Gaining a Competitive Edge and Happy Customers with Converged, Always-On IT

FlexPod and Veeam tie virtualization, storage, servers, and protection into one flexible, easily managed, and scalable turnkey solution. That’s a huge selling point.


MacLean-Fogg Company has been family-owned since it was founded in 1925 to produce lock nuts for North America’s railroads. A global enterprise headquartered in Mundelein, Illinois, MacLean-Fogg manufactures metal and plastic components for the automotive and power utility markets and operates production facilities and customer support offices worldwide.




Satisfy business and manufacturing operations needs while keeping data protected and critical applications available.


Easily manage and protect a growing 24/7 global enterprise by standardizing on FlexPod® and Veeam Availability Suite software.
  • Improved IT agility, scalability, and availability to boost customer satisfaction, profitability, and business potential
  • Deployed FlexPod with zero impact to 24/7 manufacturing operations
  • Centralize and manage critical applications from an easily scaled, converged hub supported by one system engineer
  • Simplify and speed nondisruptive backup and recovery of critical VMs and data

About NetApp:

Leading organizations worldwide count on NetApp for software, systems and services to manage and store their data. Customers value our teamwork, expertise and passion for helping them succeed now and into the future.

Modern World Manufacturing

Whether it’s keeping you safe in your vehicle or bringing electricity to your door, MacLean-Fogg Company plays a key role in manufacturing components integral to modern life. Founded nearly a century ago to produce lock nuts for North American railroads, this familyowned business has grown organically and through acquisition into a global enterprise with 32 offices and manufacturing sites.

The company is divided into two divisions: MacLean-Fogg Power Systems, which manufactures products for utility, telecommunications, and civil markets; and MacLean-Fogg Component Solutions, which produces fasteners, engineered components, and linkage and suspension products for automotive, aerospace, mining, and other industries. Combined they produce annual sales in excess of $900 million.

The Challenge

Striving to become every customer’s preferred supplier

What sets MacLean-Fogg apart is its firstrate customer service coupled with the advanced engineering and precise manufacturing that go into every component. “We work hard to earn our customers’ trust,” says Ray Ciscon, senior systems engineer at MacLean-Fogg Company. “It’s one of the reasons why our wheel nuts are in every car Ford manufactures.”

The Solution

The company began exploring ways to rearchitect and standardize its aging IT infrastructure to better serve 24/7 operations and exacting SLAs. A prevalidated FlexPod Datacenter solution, coupled with Veeam Availability Suite v8 software, quickly stood out as an enabler for the dynamic, always-on operations the company required. The ability to seamlessly integrate with and enhance existing NetApp® and VMware® investments across the enterprise was an added advantage.

“FlexPod and Veeam tie virtualization, storage, servers, and protection into one flexible, easily managed, and scalable turnkey solution. That’s a huge selling point,” says Ciscon.

A seamless transition to simplicity and speed

Vital to a business that banks on nonstop manufacturing operations and on-time delivery, MacLean-Fogg’s FlexPod Datacenter solution was quickly deployed at headquarters with zero operational impact. Datalink Corporation’s expertise in sizing and deploying FlexPod components coupled with Ciscon’s proficiency with VMware and NetApp technology made for a fast installation and seamless migration of virtual machines (VMs) and data.

A new NetApp FAS3220HA storage controller configuration, which also leverages existing NetApp disk assets, brings high performance, availability, and efficiency to the new converged infrastructure. “We are big fans of NetApp,” says Ciscon. “The solutions integrate well with VMware, and deduplication and thin-provisioning features give us more for our dollar on our disc purchases, especially using NFS.”

On the server side, a single Cisco® Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®) 5108 blade server chassis with eight B200 M3 blade servers and one 10GbE connection simplifies cabling and troubleshooting by replacing four aging servers with 16 1Gb links. 10GbE Cisco Nexus® 5548P switches and a Cisco UCS 6248UP Fabric Interconnect optimize server and storage connectivity for accelerated operations.

APIs for every layer of the FlexPod infrastructure integrate each vendor’s management tools for fast, cohesive administration.

“FlexPod supports our corporate headquarters as well as both divisions,” says Ciscon. “Having a high-speed 10GbE connection between virtual machines and enterprise storage, along with centralized control over the environment, means more responsive operations.”

Based on MacLean-Fogg’s success using FlexPod in its primary data center, the company is deploying a second FlexPod configuration with a NetApp FAS3140 storage system at its DR site.

Resiliency for the converged data center and beyond

Complementing the agility, manageability, and scalability of MacLean-Fogg’s new FlexPod infrastructure are NetApp and Veeam data availability solutions.Together they keep core Microsoft®, ERP, and specialized manufacturing applications and data continuously accessible.

Veeam Availability Suite combines comprehensive Veeam Backup & Replication™ tools with advanced Veeam ONE™ monitoring and reporting capabilities. With this solution, Ciscon can singlehandedly manage and streamline backup for some 450 virtual machines worldwide, while conserving terabytes of data using deduplication.

Veeam’s Backup from Storage Snapshots feature is especially valued for its ability to shield ERP processes from being disrupted by VMs, which can become momentarily unresponsive during backup processes. Veeam’s deep integration with NetApp choreographs the capture and deletion of VMware and NetApp Snapshot® copies; which not only eliminates VM “stun,” but also condenses a typical 45-minute backup process to less than 60 seconds.

Recovery options of all sizes are facilitated by both NetApp and Veeam tools. Veeam Instant VM Recovery® and Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Exchange Server, for example, facilitate prompt restoration of everything from virtual machines to e-mails. Handling full site recovery, NetApp SnapMirror® efficiently replicates production volumes to MacLean-Fogg’s DR site for all locations with NetApp platforms. For all other locations, Veeam replication technology quickly mirrors VMs back to the DR site.

Business Benefits

End-to-end value

In the world of global manufacturing, IT agility, scalability, and availability are critical for keeping a business competitive and customers happy. Backed by standardized, integrated Cisco, NetApp, VMware, and Veeam solutions, MacLean-Fogg is taking full advantage of these qualities to advance the business and maximize efficiencies:

  • Four tools, one systems engineer.

    A converged FlexPod infrastructure, coupled with standardized, automated backup and recovery, turns the work of four or five into a job for one. “With NetApp OnCommand® System and Performance Manager tools, Cisco UCS Manager, and Veeam ONE, I can easily monitor and manage enterprise storage, the physical and virtual server infrastructure, and backups and recovery,” says Ciscon.

  • The confidence to centralize.

    Supported by infrastructure flexibility and simplified management, Ciscon is centralizing more of the company’s core enterprise applications within the primary data center. “We probably had 20 Microsoft Exchange servers, but now with FlexPod we can easily run it all from headquarters with a backup deck running at our DR site,” states Ciscon.

  • Easy expansion.

    FlexPod success in the primary data center recently provided a compelling case for hosting a new Epicor ERP platform for the MacLean-Fogg Power Systems division in house. “By simply adding another Cisco UCS chassis and a couple of NetApp shelves to our existing FlexPod configuration, we can offer the Power Systems division a powerful, agile, and highly available infrastructure for its ERP platform right here, and for less money,” says Ciscon. FlexPod also supports the company’s active acquisitions strategy, facilitating faster and easier onboarding and quicker return on investment.

  • Higher satisfaction, greater profit.

    A major part of MacLean-Fogg’s business comes from leading automotive manufacturers that rely on on-time delivery of quality components. Fines are issued for delayed shipments. FlexPod backed by NetApp and Veeam availability solutions makes for a more resilient, productive business. “If anything goes down, I can recover it in minutes,” says Ciscon. “Continuous manufacturing and on-schedule delivery mean higher satisfaction for our customers and a more profitable business.”

About Veeam

Veeam® has pioneered a new market of Availability for the Modern Data Center™ to help companies solve the challenges of keeping their businesses up and running at all times. Veeam enables the Always-On Business™ with solutions that provide recovery time and point objectives (RTPO™) of less than 15 minutes for virtualized applications and data.

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