoon.” In order to keep track of orders that arrive 365 days a year, 24x7, Hector Lariveé needs to be able to count on their system—it basically needs to be up and running all the time.

Their new system allows for failover and load-balancing between the two System x3690 X5 servers. Lianos gives the following example of how well the full redundancy is working: “One day, one of our consultants accidentally unplugged one of the [System x3690 X5] servers, and everything was automatically transferred onto the other X5 server—it all continued to work fine. We basically had a downtime of maybe 20 seconds…which is quite phenomenal, if you think about it.”

He adds, “It's pretty much a bullet-proof system at this point.”

Expanding storage space

Their old system had also run extremely low on disk space, so Hector Lariveé added an IBM System Storage TS3100 Tape Library Express Model—an ideal choice for large-capacity, high-performance tape backup and automation—as well as the IBM System Storage DS3500 Express, a cost-effective, fully integrated complement to IBM System x servers. As they can now scale up to 96 drives, the company no longer has to fear running out of storage space with these expandable, highly secure storage devices.

All IBM, all the time

Lianos is a big IBM fan, and Hector Lariveé is wall-to-wall IBM—“There are no other brands in-house,” he says—and for good reason. “Basically my whole network infrastructure is run by IBM systems—our tracking software for the truck drivers; our SQL and mail servers; anti-virus servers; Microsoft Windows updates; our Wiki; our Web server; everything is being run by the new IBM systems.”

He says, “The IBM servers are workhorses, they are amazing, in my opinion. You know, they take a beating and they just keep on going.”

Besides the high system performance, the company has also had great experiences with IBM services. “We have been really happy with the services that IBM provides, whether it's just regular support on desktops, laptops, server side, whatever it is,” says Lianos.

So will IBM be a part of Hector Lariveé’s long-term plans, as the company continues to grow with the market? If Lianos has his way, there’s no question. “If I had a choice between IBM and anything else, I'd stick with IBM. My first choice would be IBM. You don't have to sell me on it, you tell me it works and I'll buy right away. That's how convinced I am with IBM products.”

For more information

Contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/x

For more information about Hector Lariveé, visit: hectorlarivee.com/indexEN.html

For more information about IBM Business Partner Insight, visit: www.insight.com

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Storage: DS3500 Express, Storage: TS3100 Tape Library, System x: System x3690 X5

Software:
VMware vSphere Hypervisor 4.1 U1 with IBM Customization

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 Produced in the United States of America May 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, System Storage, System x and X-Architecture are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon and Xeon Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Microsoft, Windows and Windows NT are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.