When it comes to HCI management, there are few people who have a better sense of the decision-making implications than Chris Stanley. An IT manager for 11 years, Chris worked in a range of industries including macadamia nut farming and IT retail before arriving in hospitality at Celtic Manor Resort. “One thing I’ve learned in hospitality,” Chris says, “is that everything relies on IT. Each department has different needs and it’s our job as an IT department to manage and streamline them all.”
Chris told CONVERGED that he’s only recently begun looking at backend systems over the last few years. When he started at Celtic Manor, Dell EMC solutions were being run over HP with no real strategy in place; each of the different components were owned by different account managers and none of them were implemented with the long-term goal of scaling the business in mind.
Proposing a New Path
There were significant stakes, of course, when he proposed transitioning to a complete Dell EMC solution with VxRail. Chris says about the experience: “I made sure I did a lot of research and networking with different representatives before I brought up and during the transition. It was a bit intense because I was essentially suggesting we disrupt the relationships we had with our vendors—which were comfortable but also somewhat unproductive—and go in a new direction with a degree of uncertainty. I had to stick my neck on the line, but ultimately the value add was what fueled the decision and it’s the best one I’ve made to date.”
Since the transition, Chris has noticed that the HCI implementation has removed growing pains and allowed everyone to focus more on business development. The reliability and simplicity of the VxRail solution has taken the frustration out of managing hospitality IT and carved a path for Chris to look towards building the IT framework for ICC Wales, a new convention center collaboration between Celtic Manor and the Welsh government.
Of course, this posed new challenges for Chris and the rest of his team: with major events like the 2014 NATO Summit hosted at your venue, how do you ensure the integrity and security of your data? When the whole world is looking at you, how can IT maintain its integral invisibility? How does GDPR change our considerations for marketing, sales, onboarding systems, data storage, etc.? Chris says the HCI cluster investment was flexible and agile so they were able to build on it as needed, making it dynamic and reflexive to their needs. “Tech that’s versatile makes change easier down the road. That was something really important to us when making this decision.”
For him, the switch to HCI was a no-brainer, but there was no way to be 100% sure it would match his expectations. “One of the best pieces of professional advice I’ve ever received is to make a choice and feel confident about it when faced with a daunting decision, so that’s what we had to do.” Though at times it can feel so important to weigh all of your options so you can guarantee you’re making the correct choice, perfection is an unrealistic expectation in most circumstances. In fact, some people are paralyzed by perfection and that can create an obstacle for progress.
The nervousness surrounding major decisions like this helped draw Chris toward the CONVERGED User Group. “It’s great to have a network of people who have been in similar situations and can provide insight about what worked and what didn’t. I’ve been able to learn from many of my peers and likewise shared my own knowledge with them.” Chris says, “None of the Dell customers who attend CONVERGED events are paid to share their opinions, so there’s a sense of authenticity and honesty in every interaction. If anyone is considering purchasing HCI technology, becoming a member of CONVERGED means you have unadulterated access to free advice right at your fingertips.”