Mission Migrates Smitty’s Supply to AWS, Reducing IT Costs and Establishing Resilient and Secure Infrastructure

Executive Summary

On a tight two-month deadline, Mission migrated all of Smitty’s Microsoft Windows workloads to AWS ahead of schedule and under budget. This meant migrating 24 VMware source servers, mostly running Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2016. Mission also migrated five of Smitty’s applications, including a large and complex ERP solution. Mission also delivered critical cloud best-practice training and equipped the enterprise with a transparent and resilient cloud infrastructure built for future scale.

Enterprise Manufacturer Needs to Modernize Its Infrastructure While Ensuring Budget Efficiency

Hands-on AWS expertise migrating existing infrastructure to AWS – whether on-prem or from another cloud – is one of the biggest drivers behind why enterprises like Smitty’s Supply turn to an AWS Premier Consulting Partner like MissionSmitty’s Supply, Inc., one of the largest privately owned and operated manufacturing distributor of custom oils and lubricants in the United States, faced three events that spurred the enterprise to migrate to a modernized cloud infrastructure.

First, Smitty’s relied on legacy on-prem Windows Server-based systems running on out-of-support VMware solutions. “The infrastructure had become what they called ‘a sprawling spaghetti network,’ and was increasingly challenging for Smitty’s to manage,” said Jonathan LaCour, Chief Technology Officer, Mission. This infrastructure also created roadblocks that hampered efforts to easily incorporate newer technologies into Smitty’s systems.

Second, Smitty’s had been the target of a ransomware attack; it completely shut down the company’s systems for three full days, and reduced them to 50% capacity for another week. While Smitty’s didn’t lose any data nor pay the ransom, the downtime did impact business continuity. Smitty’s began to consider infrastructural changes that would enable superior disaster recovery.

Lastly, Smitty's internal understanding of the inner workings of its legacy infrastructure became an increasing (and time-intensive) challenge to maintain and troubleshoot, leading to reliability issues. “Our archaic solutions were due for an overhaul," said Clay Kibbons, IT Department Manager at Smitty’s. "I wanted to rip out everything on-prem and replace it with something we’d have documentation on and a full understanding of.” 

“When our board of directors asked what partner I recommended, Mission was the easy choice based on their understanding of our goals and their response times. I also realized that we wanted an AWS-exclusive provider that really knew and focused on AWS. That was Mission.”

- Clay Kibbons, IT Department Manager, Smitty’s

Mission Leads Smitty’s Migration to AWS

Smitty’s contacted AWS because of its reputation as the leading cloud provider. “Cost-wise, migrating to the AWS Cloud meant a massive savings if we had an attack and needed to recover from it,” said Kibbons. “With normal operational costs there were smaller savings, but what AWS primarily offered us was less downtime and more consistency. Realizing those cost savings, plus the ongoing application reliability that AWS would enable, sealed the deal.”

AWS recommended Mission as a managed cloud service provider and AWS Premier Partner particularly well-suited to Smitty’s enterprise-level and soup-to-nuts migration use case, given Mission’s expertise migrating Windows workloads to AWS and its deep experience in supporting larger customers like Smitty’s. Smitty’s initially worked with Mission’s team to establish an understanding of the proposed AWS infrastructure, as well as the project timeline and costs. “I asked lots of questions of the Mission team,” said Kibbons. “When our board of directors asked what partner I recommended, Mission was the easy choice based on their understanding of our goals and their response times. I also realized that we wanted an AWS-exclusive provider that really knew and focused on AWS. That was Mission.”

A necessarily short deadline made for a quick lift-and-shift project timeline, especially considering Smitty’s size and the potential difficulties of its complex (and out-of-support) network. However, Mission was confident in meeting the proposed timeline.“ Smitty’s wanted to migrate 24 VMware source servers, the majority of which were running Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2016,” said Mission’s LaCour. “They also needed five applications migrated, including a large and complex ERP solution. We utilized CloudEndure Disaster Recovery to achieve a seamless migration of all requisite servers, as well as deploying AWS Snowball, AWS’ petabyte-scale data transport solution, to transfer the large data volumes. In total, we migrated 30 terabytes of data, and built eight new servers running Windows Server 2016 that modernized Smitty’s systems.” 

Mission’s Continuous Engagement Model Ensured Success

Throughout the project, Mission demonstrated its “continuous engagement” philosophy with Smitty’s in order to complete migration work and provide education on what they were doing and why. These aspects of Mission’s cloud management services proved invaluable at key moments in the migration, especially when moving Smitty’s ERP system.

“Our ERP is the lifeblood of our business,” said Kibbons. “It’s also an archaic system from 1995. We’re actually their only customer using that software in the cloud, meaning our use case was fully untested. But Mission helped make it possible. When it came time to perform the migration, we ran it over Saturday nights when our production and shipping systems could be shut down long enough to move our huge servers. Our main AWS cloud consultant at Mission was more than willing to pull all-nighters on the weekends to get this done right. After all that effort, we actually hit failures each time because of how novel our particular situation was. But rather than saying it just wouldn’t work like a lot of partners would, our Mission analyst was on the phone with me continuously, troubleshooting and teaching me what was going on. Mission didn’t give up. In fact, they taught me the process so thoroughly that on the third attempt I tried and completed the ERP migration myself, with Mission on standby in case I needed anything.”

Post-migration, Smitty’s also completed an AWS cost optimization workshop where Mission led the fine tuning of the customer’s AWS usage. From there, Smitty’s became a Mission Cloud One customer for ongoing AWS management and for ongoing large-scale projects that benefit from leveraging AWS as the cloud infrastructure backbone.

“That constant back and forth really helped illuminate the inner workings of AWS. I could also be very hands off if I wanted. Any time I was in a time crunch, I could send a message about a problem, and 20 minutes later Mission had it fixed."

- Clay Kibbons, IT Department Manager, Smitty’s

With Ten Days to Spare, Mission Beats the Clock – and the Budget

Racing to meet the tight deadline, the Mission-led migration of Smitty’s infrastructure and applications to AWS was actually completed ten days ahead of schedule. Smitty’s current monthly AWS spend – even before cost optimization – has also come in below the initial quoted projection. These successes made transformation to AWS the first project in the Smitty’s history completed ahead of schedule and under budget. In an analysis projecting total costs over three years and accounting for all credits offered by AWS and Azure, AWS was the more affordable cloud solution, and also $30,000 less expensive than a proposed on-prem system.

With Smitty’s systems running smoothly on AWS and supported by Mission, the enterprise has the disaster recovery safeguards in place to withstand security threats like the one it previously encountered. Backed by this newfound reliability, Smitty’s internal team now has the beneficial peace of mind to set its sights on new projects and improvements, rather than maintenance and putting out fires. Smitty’s cloud transformation, backed by Mission’s continuous engagement and AWS training, has also brought new transparency to those systems and yielded key learnings. “Files they believed to be lost forever have been rediscovered,” explained LaCour. “Connections and group policies that were the source of issues are now understood and remediated. Following our engagement with them, Smitty’s now has full command over its infrastructure, enjoys smooth and resilient operations, and is well-positioned to advance its cloud-based capabilities going forward.”

“I had working sessions with Mission twice a week, where they would show me things in AWS: this is what this does, this is why it does it,” said Kibbons. “That constant back and forth really helped illuminate the inner workings of AWS. I could also be very hands off if I wanted. Any time I was in a time crunch, I could send a message about a problem, and 20 minutes later Mission had it fixed. If we have a situation where a server is down and I don’t know why, I feel safe knowing that Mission understands everything about that server, because they helped us put it there. It’s not a mid-grade professional services arrangement where I have to start from scratch each time I begin a ticket with a stranger to help me fix something. With Mission, I’m asking people I know and trust, because they’re the people who built the thing.”

Smitty's Supply, Inc.

About Smitty's Supply, Inc

Smitty's Supply, Inc. is a manufacturer and distributor in the world of oil and lubricants, delivering quality products at competitive pricing. Smitty's has acquired additional contracts with other major brand companies to now include the Shell, Pennzoil, Quaker State, Chevron, Texaco, Castrol, Valvoline, and Mystik brands.

About Mission

Mission accelerates enterprise cloud transformation by delivering a differentiated suite of agile managed cloud services and consulting. As an AWS Premier Partner, Mission’s always-on services enable businesses to scale and outpace competitors by leveraging a transformative technology platform and enterprise software ecosystem.

Published July 2021