Top Gun Technology: Mission Critical IT and Storage Solutions - The Ultimate Data Center Resource

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“With great power comes great responsibility,” a quote referenced by world leaders since the late 1790s and holding special relevance to CIOs who oversee mission-critical operations where managing continual technology revelations can be a daunting responsibility. As much as CIOs strive to attain the control within their own IT infrastructure in the literal, holistic sense of the word, the responsibility, cost and required technical knowledge are massive, especially today when technological innovations are constantly created. It is a challenge to balance budget expenditures and to remain within a technology space where performance, system compatibilities, ease of use and cost are needed to maintain a competitive edge within a business. Third-party IT solution providers play a crucial role in achieving this balance, yet, CIOs need to be diligent in evaluating their IT caterers’ “roots,” expertise, ability to deliver tailor-made solutions, and more importantly, how fast the entity in question can “come to the rescue?” The review calls for workforce expertise, success stories, legacy, sneak peeks into the work culture, and innovation labs. And on all these fronts, Minnesota-based Top Gun Technology (TGT) proves their worth.

Server, Storage, and Networking Expertise

TGT offers direct end-user maintenance, implementation services and hardware for mission-critical server, storage, and network environments. They go the extra mile in understanding the clients’ IT infrastructure, their IT philosophy and their risk tolerance to deliver a custom-built service creating long-term value. “With this understanding, we engage with our clients in a consultative manner by providing a TrueView™ risk assessment, which identifies which assets should remain with the OEM and what could be serviced by a third party maintenance (TPM) provider and why,” says Brian Kjera, TGT’s Director of Product Management.

TGT even provides Level 3 Backline Technical Support to other TPMs who do not have the high-level engineering skillsets or remote service tools around mission-critical server and storage platforms. Another aspect that places TGT way ahead of its competitors is their recently completed Tier II Data Center at the Minnesota Headquarters facility—home to their North American technical center. “This data center is host to the latest generation server, storage, and networking product lines in which we buy, sell, and service. It allows our engineering and product teams to continue their world-leading expertise within a true customer environment to understand the latest technology developments by OEMs,” mentions Joel Owens, CEO of TGT. In effect, TGT’s real innovation is the development of proprietary service tools and “people” to be able to deliver services and create value. Owens himself began his career 28 years ago as a mainframe engineer. He credits the work culture and talent upbringing of the company to his success and ultimately, how TGT’s workforce is hired and nurtured to “be the best at what they do.”

The Remarkable Client Success Story

Another key differentiator of TGT is that their holistic consultative approach is not tied to any specific OEM. “We pride ourselves in being agile and flexible to come up with great solutions, not based on a specific manufacturer or initiative, but rather what makes sense for each situation,” says Mamie Sheen, TGT’s Senior Vice President of Sales. “We help customers think outside the box. Sometimes it just takes a slightly different perspective, and a whole new world of ideas and options open up.” Mamie recalls a recent customer success story, which she feels best exemplifies TGT’s value proposition, when a weather event took down a government organization’s mainframe. “Their DS6800 didn’t have enough time to gracefully shutdown,” and Chaos ensued. She received the mayday call on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the client’s DS6800 was beyond IBM’s end of service and no longer on maintenance support, and the customer lacked mainframe expertise. They needed an immediate replacement and opted to purchase an IBM branded DS8800 along with installation and maintenance services. In addition, TGT presented the option for remote hosting allowing their system and data to be quickly restored to a remote mainframe from backup tapes.

TGT’s true innovation is the development of proprietary service tools and “people” to be able to deliver services and create value

The networking teams were able to overcome connectivity concerns, and the IBM Z production environment was soon up and once again accessible to all users. TGT had been proactive in providing the licensing for global mirroring on the DS8800, at no additional charge, even though it was not an immediate consideration or request from the client. IBM Global Mirroring was chosen to create an active/passive hot failover system. With near zero data loss and recovery time within a few hours for failover, potential service interruptions were greatly minimized.

Broadest Portfolio and Exemplary Legacy

The company’s expertise on the IBM front requires special mention. “TGT and their executive management team have been selling and servicing IBM Z Mainframe Processors and related peripherals for the past 30 years,” says Jamie Owens, President and Chief Engineering Officer at the company. They have the most extensive pre-owned inventory of IBM Z equipment in the world, which allows them to create value by providing full-system capacity, upgrade and maintenance solutions within the client environments. The company has expanded their maintenance and hardware resale business to include all major OEMs for server, storage, and networking. They also maintain HDS mainframe storage and Dell-EMC VMAX Gen 1 and 2 systems, which support FICON environments.

To keep pace with the changing storage landscape, TGT sells and maintains pre-owned flash products ranging from hardware compression “Tier 0 Flash” to software packaged “Tier 1 Flash” using flash modules and bundled SSD flash drives. They leverage systems known for their virtualization and “All-SSD” systems including 3Par, MSA, EqualLogic and Storwize. TGT also supplies and maintains tiered hybrid solutions, which bring an economy of scale to the storage environment by adding a flash tier for critical workloads, 10K or 15K SAS for performance workloads and NL SAS as needed for less accessed storage. “We incorporate these solutions into the enterprise business critical environment using IBM’s DS8000 product line and to the midrange environment with VNX, Storwize, 3Par and FAS. We can customize a wide range of tape libraries ranging from LTO technology to IBM 3592 technology and we also work with enterprise FICON attached tape systems and customized virtual tape solutions for z environments,” says Donna Pizarro, Senior Vice President of Storage Solutions at TGT.

Owing to the company’s large market share and presence, TGT’s senior technical support teams see more problems in a few weeks than a typical field engineer would see in years. “Our management group has over 125+ years of experience in this industry, and our senior engineering group has well over 100 years of experience within all of the major OEMs. We follow research statistics, client demands and global market trends when adding a product to our portfolio. Before we onboard a system into our maintenance portfolio, we thoroughly test the product, and break and fix the product to ensure we can support the client’s environment.” concludes Donna. Evidently, TGT exhibits their remarkable power in delivering value-bound server, storage and networking service solutions by taking up the responsibility to holistically empower their clients’ infrastructure and ultimately, the CIOs.

Top Gun Technology

Joel Owens, CEO, Jamie Owens, President and Donna Pizarro, Senior Vice President of Storage Solutions Mamie Sheen, Senior Vice President of Sales and Brian Kjera, Director of Product Management

Top Gun Technology is a leading vendor of third party trade of refurbished IT hardware. The company provides expert consultation to data center professionals seeking alternative cost saving solutions for multiple OEMs new offerings such as IBM, Oracle/SUN/STK, HP, Cisco, EMC and others. Top Gun has a sales staff with 30 plus years experience in technical support and sales of hardware and associated services. The organization's active presence in the marketplace has enabled it to create a significant inventory that is constantly evolving with the latest available hardware on the used market

Top Gun Technology