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Moving from Mainframe to Web-Scale with Nutanix

by Community Manager ‎04-16-2015 09:19 AM - edited ‎04-23-2015 02:33 PM (620 Views)

An Interview with Jeff Babcock, IT Technical Infrastructure Manager at Empire Life

 

Background: Empire Life helps Canadians build wealth and protect their financial security with competitive individual and group life and health insurance as well as a variety of investment and retirement products. Jeff Babcock manages the IT Infrastructure team and datacenters for Empire Life. We recently asked Jeff to share some of the details of his company’s recent move from mainframe to web-scale and Nutanix. Here are the highlights of our conversation.

 

Q. What were some the key IT and business challenges you were facing prior to Nutanix?

 

A. We were using a mainframe for all of our critical financial data and daily investment transactions. The equipment and annual maintenance contracts for this system were becoming prohibitively expensive. We wanted to find a more cost-effective solution that could provide enough performance for our mission-critical applications and also enable us to launch new solutions, including hybrid cloud, VDI, and more.

 

Q. Why did you choose Nutanix?

 

A. In partnership with one of our vendors, we tested and compared Nutanix to a number of different solutions. Nutanix performed as well as – or far better than – all of the other systems measured almost unilaterally on every data point, which was way beyond our expectations. The Nutanix appliances also delivered four times the IOPS at four times lower latency compared to our existing SAN. In a word—stunning!

 

Q. Did you obtain any footprint or power savings by moving to Nutanix?

 

A. The space efficiency of the Nutanix appliances and the density of virtual machines per node is amazing. We have achieved a 16:1 reduction in footprint, literally re-shaping our datacenter. Additionally we intend to migrate a large number of servers from our Unified Communications environment to Nutanix, which will further improve our reduction ratio.

 

Q. Can you tell me about the Nutanix installation experience?

 

A. It took less than half a day to deploy the entire Nutanix environment. That was quite surprising, considering that we started with 13 nodes and over 100TB of storage. It was an order of magnitude faster than installing anything in our previous environment. Migrating workloads to Nutanix has been extremely smooth and straightforward, without requiring system outages.

 

Q. Did you obtain any OpEx or CapEx improvements by moving to Nutanix?

 

A. Our mainframe environment was prohibitively expensive. We anticipate we will be able to avoid significant costs over the course of the project by transitioning from our mainframe to the Nutanix web-scale environment. Our projected cost reductions are in the order of 50-65%. As you can imagine, this makes our CTO and CEO very happy. We expect significant additional savings via VDI and elimination of traditional SAN in our environment very soon.

 

Q. Can you tell me about your DR environment?

 

A. We were relying on tape-based Disaster Recovery before we switched to Nutanix. Whenever there was a recovery scenario, we would rebuild our systems from scratch on rental contract hardware using the backup tapes, which is a slow, manual process. Nutanix has opened the door to completely re-engineer our DR plan. With Nutanix replication, recovery can take just minutes. And by moving to a hyper-converged system, we no longer have to keep a large amount of expensive and sometimes proprietary hardware and services on contract with a hosted DR facility – we can easily manage this ourselves. Our team loves this, as it frees them to work on more interesting and strategic projects.

 

Q. Do you have any plans for expanding your use of Nutanix?

 

A. Nutanix is now being used for five different use cases here at Empire Life, split across two clusters – one for our production server, unified communications, and mainframe application environments, and the other for development/testing and our virtual desktop environments. The versatility of the Nutanix solution makes it ideal for a wide range of applications in our production environment. In fact, we have decided to use Nutanix as our default platform for everything X86-based going forward. We couldn’t be happier…

 

Q. I was told that you will be speaking at the Nutanix .NEXT user conference in June. What will your session cover?

 

A. Yes, I will be co-presenting a session with Jonathan Kohler, one of Nutanix’s consulting architects. Our session will cover some of the tips and tricks for migrating server workloads to Nutanix. I hope you can attend!

 

.NEXT is the only conference dedicated to the latest in enterprise datacenter technologies and architectures. Space is limited, so register today and find out what’s .NEXT for you. www.nutanix.com/next.

 

.NEXT Session Abstract: Migrating Server Workloads to Nutanix

 

Co-presented by Jonathan Kohler, Consulting Architect at Nutanix, and Jeff Babcock, IT Technical Infrastructure Manager at Empire Life

 

In this technical session, a Nutanix consultant and an experienced virtualization expert from Empire Life will share real-world best practices for efficiently and easily migrating all types of server workloads to Nutanix. You will hear in-depth and practical information on migration assessments and platform sizing considerations, and learn how to pick the right conversion tools and leverage storage migration facilities. The session will conclude by providing valuable insights for making migrations successful and painless for your organization.

 

This session will cover:

  • How to develop success criteria for large or complex migrations
  • The basics of cross-hypervisor migrations, and how Nutanix in-path migrations work
  • Tips and tricks for ingesting large amounts of data in short periods of time

Getting Ready for .NEXT with Serco North America

by Community Manager ‎04-15-2015 11:39 AM - edited ‎04-23-2015 02:34 PM (850 Views)

An Interview with Derik Davenport, Network Engineer, Serco Inc.

 

Derik Davenport works for Serco North America as a network engineer. He designs and implements IT solutions for federal customers including the US Air Force and the Department of Health and Human Services. His current project supports the Affordable Care Act and includes a large Nutanix deployment for the customer’s virtual desktops and application server infrastructure. We asked Derik if he could give us an update on his federal client’s recent move to Nutanix. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation.

 

Q. Why did Serco choose Nutanix?

 

A. When we are given the requirements for a customer’s problem, we try to create an environment that will perfectly suits their needs. But it’s difficult to build something to the correct size, because the customer doesn’t always know what those requirements are, and it’s usually a moving target anyway. The fact that Nutanix is so granular and can be grown in small or large increments really helps out in engineering an environment that can ‘hit that target’ for the customer. It gives us a lot of advantages over traditional architectures.

 

Before Nutanix, we had to buy more than we needed so we could have unutilized resources on hand when the demand inevitably came. With Nutanix, we can just buy what we need and easily grow the environment to meet demand. We don’t have to do an entire technology refresh or forklift upgrade when we need more capacity or IOPS, we can just incrementally add a few more nodes. That has been a big benefit for us.

 

Q. Can you describe your experience working with Nutanix Tech Support?

 

A. The Nutanix Support team is amazing. I have never spoken to a more knowledgeable support staff. The other vendors always transfer you from primary to second-tier or third-tier support to get an answer. Nutanix makes it very easy to access the ‘smart people’ right from the start. You get access to the engineers and product developers who are actually designing these solutions. It’s night and day compared to other support organizations. And the experience is just as great today as it was two years ago. That great service wasn’t just a ‘new-customer lock-in’ thing. It’s a real differentiator for Nutanix.

 

Q. Are you going to attend .NEXT in June?

 

A. Yes, I will be co-presenting a session at the conference this year with Partha Ramachrandran, Technical Lead at Nutanix; and Tim Isaacs, Senior Product Manager. We use the Nutanix data protection feature a lot at Serco. We’ll be talking about a large government project we’ve been working on for a few years. This project is continually changing — we’ve scaled it in a lot of different ways. It has given us a lot of experience, particularly in the all-important government requirement for big data. We have been using just about every feature Nutanix has developed since we started this project. We initially used Nutanix replication while it was still in the command line, and now thankfully it’s all in the GUI which makes it much easier to use. That feature has saved us a lot time and effort. We’d like to share our experience with data protection so that other Nutanix customers can use it too. I’ll be talking about this in my session, but you’ll have to attend to hear more details!

 

.NEXT is the only conference dedicated to the latest in enterprise datacenter technologies and architectures. Space is limited, so register today and find out what¹s .NEXT for you. www.nutanix.com/next

 

.NEXT Session Abstract: Building a DR Solution the Right Way
Speakers: Partha Ramachrandran, Technical Lead, Nutanix; Tim Isaacs, Senior Product Manager, Nutanix; Derik Davenport, Serco Engineer

 

Attendees at this technical session will gain an in-depth understanding of how to build a first-class disaster recovery (DR) solution, including site replication strategies, advanced topology structures, recovery mechanisms and scheduling considerations. Nutanix engineers will detail best practices for integrating with third-party DR solutions, and highlight new cloud-based back-up capabilities and Nutanix Metro Availability that ensures application and data availability across datacenters.

 

This session will cover:

  • Why application SLA requirements drive successful DR strategies
  • How to size your DR infrastructure to support capacity and performance demands
  • The best ways to efficiently manage an enterprise-wide disaster recovery deployment

 

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