ACI Multi-pod & Hyperflex with Managed Services

Berry Global

Berry Global is a leading global design and engineering company in plastic products.


Berry Global is today a global design and engineering company in packaging and protection solutions. The group has nearly 50,000 staff with operations in 33 countries with no fewer than 290 locations, providing a geographical footprint that allows it to operate close to its customers.


In 2019 Berry Global undertook the purchase of Berry Global, one of Europe's largest supplier of plastic packaging and a turnover of £4bn, which expanded its reach from a predominantly American operation, to a truly global operation with a significant number of locations in each continent.


The group turned over $12bn in 2019.


Berry Global’s European Operations

Berry Global has manufacturing operations across many European countries. Being a supplier of plastic packaging for the food industry, where shelf life can be limited and stock turnover rapid, the resilience of its operations is critical.


In 2018, Berry (RPC at the time) had made significant investments in new HP compute and storage in the form of ProLiant and 3PAR. This improved business performance, and the intention was to migrate all workloads to this new hardware and have it provisioned in an architecture that it could easily assimilate other applications and services that were at the time hosted at remote sites. With continued business growth the IT team saw that that additional capacity and greater resilience was needed to be built into the infrastructure. They also needed to reduce the underlying complexity that had resulted from multiple mergers and acquisitions.


“The existing system we’ve been operating from for several years has, so far, met the demands of business as we’ve grown, both in terms of number of devices and higher demands on applications,” said Roger Mann, Berry Global’s Infrastructure Architect. “However, we needed more capacity and a simpler, more resilient network as the infrastructure was becoming more complex to manage and harder to control”.


Specific challenges the company was looking to overcome:


  1. Infrastructure resilience: It was known that an outage in the company’s manufacturing plants would result in significant financial and reputational damage.
  2. Simplification: Growth and acquisition had resulted in multiple technologies and a complex network. The cost and challenge of operating this was becoming a significant burden
  3. Transformation: The business was looking for an IT solution that could support rapid change and growth enabling the IT team to be more responsive to busines requirements.
  4. Cost reduction: Even with an expanding IT infrastructure and new technology, the business needed to make cost savings.

WhiteSpider’s approach

The initial work undertaken by WhiteSpider focused around Berry Global’s current data centre (DC) setup. They had confirmed in the initial discussions that the existing DC solution caused concern due to its potential resilience and the scalability required of their growing infrastructure. WhiteSpider carried out a detailed audit, which investigated both the technology (the infrastructure, configuration, architecture and usage etc) and the people (requirements, experience and expectations of a modern IT service).


This highlighted several areas of improvement to enable the busines to adapt to meet modern-day demands as required by a data centre within any organisation. These included:


  • Users of Berry Global’s network wanting a more flexible solution.
  • Higher expectations for reliability and speed.
  • The need to reduce downtime at any point, both planned and unplanned.
  • The understanding that the HP solution was not sufficient to support the growth and change in the business.
  • The need for the IT team to focus on ‘transformation’ rather than ‘operation’.

The new HP Compute equipment has only helped get us so far, therefore we now need to look into ways to adapt this further and better-prepare our infrastructure to be even more future-proof.

A NEW LEADER IN SD-WAN

WhiteSpider recognised as a world leader for our Software-Defined capabilities.

The solution

To help address the issues they said they were experiencing, and potentially could experience in the future, Berry Global and WhiteSpider investigated different technology options. For each of these, the requirements of the business, and the solution capabilities were compared to select the solutions:


  1. Data Centre Network: The only viable solutions that were considered for the business’s requirements for resilience and scalability were VMWare’s NSX and Cisco’s ACI.
  2. Compute and Storage: The options considered to deliver the performance, scalability and simplicity required were:
    1. Expansion of the HP solution
    2. Nutanix Hyperconverged
    3. Hyperflex, Cisco’s hyperconverged infrastructure.
  3. Managed Service to manage the ongoing operation of these new technologies.

Berry Global selected Cisco HX with Cisco ACI Multi-pod as the solution. They also requested that WhiteSpider design, deploy, migrate and then manage the full solution.

The outcome

Once the technologies were selected, WhiteSpider helped Berry Global transition from its current DC network to Cisco’s ACI Multi-Pod solution. As part of their requirements, Berry Global stated that this transition must be completed with as little downtime to their current network as possible. By working closely with Roger and his team, WhiteSpider was able to ensure this was adhered to, undertaking a number of migration workshops and planning days to define migration strategy and plan. There is much reason to operate across an ACI multi-pod solution, and in Berry Global’s case, WhiteSpider was able to work with the interconnected ACI networks so the solution aligned with the company’s policy on disaster avoidance and business continuance.


Cisco’s HyperFlex solution also formed part of the solution. This included the construction of a purpose-built, high-performance, low-latency hyperconverged platform that adapts to support any application, located in any cloud, from anywhere. This solution also complements the ACI multi-pod technology. Hyperflex unifies the ACI fabric network, even in the multi-pod setup which Berry Global is running, this will make it easier for them, and WhiteSpider to monitor and manage going forward.


To successfully assist Berry Global, WhiteSpider was able to implement the solution in an efficient, low risk and appropriately managed manner that follows internal frameworks which ensure projects are completed to the satisfaction of the customer, whilst addressing their business needs.

The impact of the new ACI platform has quickly been felt across Berry Global’s network, and its ambitious plans for enhancing services to staff are now possible with the new solution.

Roger Mann, Infrastructure Architect

Ongoing operations

The deployment of the new solutions enabled the IT team at Berry Global to improve resilience, simplify the infrastructure and enable scalability. Further, these ‘software defined’ technologies have enabled Berry Global to centralise operations and enhance security.


Berry Global was, however, faced with a transformation in terms of operation and management of the new solutions. In order to ensure their team was not overly stretched by having to learn how to operate the new technologies and invest in new management tools, Berry Global appointed WhiteSpider to operate the ACI and HX technologies.


WhiteSpider’s service provides Berry Global with a number of key capabilities:


  1. Device Management and Protection
    WhiteSpider has taken ownership of the management of each device, ensuring that any vulnerabilities raised by the vendor are immediately identified, reported on and – where necessary – acted on. Device lifecycle is tracked and managed, ensuring there is appropriate vendor support in place for each device where required by the customer. This is all provided through WhiteSpider’s custom developed automated service.
  2. Enhanced Visibility and Insights
    WhiteSpider’s API driven monitoring solutions have been custom developed for software defined solutions, where large amounts of data are collected and correlated to provide real time and predictive insights across the infrastructure.
  3. Operational Support
    The ‘in life’ operation of the network is managed by WhiteSpider. The support team manages the remediation of any faults, as well as undertaking any changes. Usually changes are requested by Berry Global, but sometimes by WhiteSpider. The WhiteSpider support team follows Berry Global’s change process to implement any necessary changes or software upgrades.
  4. Service Assurance
    With the large investment made in ACI and Hyperflex, it is critical that the service delivers on expected outcomes. WhiteSpider’s assurance services include:
    • Service Management, where we report on the ongoing performance of the technology and service provided
    • Configuration management where the configuration of each device is saved and managed
    • Technical Design helpdesk, which provide Berry Global with direct access to subject matter experts to ensure any proposed or planned transformation will achieve the expected outcomes.

The service is designed to take the pressure off Berry Global’s internal IT teams and outsource the management of the infrastructure to WhiteSpider allowing Berry Global to progress and develop its infrastructure further. It now means WhiteSpider will actively be monitoring Berry Global’s ACI and Hyperflex solutions for any fault and performance issues, provide support with their hardware issues connected to these and monitor the latest releases from Cisco providing Berry Global with advice on the best routes to take to develop their infrastructure in line with their business needs.


“WhiteSpider’s support team provides an extra ‘in-house’ team monitoring and managing on our new ACI and Hyperflex solutions,” said Roger. “It has made the transition to the new solutions seamless, relatively painless. With the SLAs WhiteSpider provides – and team we trust in the background – we are confident of our ability to provide a stable, efficient and scalable service to our business.”

About WhiteSpider

Established in 2012, WhiteSpider specialises in providing consultancy, strategic advice, and practical support in enterprise service architectures. The company helps organisations to standardise their IT and communications infrastructures by using a unique new service framework – ea4 – developed specifically with the needs of global enterprises in mind. Headquartered in the UK, WhiteSpider works with global companies across a range of industry sectors, including financial services, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, construction and motorsport.

Let's chat

We're always happy to discuss a new project and how we can help going forward.