Configuring the right amount of virtual servers to meet application demands automatically, rather than manually configuring physical servers, underpins the business's long-term strategy to offer new broadband services such as voice, video and data to customers reliably and quickly, said Steve Gall, lead datacenter architect.
He said that early trials of automatic server configuration represented approximately half a million pounds in labour savings and better use of server capacity that had previously been underused.
"The phone industry is fast moving and our IT department have found it difficult to keep up with the demands of the business in the past. We're dealing with 360 terrabytes of information now, and by using automation we've increased the utilisation of our server capacity from 17% to 60% which has reduced our operating expenses by 30%," said Gall.
The company uses a combination of IBM P-series, Sun Solaris, Linux and Wintel servers in its data centres and has deployed software from Enigmatec for provisioning. Carphone Warehouse uses the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 2 framework for establishing service level agreements (SLAs) of applications with the business. It chose Enigmatec's software because it shows how making changes in server provisioning in one application will affect the service levels in another.
"If you are using automation, then the ITIL framework is essential. You cannot negotiate an SLA for a piece of hardware with the business, since that hardware might be used by several different applications in a virtual environment. Instead, you need to negotiate the delivery of a service or business application as the basis for your SLAs," he said.
Gall is currently overseeing a pilot project where the spare processing capacity on the company's development and test servers can be re-allocated to support disaster recovery and automatic fail-over - reducing the need to buy additional servers specifically for recovery. This will finish in November will be used as a company-wide model for providing IT services starting next year.