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With every executive briefing and workshop that I participate in that includes a tour of our Advanced Technology Center (ATC), I see the same look of amazement that I first experienced when joining WWT on the faces of our attendees. Whether they are customers or partners, their body language transformation from the beginning to the end of the tour is very noticeable and goes along these lines:

  1. Arms crossed: Great, another one of these.
  2. Chin stroke: Hmm, well this is interesting.
  3. Eyes wide open: I'm sorry you did what?
  4. Head Nods: You have $500 million worth of gear in there?!
  5. Hands in the air: I can test ALL OF THIS?!!
  6. Jumping up and down: I want…no, NEED one!!!

I recently joined WWT as the hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) practice lead within WWT's data center infrastructure practice. For the uninitiated, HCI is a type of IT infrastructure that is based on software-defined components that tightly integrates compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources in a single pre-configured appliance. One of the major contributors to my decision to join the WWT team was the ATC. While I understood it to be a center for innovation, I didn't fully understand the breadth of its lab capabilities until getting immersed into the WWT culture.

Discovering WWT's lab capabilities

Sure, most VARs have "labs," but previous experiences have tainted my view of these labs to only consist of gear that has blinky, three-year-old lights with failed drives. And the unfortunate part about this fact is that it has painted the same picture for OEM partners.

Not so fast, my friend!

Fortunately for us, our partners can see and feel the value our ATC brings to our customers, so we're able to acquire the latest gear, often before general availability.

In the last twelve months alone we've brought in $2 million worth of hardware. Yep, not a typo. TWO MILLION DOLLARS — and this is HCI hardware alone. This does not include the software licenses for the HCI gear nor does it include other technologies that don't fall into the HCI realm. Many of the HCI technologies have also been integrated (or can be) around other aspects of the data center, such as software-defined networking, automation and orchestration and disaster recovery.

Here's a listing in no particular order of the gear we have in our HCI lab:

  1. Cisco HyperFlex
  2. Dell EMC VxRail
  3. VMware vSAN
  4. Nutanix
  5. NetApp HCI
  6. SimpliVity
  7. HPE

The environments mentioned above are consistently booked for proofs of concept with customers looking to test anything from feature functionality, performance and scale, to ease of use and manageability.

Why you should use our labs

Take a moment to think about this. How much time would it take your IT department to:

  1. Talk to vendors. <insert meeting(s) here>
  2. Have them go through the process of getting gear to the data center. <insert more meetings here>
  3. Find room in a rack. <internal meeting?>
  4. Schedule a last minute meeting because something was forgotten. <what else was potentially overlooked…meetings>
  5. Get the networking team to get a segregated environment. <meetings about meetings>
  6. Deploy the appliance. <potential support call meetings>
  7. Start testing. <oops, we didn't have meetings about what to test and how to test it because it depends!>

Tired of reading the list above? Compare that list to the steps that are needed when working with WWT:

  1. Participate in WWT's HCI Workshop. During this workshop, you'll discuss different vendors, use cases, features, etc. and may even avoid a proof of concept all together!
  2. Tell us which vendors you want included.
  3. Tell us what you want to test. If you don't know, our ATC team can help guide you based on our experiences.

We've shortened customer decision making from months to weeks by following the steps above. Our dedicated ATC team keeps our environments up to date by working directly with our partners for the latest gear, code releases and optimal configuration. We conduct more than 200 proofs of concept each year within the data center practice, so we understand how to solve the challenges that are presented when setting up new test environments.

If you want to learn more about our lab capabilities or would like to schedule a workshop, please reach out to your account team or contact us here.