nutanix

KS Solutions

Kanden System Solutions Deploys Nutanix

Business Needs

Kanden Systems Solutions needed a higher performing development environment

Solution

  • Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform NX-9060 Series
  • AHV virtualization
  • Prism management solution

Benefits

  • Obtained a high performance development environment that was easy to set up and modify
  • Reduced datacenter rack space by 60%
  • Achieved a 65% reduction in power consumption
  • Lowered operational costs by 35%

Challenge

Kanden System Solutions is a comprehensive information services company and part of the Kansai Electric Power Group. In addition to responding to the IT needs of Group companies, Kanden System Solutions also supports management and operational restructuring of typical businesses, various organizations, and local governments.

Kanden Systems Solutions is noted for its ability to provide consulting not only on an IT level, but also a management level. “System integrators typically only provide IT consulting, but we offer solutions with full support for everything from management consulting to information strategy formulation; information and communication system planning, design, construction, maintenance, and management; and outsourcing for data center, facility management, and operations,” says Masao Ohara, General Manager IT Services Department #2, Information Technology Services Division.

The company is active in direct sales of products and services based on its insight and the expertise it has been providing to its parent company Kansai Electric Power Group and other Kanden Group companies. One of them is the customer information system (CIS) “NISHIKI”, the Electricity CIS needed by retail electricity providers. This package was newly created in anticipation of the complete deregulation of Japan’s retail electricity that began in April 2016, as part of a service that supports retail electricity providers newly entered into the market. There is no other example of a similar package being offered by a system integrator in the power industry in Japan today.

NISHIKI is equipped with two operational features. The first is a powerful fee calculation engine. Various elements related to fee calculation are separated into components, and by combining these components, it is possible to create a fee menu with very fine adjustments that change according to the season, day of the week, time zone, and other factors. In conjunction with this, NISHIKI offers various operational features related to fee calculation. It is also equipped with customer management features to manage contract information on electricity usage and customer transfers between retail electricity providers. When a customer moves from one retail electricity provider to another, information is linked between NISHIKI and the system provided by the Organization for Cross-Regional Coordination of Transmission Operators, making transfer processing simple.

“We consider the deregulation of retail electricity as an opportunity,” emphasizes Kazuyuki Kawamukai, Project Manager of Electricity CIS Project Team, Energy Business Management Department, Energy Business Division, who oversaw development of NISHIKI. “We will continue to expand business by leveraging the operational expertise we have developed to date.”

The Development Department requested various specifications for the IT environment and its operation in 2015 when NISHIKI development was in progress in anticipation of the April 1, 2016 deregulation of the retail electricity market. Ohara recalls, “When it comes to the development environment of a large system, such as wanting to operate multiple system development and test environments, or to quickly provision the number of CPUs and allocate memory in a performance test environment, the importance and flexibility of operations increase. To satisfy these requirements, we discussed construction of a high performance development platform with superior operability.”

Solution

Kanden System Solutions began considering the build of a new development platform in August of 2015. In terms of architecture, it considered three types of systems: hyperconverged, converged, and hierarchical (conventional configuration). While hierarchical systems have a proven record, platform building requires time and operations are complex. Converged systems guarantee compatibility and platform building time can be shortened, but the architecture is the same as a hierarchical system, so there are problems with flexibility after construction. If disk I/O speed is emphasized and a hierarchical or converged system is made all-flash, it would not only cause costs to increase, there would also be concerns of a risk of SAN failure. In contrast, with Nutanix’s hyperconverged solution, not only can construction time be shortened, post-construction modifications are extremely simple, so I/O bottleneck resolution and greater resistance to failure can be expected. In addition, dramatic increases in IOPS can be expected from the use of an all-flash model.

“We have been interested in Nutanix for a long time, so we gave a lot of thought into what kind of environment it could be used in,” explains Takeshi Eto, Leader of Data Center Services Group, IT Services Department #2, Information Technology Services Division. Eto compared the combination of the Nutanix all-flash model NX-9060 Series (4 nodes) and AHV, with a hierarchical system that included all-flash and a licensed hypervisor. After comparing the solutions from various perspectives, the outstanding usefulness of Nutanix was recognized. The decision to deploy this system was made in October, and the system was delivered in December of 2015.

Results

The following three points summarize the main benefits of deploying Nutanix:

  • Cost Reductions in Initial Expense and Operational Costs. “Instead of using a licensed hypervisor, by switching to the proprietary hypervisor AHV supplied by Nutanix, we were able to reduce the hypervisor licensing cost to zero,” says Ohara with a smile. “In addition, we were able to reduce rack space for this environment at our data center by 60% and power consumption by 65%. As a result simplifying the previously complex cloud platform operation and associated workflow of related internal cloud use paperwork, we were also able to reduce operational costs by 35%.”
  • Increased Productivity in System Development and Rapid Construction. “The system construction time was about 1 day,” says Eto. “The system was delivered equipped with our requested specifications, so we only had to power, rack, cable, and test it. We were able to use it as a virtual platform on the same day it was received. I was surprised by this. In addition, performance of the Nutanix all-flash model is incredible, so there is absolutely no negative effect, even if the system is flooded with tasks. Its performance surpassed our expectations. In addition to reductions in operational costs from the aforementioned workflow simplification, after Nutanix was deployed, the Development Department was able to build and operate its own virtual machine environment by using the Nutanix Prism UI. Timely operation became possible, including configuration modification, cloning, and snapshot acquisition, leading to significant increases in speed of system development.”
  • A Hypervisor-Agnostic Environment. A typical licensed hypervisor was used in the past. By building a virtual environment with AHV, licensing fees have become unnecessary. In addition, it is now possible to use diverse environments in the future without relying on a specific hypervisor. “Nutanix AHV has been operating stably without issues since its deployment. There is no need to think about the hypervisor* anymore,” says Ohara.

*Through the use of the App Mobility Fabric, an environment has been created in which virtual machines can flexibly migrate between the different hypervisors of VMware vSphere and Nutanix AHV.

Next Steps

“In July 2015, we began offering hybrid cloud services with Microsoft Azure as the platform,” says Ohara of his expectations for Nutanix. “We are considering Nutanix, which has a strong affinity with Microsoft Azure and enables quick system building, for the hybrid integrated platform of our state-of-the-art urban data center cloud service (CIERTO/Virtual hosting) environment with the Microsoft Azure public cloud. Moving ahead, we are looking forward to Microsoft Azure Stack on Nutanix, online vMotion to migrate between different hypervisors and between on-premise and public environments, and disaster recovery support with mutual recovery.”

In addition, with operational performance and expertise on the NISHIKI development platform used as a foundation, there is promise for Nutanix to be adopted in Kanden System Solutions’ cloud platform, including consideration to replace the commercial cloud platform currently in operation with Nutanix.

Electricity CIS “NISHIKI” is garnering attention from many directions as a unique business in the deregulation of retail electricity, and Nutanix is supporting this business expansion.

“To build a high performance platform with high operational and maintenance efficiency in a short turnaround time, we have adopted Japan’s first all-flash model NX-9060 and AHV. This marks our company’s first use of a hyperconverged system and all-flash model, so it was a challenge, but we have tested it repeatedly and have absolutely no concerns. The system operates stably with high performance as expected, so we can recommend it with confidence.”

– Masao Ohara, General Manager of IT Services Department #2, Information Technology Services Division; Kanden System Solutions Co., Inc.