WhiteSpider working with 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:
- Infrastructure resilience: It was known that an outage in the company’s manufacturing plants would result in significant financial and reputational damage.
- 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
- 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.
- Cost reduction: Even with an expanding IT infrastructure and new technology, the business needed to make cost savings.
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’.
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. 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.
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.
Compute and Storage
The options considered to deliver the performance, scalability and simplicity required were:
- Expansion of the HP solution
- Nutanix Hyperconverged
- Hyperflex, Cisco’s hyperconverged infrastructure.
To manage the ongoing operation of these new technologies.
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 purposebuilt, high-performance, low-latency hyperconverged platform that adapts to support any application, ocated 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 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:
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.
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.
The ‘in life’ operation of the network is managed by WhiteSpider. The support team manages the remediation of any faults, aswell 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.