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Large Supermarket Chain Fills Its Cart with Resilience and Reliability from Infoblox

“The solution we had was just absolutely horrible to manage. It wasn’t reliable. It wasn’t redundant. These qualities should be a given for networks but we didn’t have them. The Infoblox Grid could give us resiliency, and the capability to recover.” — Network Supervisor


The customer is a large, privately owned supermarket chain in California. Although the chain is a billion-dollar concern, it has a very small IT shop.


A Cobbled Together System Causing Costly Outages
The food retailer had BIND for Domain Name System (DNS) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) services and a mixture of DNS and DHCP utilities that came bundled with its commodity servers. There was also a UNIX component that was confusing even for the UNIX administrator, who was constantly making mistakes.

Patching this technology hodge-podge was always a big problem. The IT organization’s expert in the commodity server operating system was overwhelmed with his core responsibilities and never had the time to get DHCP working right. “It was chaos,” says the company’s Network Supervisor, who is responsible for data and voice communications for the enterprise, including retail, warehousing, corporate, and partners. “We had outages left and right.”


Customer: Large Supermarket Chain

Industry: Retail

Location: North America

Objective: Replace patchwork system of DNS and DHCP services, Recoup lost revenue from costly outages, Roll out alongside VoIP deployment

Results: Disaster recovery capabilities and greater resilience, Improved stability, agility, and visibility, IT credibility with stakeholders

Products: NIOS DDI, NetMRI

Dollars were being dropped every day because of interrupted customer transactions and other problems tied to bad DNS resolution and failures in dynamic addressing. With a voice-over IP (VoIP) initiative under way, this was considered unacceptable, so the small IT team turned to Infoblox.


High-Availability Appliances Replicating Data Across the Retail Chain
“I sold it internally as a way to help roll our VoIP projects out faster,” says the Network Supervisor. “I wanted to make it easy because the solution we had was just absolutely horrible to manage. It wasn’t reliable. It wasn’t redundant. These qualities should be a given for networks but we didn’t have them. The Infoblox Grid could give us resiliency and the capability to recover.”

The team took Infoblox for a test drive and came away from it convinced that Infoblox appliance—running NIOS DDI and linked by Infoblox Grid technology into a centrally managed, redundant, high-availability network—was exactly what they needed.

The IT team deployed the appliances in high-availability (HA) pairs in its stores, corporate administrative facilities, and warehouses. Using Grid capabilities, they are replicating important DNS and DHCP data across all locations and at an additional “hot site.” This means that network administrators can access up-to-date files at any location, and if a location goes down, they can restore the data with the click of a button.

The company also purchased NetMRI network automation and management software, replacing a product from a major IT management software vendor that had strong configuration management capabilities but delivered limited insight into network detail. “We had been looking for a long time for a solution that would give us everything our current network management product did,” the Network Supervisor says, “yet, could extend our reporting functionality. Only one solution stood out to us and that was NetMRI. It was also reasonably priced compared to products we had had in the past.”


A Centrally-Managed Solution that the Entire Network Relies On
The Network Supervisor pitched Infoblox internally as a way to help roll out VoIP projects because there was a lot of money riding on that project and Infoblox could simplify it. Once Infoblox was in place, the company quickly began to see other benefits. Stability improved, the IT organization started building out applications quicker, and IT credibility with its stakeholders began to build. And the Infoblox Grid delivered resilience and the ability to recover in an emergency, protecting the company’s processes and revenue.

Now the entire environment depends on NIOS DDI. NetMRI has greatly improved visibility into what is happening on the network, and the Network Supervisor expects it to reduce the effort involved in collecting information for an upcoming audit from three or four days to a few hours. And since Infoblox partners with the company’s GPS vendor, NetMRI is even being used as a central point for time synchronization.

“Now, I couldn’t imagine not having Infoblox,” says the Network Supervisor. “If we lost it, we wouldn’t be able to do anything.”

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