TDM Group builds virtual infrastructure from scratch for Symbian Foundation

The Symbian Foundation has saved on hardware, storage and licensing since implementing a VMware virtual infrastructure with the help of services provider TDM Group.

Open source mobile software company the Symbian Foundation claims to have saved an estimated 60-80% on hardware costs and cut the number of licenses it purchases in half by utilising a fully managed VMware environment designed and implemented by services specialist TDM Group.

The company claims that it has saved an estimated £100,000 to £200,000 using a hosting provider because it didn't need to expend cash up front for equipment, and about £50,000 per annum because it does not need its own in-house system administrators.

The Symbian Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation founded with the help of its board members, AT&T, Nokia, NTT DOCOMO, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, ST Ericsson, Texas Instruments and Vodafone. The foundation unites Symbian's operating system with software assets from Nokia, NTT DOCOMO and Sony Ericsson, and maintains it as an open source mobile platform.

The recently formed foundation started operating in the first half of 2009 and now has offices in London; Tokyo; Foster City, Calif.; and Helsinki, Finland; as well as planned facilities in Beijing. The new infrastructure spans the foundation's global operations of around 100 employees.

The TDM Group built the foundation's infrastructure -- a fully managed dedicated enterprise VMware environment hosted in TDM Group's data centre that can be accessed remotely by users.

TDM Group also implemented a fully managed VMware environment on-site at Symbian Foundation's head office.

The foundation worked with TDM to design the infrastructure around Linux so that virtual machines (VMs) could be deployed quickly through VMware, when required. TDM Group uses VMware's vSphere software to host the environment.

Ian McDonald, head of the foundation's internal IT systems, said that the new organisation's entire virtual infrastructure had to be built from scratch, which took just 12 weeks. The underlying infrastructure was installed in February and TDM Group started building on it within two weeks. The project was completed by April.

"Instead of a physical environment, we wanted to go for the 21st century way of building infrastructures -- virtual," said McDonald.

A TDM Group representative said the foundation's infrastructure is designed to react quickly to fluctuating demands so resources can be added or re-assigned as needed. For example, the management of some of the foundation's websites requires the easy transfer of developer resources to the Symbian community, including tools, SDKs and APIs, for members and non-members.

TDM stressed that 24/7 access to a secure environment is imperative for the organisation to carry out its work from anywhere in the world at any time, as the foundation will soon have five global offices.

Licenses and storage on demand
McDonald said the foundation has also chosen to adopt a license-on-demand model for both VMware and Linux to avoid unnecessary spending. "This has generated about 50% in cost savings," he said.

In addition to VMware virtualisation software, TDM Group also advised the foundation to use NetApp storage on demand instead of implementing a traditional storage area network (SAN).

TDM Group, a NetApp-certified partner, implemented and now manages a hosted storage solution for the Symbian, using NetApp's hardware and software. TDM Group recommended a storage architecture to reduce the foundation's administrative costs, reduce hardware and provide storage expansion when necessary. TDM Group also provides a regular backup and disaster recovery service as part of its storage on demand offering.

The foundation said it plans to extend its hosted service to a cloud-based computing-on-demand offering in the near future. "We already have a private cloud in place, so we will start to look into how we can add several elements to generate more savings," McDonald said.

Kayleigh Bateman is the site editor for SearchVirtualDataCentre.co.uk.

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