Case Study – The Henry Ford Trusts Hostway With Its Digital Transformation

As a museum dedicated to curating stories from America’s rich history and legacy of innovation, The Henry Ford holds over 26 million artifacts from many different time periods. From the very bus where Rosa Parks famously took a stand against segregation to the legendary Menlo Park laboratory where Thomas Edison brought incredible innovations to light, visitors to the museum can see and experience rare artifacts associated with some of the most important events in U.S. history.  

While an estimated 1.7 million people visit The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan each year, an additional 3 million people visit thehenryford.org online annually. And because only five percent of the museum’s extensive collection is currently on physical display, The Henry Ford is actively digitizing the rest of the artifacts, building multimedia experiences around each artifact, then making them available to a global audience through their website. Needless to say, The Henry Ford website is mission critical to its business. 

Challenge 

Redundancy 
Before working with Hostway, The Henry Ford relied on a non-redundant, dedicated server environment running on Windows 2000. That environment was considerably lacking, and any failure could result in the loss of access for thousands of online visitors.  

“Redundancy was a huge priority for our organization. It’s a mission-critical application not only for on-site guests, but for those off-site as well.”—Kevin Cubberly, Director of Information Technology for The Henry Ford  

Microsoft-Enabled 
In addition to their redundancy issues, The Henry Ford used variety of Microsoft-based solutions, so it needed a single partner that was familiar with the unique challenges associated with all of those products. 

Solution

Building a Complete, Fully-Managed Infrastructure 
After weighing its options, The Henry Ford found that Hostway’s Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) solution would be the best solution for its needs. The Hostway Solution Engineering Team worked hand-in-hand with the Henry Ford team to create a fully-managed private cloud solution capable of supporting a multimedia-rich experience with maximum uptime.  

“It was important from a virtual cloud standpoint that resources not be shared. We trusted Hostway to help us engineer a complete, fully-managed solution, and that’s exactly what they did.”— Kevin Cubberly, Director of Information Technology for The Henry Ford  

Want to take a closer look at the architecture Hostway build for The Henry Ford? See It Now 
Hostway worked extensively with The Henry Ford IT staff to refine the solution design, ensuring it would meet their specific requirements. The Hostway team also helped ensure sufficient capacity would be available for the museum’s current digitization initiative, as well as future improvements. Best of all, Hostway ensured that The Henry Ford would be able to utilize familiar technology.  

When all was said and done, the team designed and deployed a redundant environment that included multiple applications and several database servers, along with over 10 terabytes of storage space to start and the ability to scale seamlessly to hundreds of terabytes. This platform configuration delivered the perfect balance of two important benefits:  

  • Scalability to support the museum’s plans to digitize their always-growing collection of artifacts  
  • Reliability for a mission-critical application of this type 
Results 

Once the new Hostway solution was deployed, The Henry Ford was able to turn off the old legacy environment, completing the migration to a new platform that better supported their long-term requirements.  

Excellent Redundancy and Scalability 
Along with combining the security and configurability of a dedicated server environment with the flexibility of a public cloud, the Hostway Virtual Private Cloud provided several key benefits including:  

  • Increased redundancy and reliability compared to the previous single-server environment running on Windows 2000  
  • Resources and scalability to support aggressive digital transformation initiatives  
  • Easy management by an IT staff familiar with Microsoft applications  

“We had a vision for what we wanted, and Hostway’s solution was the most complete. Performance-wise, the new environment is night and day from the old environment. We have the flexibility to spin it up and spin it down and do what we need to do. We’ve been very satisfied with the build-out, transition, and ongoing support from Hostway.”— Kevin Cubberly, Director of Information Technology for The Henry Ford  

Total Microsoft Compatibility 
By using the Microsoft Windows Azure Pack, Hostway ensured that The Henry Ford would be able to utilize familiar technology. This also allowed for the management of:  

  • Access to PowerShell cmdlets and the API for power users  
  • Easy-to-use UI, providing simple access and configurability to all resources  
  • Templates, expediating resource provisioning  
  • Firewalls and inbound rules, virtual networking, segmentation, and isolation Additional features of this solution include:  
  • HA-dedicated firewalls that allow for network isolation, VPN capabilities, and faster speeds  
  • An advanced, virtualized deployment that includes dedicated servers running in a cluster for fault tolerance, each server configured with Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V  
  • Data that’s stored in a fully-redundant storage array with 3-way mirroring; this storage array runs on Microsoft Storage Spaces technology, surfaced to the virtual machines through Scale Out File Services 
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