In the late 1950s, United States Air Force Lt. Col. Carroll Payne worked closely with the families of several crew members who were killed in an aircraft accident. Saddened by the survivors’ financial difficulties, and eager to help other military families effectively prepare for their financial futures, Lt. Col. Payne began laying the groundwork for the company that would ultimately become First Command. Since then, First Command has grown, helping government and military families as they navigate through the unique changes and circumstances of their lives.
First Command continues to constantly look for ways to help improve the financial well-being of their customers but found that it was expensive to deploy each new IT application in order to support this. Kevin Dunn, VP for Business Information Services – Infrastructure and Operations, commented that “We had to buy new equipment to support every new development and testing project and the costs were often impossible to justify.” Rather than giving the business greater flexibility to support their customers – the provisioning of each new IT application was the bottleneck and would reduce operational efficiency.
After evaluating a number of available technologies – Dunn saw that Dell could deliver a virtualized infrastructure that would allow for them to provision IT resources on demand. The Dell virtualized environment was able to provide First Command a flexible pool of IT resources internally from which they were able to spin up a virtual machine to support projects in a matter of hours, and at no extra cost. They could ramp up two options on an application, choose the best option and then deploy. This took an 8 week process dramatically down to a matter of days or less.
To provide the connectivity needed for this environment, First Command deployed Dell Networking MXL 10/40 Gigabit Blade Switches and Dell Networking S4810 Top-of-Rack network switches alongside Dell Networking M6348 Ethernet Blade Switches in its M10000E server chassis. This provided 40 GB to the storage fabric, and 10G switching for east/west traffic giving extremely low latency across the virtualized infrastructure.
Dunn was particularly impressed with Dell’s ability to work with other partners and deliver a remarkably interoperable solution. The Dell Networking MXL and S4810 provide native support for VMware vSphere – making it fast and simple to build and deploy a virtualized server environment using VMWare with Dell able to fully represent and support the entire solution. Dunn comments “with Dell Networking, we’ve converged traffic from our fiber-channel and data networks onto a single, cost-effective, converged IP platform.”