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Nutanix Arrives as a Mainstream Datacenter Player

by Steve Kaplan

Challenge

BART completed a $40 million business transformation project in 2012, modernizing all of its finance, HR, and maintenance systems using traditional storage systems and HP servers. “We decided to use 3-tier infrastructure for the project, but the environment was never very scalable,” explained Ravi Misra, Chief Information Officer at SF Bay Area Rapid Transit. “It was also very time-consuming to deploy new applications with that architecture, and it couldn’t provide the stability we needed for our mission-critical apps. We wanted to find a seamless, high performance IT solution that was easy to manage—one without all of the moving parts that you get with traditional architectures.”

Solution

Starting with VDI

Bentleys is an association of independent, full-service accounting firms in Australia. Bentleys Queensland has a staff of about 160 professionals focused on rural small and midsize businesses and government clients.

From Server to Desktop Virtualization

Bentleys Queensland had virtualized its fleet of servers in 2010 and wanted to go one step further by virtualizing desktops. At the time, the staff was using a fleet of aging desktops and laptops running Windows XP that were perceived as too slow for the latest 64-bit applications, especially compared to the newest laptops many people had at home. Updating and replacing physical desktops was onerous and time-consuming for the firm’s two IT administrators. It took considerable time to create a new image with applications for a physical desktop, while VDI allowed standardized images to be pushed to new clients, including mobile devices in considerably less time. “We could see that virtualizing desktops would give us a great deal of improved time management for managing desktops,” said Garry Patmore, Network Administrator for Bentleys Queensland.

I’m as happy as a clam since we deployed the Nutanix converged infrastructure. It has made things so much less complicated for us.

Garry Patmore, Network Administrator

Nutanix Aces the Cost Analysis

As one would expect for an accounting firm, Bentleys studied cost and return on investment for VDI thoroughly. The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform significantly reduced the cost of moving to VDI. Initially Bentleys considered adding more hard drives to their existing EMC SAN storage, but performance was inadequate. They also looked at the new flash based storage, but Nutanix’s compact footprint, power and cooling efficiency and pricing drew them to the Virtual Computing Platform. Nutanix could deliver a server and storage platform with ample VDI performance in only 2U of rack space, compared to 16U for traditional servers and SAN – an 88% reduction. Power and cooling were similarly less. “This was just monumentally significant,” added Patmore, as they were pushing up against the power and cooling limits of their datacenter. Lower energy consumption significantly reduced operating costs and total cost of ownership.

The fact that Nutanix partners with VMware and preloads vCenter on its platform would ease the learning curve for Bentleys’ IT staff, because they were already familiar with VMware. The Nutanix pricing also fit within the project budget, an important point for the firm’s directors. The initial investment in server, storage and software infrastructure for VDI based on VMware Horizon View was about the same as buying new physical desktops.

“The big selling point was improving our computer services division’s ability to speed and simplify day-to-day administration including moving users from one machine to another in case their machine has an issue,” said Patmore.

Benefits

  • Seamlessly launched a new private cloud for all enterprise apps
  • Cut management time in half
  • Reduced deployment time from 8 months to just a few days
  • Reduced footprint and power requirements by 3x, without sacrificing performance
  • Achieved a 25-30% reduction in application deployment time

Outcome

“I’m as happy as a clam since we deployed the Nutanix converged infrastructure. It has made things so much less complicated for us,” said Patmore. When the time comes to upgrade their remaining servers and SAN infrastructure, Bentleys may replace the traditional infrastructure with Nutanix. “Taking out 24U of disk, controllers and hosts and replacing it with a 2U block is a no-brainer,” he said. “So many I know around Brisbane have looked at Nutanix in recent months and have said, ‘Converged infrastructure is a giant leap forward in datacenter architecture.’”

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