HP blades and VMware save credit firm over £300,000

Credit Market Analysis saves IT costs and sees a surge in new business after virtualising its infrastructure to accommodate more customers.

Within the first three months of installing a new virtual infrastructure based on Hewlett-Packard blade servers and VMware ESX virtualisation, credit information specialist Credit Market Analysis (CMA) saw its customer base jump from five to 65 companies.

CMA, headquartered in London and with offices in New York, develops software to enable credit traders to manage stock and quotes in real time.

Ryan Sclanders, the Chief Information Officer at CMA, said the team designed the virtual infrastructure to host application servers in-house for customers. He said previously clients managed their own databases, but CMA wanted to take on this responsibility.

"We wanted to bring that back in and share it over the Web by putting a binary code on the shared infrastructure. We work with real-time credit traders, so performance and being available online 24/7 is crucial for traders."

The company's operating environment includes Windows, Microsoft.NET and Ubuntu Linux servers running Microsoft SQL, MySQL and Exchange email, as well as CMA's QuoteVision and DataVision applications.

Out with the old IT infrastructure
In its previous production environment, the company had 22 HP ProLiant DL servers and generation 3 and 4 physical server boxes, but it now runs 150 virtual servers with VMware ESX on just five physical HP blade servers. Each server previously had direct storage attached, but CMA opted to sit the virtual servers on a Compellent storage area network (SAN) in the rebuild.

CMA runs another 250 servers in its virtualised disaster recovery (DR) environment.

"We lost 17 boxes; the choice was to manage about 350-plus severs in total or go virtual," Sclanders said.

He explained that there were massive savings in administrative overheads, energy costs and space, as well as not needing additional staff to manage so many servers.

"We also made huge hardware savings, as each server costs around £5,000," he added. The company chose two blade chasses for production and DR.

Compellent SANS bring additional savings
CMA also bought two Compellent SANs: a 14 TB SAN for the production environment and a 19 TB SAN that runs a combination of host-level DR and corporate services.

According to Sclanders, CMA saved £300,000 in the first six months of going live with its new virtual environment, due to savings in space, power and time management of the servers. Other cost savings came from implementing shared storage to cut disk purchases and save power through tiering and simpler storage administration.

"When I joined CMA the infrastructure was completely physical with DAS. We had no redundancy and needed to rebuild an environment that was safe and stable," said Sclanders.

Challenges

Blade infrastructure is expensive to run, but the power is less than other solutions out there so you make the money back eventually

Ryan Sclanders, CIO, at CMA,

Due to a lack of redundancy CMA needed something built straight away, so Sclanders said budget was an issue as he did not have one to begin with let alone throughout the implementation.

"Blade infrastructure is expensive to run, but the power is less than other solutions out there so you make the money back eventually," he added.

Scalability was an important factor for building the new infrastructure as the company anticipated growth, but not to the extent that it experienced in the first few months of going live. Sclanders said the stats were drawn up for five new customers, but the company gained 65 in just three months. The amount of storage needed to accommodate so many new customers was addressed by Compellent's SAN, which includes thin provisioning.

The IT department also struggled with the generation of applications, according to Sclander.

"We needed scalable applications plus security around them. We also wanted a shared application, as each customer had their own application infrastructure previously. This allowed us to reduce the amount of customers running on one single server," he said.

Kayleigh Bateman is the Site Editor for SearchVirtualDataCentre.co.uk

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