As a 24-year-old plastic raw material distributor, Zhejiang Mingri Holding Group not only leads the Chinese market, but also the digital transformation within traditional industries. Since 2018, Mingri has been upgrading their IT infrastructure and gradually moved mission-critical platforms to SmartX HCI through three phases. 

In this interview, Shen Qimin, CIO of Mingri, shared how SmartX HCI supports their business services with superior performance, easy O&M, and responsive customer services. 

Click here to watch the interview.

The following is the transcript of the interview.

Hello, everyone! I’m Shen Qimin, CIO of Zhejiang Mingri Holding Group.

Founded in 1998, Mingri has endeavored in providing distribution services of plastic raw materials for more than 20 years, and is currently leading the Chinese market. Now our business grows at a stable rate of 30% per year, which is owing to the digital transformation strategy we adopted in 2018. 

I believe Mingri stands at the forefront of digital transformation within the entire traditional industries because many companies are still struggling with integrating business and finance systems, which is the first phase of digital transformation. We, instead, are embarking on integrating a wider range of systems including business, finance, treasury, and taxation systems.

We are getting more competitive as a digital enterprise through embracing the most advanced IT infrastructure. In fact, we had been thinking about how to adopt on-premise infrastructure as we encountered performance bottlenecks in the public cloud. Previously, our core business ran on the public cloud. But its fluctuant performance hindered us from providing stable business services.

So we eventually decided to upgrade our IT infrastructure. We evaluated multiple solutions, including public cloud solutions, physical server solutions, hyperconvergence solutions, private cloud solutions, and virtualization solutions.

Given that we were at an early stage of digital transformation, we believed that hyperconvergence could be the most suitable choice to build a cloud-native and microservice platform for critical applications when we are unclear about the hardware performance and resources allocation.

Initially, we planned to deploy hyperconvergence for only one project. But after seeing hyperconvergence’s advantages and benefits during the implementation, we gradually moved many other applications over to the hyperconverged infrastructure. 

For example, we developed the data middle office afterwards and used hyperconvergence to support it. We involved more applications to the cluster, including applications for the human resource, finance, futures management, and so on.

We evaluated several hyperconverged infrastructure vendors such as Huawei, Sangfor, H3C and SmartX multiple times. And we finally picked SmartX because of the following reasons:

First, the proven stability and high performance of SmartX HCI in financial services, which, I believe, is very convincing. This is because, compared with traditional industries, financial services are more experienced in vendor selection. Their overall IT capabilities and the extent of digital transformation are way beyond us. So I was attracted by how they leverage SmartX HCI to support their business.

SmartX HCI’s easy-to-use interface and easy operations are another two key decision factors for us. Personally speaking, I think a professional vendor should go deep instead of wide in its field. SmartX convinced me of its expertise and future product expansion in HCI.

Overall, we built an HCI platform of 3 clusters, with 6, 3, and 4 nodes of each, through three phases.

For the first phase, we initially deployed 5 nodes to support the BIP platform. About 4 months later, we added another node to the cluster right away. The rapid implementation

also reflects how responsive SmartX is in providing services. Although the business demands increased considerably, SmartX’s HCI could always keep the application running stably and securely.

This is what I witnessed from the first phase of our partnership. And it also confirmed our decision of choosing SmartX as our HCI vendor for the second upgrade step.

In the second phase, we moved the data middle office and big data platform to SmartX HCI and deployed three nodes, which forms an independent cluster. It turned out that we were very satisfied with our partnership with SmartX, and to be specific, their products’ performance and various services and supports.

So we went with SmartX without hesitation when it came to our third project. In this project, we ran the entire BIP platform on SmartX HCI, which became the third cluster consisting of 4 nodes with all-flash storage.

In hindsight, if we had chosen the public cloud solution, we would have had to invest 2.5 million yuan per year. But, so far, our total investment in SmartX’s HCI solution was just around 3 million yuan. As our yearly budget for the digital transformation is about 20 million yuan, the investment in HCI accounts for a tiny part and can be adjusted on-demand.

The digital transformation of traditional architecture was very smooth. SmartX HCI platform is also easy for our professional O&M staff to learn and use. All virtual machines in the 3 clusters can be well managed. Although we only have one O&M expert, given the company’s situation, he could handle all the work through one interface. Therefore, I find the O&M of SmartX HCI is also effective and simple through my observations during the three-step upgrade.

On top of that, generally, SmartX HCI shows stable performance. Although there were two or three times that the HDD failed and required replacement, it’s quite acceptable. And when we encountered this issue, SmartX could timely respond and solve the problem, without disrupting our business services. I think this is another concrete proof of SmartX’s stable products and effective services.

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