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Choice International

Choice International uses Nutanix to build scalable and secure financial services cloud

COMPANY

With headquarters in Mumbai and over 80 offices worldwide, Choice International Ltd. offers clients a diverse portfolio & caters Financial services, including investment banking, stockbroking, NBFC, consultancy, eCommerce, Hospitality, FMCG & IT

INDUSTRY

Financial services, Hospitality, Ecommerce, IT, FMCG

BUSINESS NEEDS

To build a scalable, flexible and highly resilient enterprise cloud to support a rapidly growing client base

SOLUTION

  • Nutanix Enterprise Cloud
  • Dell EMC XC Series Hyperconverged appliances
  • VMware hypervisor
  • Mix of general server workloads on Microsoft Windows and Linux Operating Systems
  • Financial service applications deployed through enterprise cloud

BENEFITS

  • More reliable and easier to manage delivery of cloud-based financial products from within secure datacentre environment
  • Better customer experience with client login time cut in half
  • Much enhanced and easier application availability with instant failover to secondary site without the need for additional software
  • Reduced infrastructure, power and cooling costs thanks to 85% reduction in rack footprint (7 racks reduced to just one in co-location facility)
  • Employee productivity gains, including reduced time for backoffice accounting processes
  • Significantly lower operational costs with automation, visibility and insights

CHALLENGE

With business growth of more than 40% year on year, Mumbai-based Choice International was having great success with its diverse portfolio of financial service products. It was, however, finding it difficult to keep pace with the associated and escalating IT demands, as Mr. Amit Jaokar, Executive Vice President IT, explains.

“As client workloads grew, so did our IT performance and availability problems, making it clear that our ageing mix of servers and SAN storage was no longer up to the job. The infrastructure was also proving costly to both run and maintain, with IT staff having to concentrate more on keeping the datacentre lights on than focusing on moving the business forward.”

When it came to replacing the infrastructure, Mr. Jaokar realised that more of the same just didn’t make sense. “We could have simply upgraded what we had, but that wouldn’t have addressed the underlying issues,” he said. “In order to build the scalable, robust and easy to manage infrastructure we needed, a total rethink was required.”

With a move to 100% virtualisation and the development of a secure enterprise cloud also on the agenda, Mr. Jaokar and his colleagues became convinced that a new approach, especially one that leveraged hyperconvergence, was the best way forward. With this in mind the team started looking for the best solution to meet its needs with a view to starting implementation as soon as possible.

SOLUTION

Following a short market review and several demonstrations, the IT team at Choice International narrowed the search down to just two solutions. One of these was from HPE, the other from Nutanix, with Mr. Jaokar ultimately deciding on the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud with the software deployed using Dell EMC XC Series Hyperconverged appliances.

“We decided to go for the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform primarily because of the reputation of Nutanix as a leader in the hyperconverged and enterprise cloud marketplace,” commented Mr. Jaokar. “We then opted for XC Series appliances from Nutanix partner Dell EMC because we had worked with the company before and had a good relationship with them.”

Decisions made, the company moved swiftly to installation, followed by a physical to virtual migration of existing server workloads to the new platform using VMware as the preferred hypervisor.

“We started out by migrating a few non-critical servers,” said Mr. Jaokar, “then testing them live for a month, mainly to get used to the management processes. During that time, we had no significant problems so pressed ahead with full migration of our business-critical apps and the development of a secure enterprise cloud, a process which took, in total, just four months.”

RESULTS

One of the most obvious and immediate benefits has been an 85% reduction in rack footprint. An important factor given that Choice International rents space at a co-location datacentre, enabling it to reap the rewards of the smaller footprint in the form of significant savings in both rental charges and ongoing power costs.

The IT infrastructure at Choice International is now also 100% virtualised, with the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform already supporting over a hundred VMs and growing. This has made it much easier to scale resources as demand grows, while at the same time significantly reducing management workloads, as Mr. Jaokar explains.

“One of the great things with the Nutanix software is the ability to gain greater visibility combined with advanced analytics to give us actionable intelligence to proactively manage service levels, optimize resource usage and help ensure configuration compliance across physical, virtual and cloud environments.”

Mr. Jaokar has also been impressed with the performance improvements achieved using the new infrastructure, which he describes as “nothing less than phenomenal”. Average client login time, for example, has been halved, while back-office accounting processes, previously taking 20-30 minutes to complete, can now be handled in just one or two. Moreover, these performance gains have been sustained against a background of on-going workload growth from a still expanding client base and without the need for additional expenditure.

Lastly, the company has been able to take steps to enhance the availability and security of its client services using the data replication and failover tools provided as part of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud software.

“Although we’ve had no downtime since migrating our main datacentre to the Dell EMC and Nutanix platform, we also deployed a second cluster at our head office,” said Mr. Jaokar. “This gives us the added security of being able to instantly failover all of our private cloud applications and their data in the unlikely event of a problem at the main site. With the old infrastructure this would have been almost impossible. With the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform it was child’s play.”

NEXT STEPS

In the short term, Mr. Jaokar is confident that the Nutanix infrastructure will be able to cope with current levels of growth for at least the next year or two. After that, he expects to take advantage of the linear scalability possible using the Nutanix platform to easily accommodate even greater workloads, simply by adding additional nodes to the cluster.

The company is also developing additional applications and planning to take further advantage of the flexible Nutanix platform to host an upcoming Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) rollout. As part of that project, it will also be investigating a switch from VMware to the integrated Nutanix AHV hypervisor, provided at no extra cost as part of the Enterprise Cloud solution.

“The benefits of migrating to the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform in terms of performance and availability have been nothing less than phenomenal.”

Mr. Amit Jaokar, EVP IT Choice International Ltd.