AsTech has only been around for two years, but the remote automotive diagnostics provider has gone through tremendous...
growth in that time. With diagnostic and demographic information on over 4,000 vehicles, the company made the decision to house its assets and servers in a Flexential data center a mile away from its headquarters in Plano, Texas.
Now, AsTech has a hybrid cloud infrastructure. Its production environment is split between a physical footprint in the Flexential data center in Plano and a cloud environment in nearby Richardson, Texas. Furthermore, it is replicated to another cloud in Denver, where the company has subscribed to Flexential's disaster recovery as a service to orchestrate cloud failover and failback. Finally, AsTech has a cloud presence in Amsterdam through Flexential as the beginnings of an overseas foothold for the company.
John Sotello, vice president of IT at AsTech, told us how the company's growth led to its investment in IT infrastructure.
"Most of our IT services were provided by a third party," Sotello said. "Sometimes, you get big, and you need to start building your own IT group. This spring, the organization made the decision to start bringing in its own IT team."
He joined the company in May 2018 as part of AsTech's push to build its own IT team, which then grew to 20 people.
The next step was "to get out of our office and actually run a real business," according to Sotello. That was when he purchased colocation space at the nearby Flexential data center. But even that wasn't enough, as considerations for backup and disaster recovery came up.
"As we grew, we needed to subscribe to hybrid cloud," Sotello said, which led to the cloud presence in Richardson, then Denver and eventually Amsterdam.
Still, AsTech continues to grow, with plans to open a data center on the West Coast of the United States and establish a stronger presence in Europe.
John Sotellovice president of IT at AsTech
"We had to grow to 30 cabinets [from five] to support the 2019 forecast," Sotello said. "Eventually, we're going to come into the land of diminishing returns."
Sotello said he will look into virtualization at that point, but he also said, "We're always going to have some level of physical footprint."
AsTech devices work by connecting to a vehicle's on-board diagnostics port to run a systemwide scan of the vehicle's electronics. Auto shops can easily identify and fix physical damage, but they rely on these types of scans to determine if sensors were damaged or need to be calibrated after an accident. These sensors are what govern safety features, like lane departure warnings and air bag inflation.
These scans pull data such as VIN, year, make, model and trim on top of diagnostics information for every sensor in each car. AsTech is growing out its infrastructure to better store and protect this data, which will only grow as the company scans more cars.
'No glory in backup'
Having worked with other colocation providers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Sotello knew what he was looking for when he was shopping around. Flexential ticked off every box on his list.
"I was looking for real estate, the ability to have a private cloud, but also the ability to handle some of the stuff I can't do right now," he said.
That last part was important to Sotello's plan. Because his own IT resources were so limited, he needed staff at a Flexential data center to act like an extension of his team, handling work like firewall management and disaster recovery orchestration.
"Some days, there is no glory in backup. Let someone else deal with it," Sotello said.
The fact that the nearest Flexential data center was just a mile down the road steered him toward a purchase, as well.