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How Lexipol migrated 100 VMs over the wire from VMware to Nutanix

Using VMotion, risk management firm Lexipol was able to copy its VMware storage pool in California onto Nutanix storage in its new Texas datacentre

US-based Lexipol is an early adopter of Xi Leap from Nutanix, which helps IT departments harmomise their on-premise and public cloud infrastructure based on hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI).

According to Nutanix, customers get a natively integrated disaster recovery (DR) cloud service and single-pane management to protect critical workloads running in the datacentre and in a cloud environment, delivering improved business continuity. 

Lexipol develops risk manuals and procedures for police and fire departments, which it delivers through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. It began using Nutanix’s HCI a few years ago, to support a datacentre update and migration project.

Patrick Sudderth, director of technical services at Lexipol, is responsible for cloud infrastructure and security. When he joined Lexipol three years ago, the IT infrastructure lacked maturity. The company also needed to focus on its security programme.

“As a company that develops risk management policies, we have to practice what we preach. We have to ensure we keep our employees and customers safe,” he says.

According to Sudderth, any IT infrastructure update needs to begin with due diligence. The company’s SaaS platform had to be highly resilient, so the IT team calculated the IT infrastructure requirements to provide the resilience needed. Sudderth says the exercise revealed a lot of opportunities to optimise the IT infrastructure.

“As a company that develops risk management policies, we have to practice what we preach. We have to ensure we keep our employees and customers safe”
Patrick Sudderth, Lexipol

For instance, the IT infrastructure was based on a legacy version of VMware. “We were on version 5.1 of VMware. The hypervisor was end of life. We had typical challenges: the hardware was out of date and we had performance issues,” he says.

Another challenge Lexipol faced was datacentre space. “It’s expensive to have a datacentre in California and our racks were full,” says Sudderth. The only way to upgrade was to move to a greenfield site in Texas, which was geographically centrally located for the company’s clients. “We needed to rightsize,” he adds.

A whole rack of servers can costs millions of dollars in terms of capital expense and operating costs. For Sudderth, going from a traditional three-tier IT infrastructure to a hyper-converged one would simplify the IT infrastructure and make it more cost-effective.

Migrating datacentres over the wire

He says the company had really ambitious plans to migrate over the wire, moving from VMware to Nutanix. This proved to be pretty straightforward, according to Sudderth.

“We did a VMotion from VMware storage to Nutanix storage across the wire,” he says. This enabled Lexipol’s VMware virtual machines in California to use Nutanix storage in Texas. Given that communications between storage and the virtual machines (VMs) would be going across the internet, there was high network latency, but it worked.

“All we had to do was shut down the VMs and add them to Nutanix. There was zero downtime and we didn’t experience any data loss,” he adds. Lexipol was able to migrate about 100 VMs over the wire to Nutanix using this method.

The other aspect of the datacentre migration involved deploying Lexipol’s SaaS platform on Nutanix. This involved switching the database onto Nutanix and then changing the domain name server (DNS) to point to the new version of the application. The final cutover took 30 minutes and was achieved during a maintenance window.

Disaster recovery

Switching to Nutanix has also improved the company’s disaster recovery, according to Sudderth. The company was an early adopter of Xi Leap for native Nutanix data protection.

“With previous disaster recovery systems, we weren’t able to achieve the performance we expected for virtual machine restoration, and managing DR as a separate silo made our infrastructure more complex,” he says.

“Nutanix Xi Leap allows us to configure policies that automate the DR workflow directly within the Prism Console and restoration happens in a matter of minutes. No other DRaaS vendor can come close to the simplicity of execution we experience with Xi Leap. It really is just one click. You set it up and forget it.”

Developer platform

Lexipol has long-term plans to make use of Kubernetes and microservices in the next version of its SaaS platform. Its goal is to run the production platform in Amazon Web Services (AWS). But software development will remain on-premise using Xi Leap.

“It is not cost-effective to put the developer environment in the public cloud,” says Sudderth. However, the company is also running out of capacity within its on-premise virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment.

“We have 12 full-time developers on staff, who will be augmented by a further 25 provided by an onshore provider. We need the ability to stretch and grow the developer environment without having to add new hardware. Xi Leap provides an extension to our on-premise environment, which can be fully controlled,” he says. 

Going forward, the company would like to take advantage of Nutanix’s Karbon Kubernetes distribution, as it would enable the developers to have a single, holistic environment. This would allow it to deploy applications in a multicloud fashion, either on-premise, on AWS or Microsoft Azure. “We want the flexibility to deploy where it is cost-effective,” says Sudderth.

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