An Interview with Thomas Poehler, Director of IT, Turtle Entertainment
We recently interviewed Thomas to ask about his company’s Nutanix implementation, and to see what he has planned for .NEXT this year. Here are some highlights of our conversation.
Q. Can you tell me a little about Turtle Entertainment and your role in the company?
Turtle Entertainment is the company behind ESL, the world’s largest and most successful esports brand. We are an organizer of the world’s most prestigious online and offline competitions in competitive video gaming. Some of the most attended and watched esports events, hosted in places such as the Madison Square Garden (New York), the LANXESS arena (Cologne), or the SAP Center (San Jose), were organized and produced by us. We aren’t a game publisher or a game studio, but we work together with game developers and publishers to introduce their most successful games to competitive gaming, and drive the whole ecosystem of esports around it.
To put that into a practical context: one of the most popular computer games currently is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – and we run online and offline competitions around to world that cater to amateur, semi-professional, and the top professional teams playing this game. We are the tournament organizer for really big tournaments for this game. We sign up or invite the best teams, and they play for millions of dollars of prize money, on a big stage in a big stadium. As the Director of IT, I am responsible for all online operations, including our data center and our use of public clouds. This is where Nutanix comes into the game. They are providing the infrastructure for our online systems.
Q. What IT challenges were you facing before you moved to Nutanix?
When we started out in 2001, we didn’t have any big investor money, so we were forced to find cheap and efficient solutions. Luckily, we have a very technical staff, so we did it all ourselves. We built a virtualization platform using open source solutions, including KVM, and chose Dell EqualLogic systems as our storage platform. Our company was then purchased by the Modern Times Group (MTG), a Swedish media company, last June. As part of the acquisition, we received a budget for our core IT services that enabled us to improve development drastically. Our primary goal was to reduce internal maintenance workloads in order to shorten time to release for our solutions while leveraging the platform to be more stable and robust.
Q. How did you find out about the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud solution?
Dell introduced us to Nutanix last year. It was a perfect fit, because it uses all of the technologies we were working with before. We really like Nutanix’s open source approach—where they make everything ‘under the hood’ transparent. In opposite to VMware vSAN, which was also in our scope initially. At least for us at that point, vSAN was basically a ‘black box’ of proprietary software. We also liked using Dell as the hardware vendor, since we’ve had good experience with them over the years. In the end we purchased three Dell XC730 and nine XC630 systems.
Q. What are some of the main benefits of using Nutanix?
Nutanix frees up our internal resources by eliminating all of the maintenance of the virtualization and storage platforms. The second big benefit of Nutanix is the comprehensive visibility we get using Nutanix Prism. We now have better insights into what’s going on performance-wise, I/O-wise, network-wise compared to our legacy SAN. The third benefit is the API-driven aspect of Nutanix. We’ve implemented scripts to automate requests from our developers, and have been able to speed up the internal workflow drastically. It was really the right decision to go with Nutanix.
Q. Are you using AHV?
Yes, we did switch to AHV and it is working very well. We were already using KVM, the open source hypervisor, so moving to AHV was a no-brainer. AHV also makes sense from a cost perspective. Had we gone with ESXi from VMware, there would have been additional charges on software licensing, which we really don’t need.
Q. Will you be attending .NEXT in Vienna this year?
Yes, I am looking forward to hearing more about the Nutanix roadmap. I want to hear about the new products and features that are in development. One of the software topics I’m interested in hearing more about at .NEXT is multitenancy. We would like the ability to dedicate different resource pools within Nutanix to different user groups so they can self-service their VMs and infrastructure. I am also looking forward to seeing many of my colleagues and hearing more about their Nutanix implementations!
Come visit us at .NEXT
Nutanix .NEXT is scheduled for November 8-10, 2016 at the Hilton Vienna, Austria. For more information and to register for the user conference, please visit: www.nutanix.com/next