BSN INET provides system integration services for Japan’s state and local governments, as well as medical, health, and welfare, and private sector applications.
- Needed to update local government platform due to maintenance services expiration
- Decided to abandon 3-tier configuration to make operations as simple as possible
- Wanted to procure a competitively priced platform
- Required an environment that could effortlessly perform replication to remote site
- Needed a solution that could support simple migration from existing environment to enterprise cloud
- Nutanix Enterprise Cloud, NX series systems
– Acropolis, including AHV virtualization
– Prism management
– Nutanix Xtract for VMs
- Reduced IT costs by one-fourth compared to conventional 3-tier configuration
- Used Xtract for VMs to make migration process extremely fast and simple
- Enabled fast deduplication and compression
- Cut the number of restore procedure steps in half
Japan’s BSN INET provides system integration services for clients in the public service, medical, health and welfare fields, as well as businesses and organizations. They also provide outsourcing services, including contracted information processing and Internet data center services, software development and sales, and consultation. While independently operating two data centers in Niigata, BSN INET also offers cloud services in collaboration with data center operators nationwide.
In 2012, BSN INET built a finance accounting and water rates revision system on a cloud platform for a local government agency in Hokkaido. The equipment was installed in a data center operated by Hokkaido Telecommunication Network (HOTnet), and the same environment was set up in a BSN INET data center as a disaster recovery site. “Together with HOTnet, which offers a LGWAN (Local Government Wide Area Network) connection, we have provided service to the local government in Hokkaido for over five years. Since maintenance for the hardware was about to expire, we decided to upgrade to a new platform,” recalls Motohiko Sakata, Assistant Manager of the Market Development Division.
BSN INET also operates iNET IMAGE BANK, a comprehensive cloud services platform in Niigata, and it used a virtualization platform with a traditional 3-tier configuration for many years. “To remotely operate a platform in Hokkaido from Niigata, we needed a framework that is as easy to manage as possible. With a conventional 3-tier configuration, we would have needed to separately manage the virtual platform and storage, but we wanted to make the configuration simpler. We also wanted to keep platform costs down to maintain competitiveness in pricing,” said Sakata.
BSN INET then turned its attention to the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS. “I thought it was a good opportunity to try a leading-edge technology. Nutanix’s native hypervisor AHV also represented a new technology approach,” said Sakata. The company performs replication between data centers in Sapporo and Niigata that are 600 km apart, so Sakata says that one of the requirements for AHV was the ability to implement effective disaster recovery measures according to its business continuity plan.
“Until now we have been performing replication with a data replication solution from another company, but when we found out that AHV can do the same thing, we made the easy decision to go with it,” said Sakata. Because of the prohibitive cost in laying a broadband backbone between the company and HOTnet, he adds that another appealing factor was the built-in deduplication and compression functionality with the Nutanix solution.
At the time of the selection, discussions were taking place comparing multiple well-known hyperconverged infrastructure products from both Japanese and foreign vendors. In the end, Nutanix won for a variety of positive features and its excellent deployment track record. “We installed Nutanix appliances in our data centers in both Niigata and Hokkaido. Because we do business not only in Niigata Prefecture but nationwide, there are situations when the system will not operate unless it is hardware from a vendor supported by the local integrator. Because Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software is available as an individual product, it allows for more third-party platform options without relying on the infrastructure. As for hypervisors, Enterprise Cloud OS supports not only AHV, but other products such as VMware ESXi, so it can flexibly support a large variety of customer requirements,” said Sakata. He also recounts that the software was regarded highly within the company for producing a high IOPS performance, and for having a track record of being used by the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Another reason cited for the selection was the presence of Nutanix Xtract for VMs, a free app that supports migration from an existing virtual environment. Sakata says they were given information on it prior to its formal release, and that it was a feature they wanted to use for migration. “After scanning our existing system, we confirmed in a demo that the operations it would automate worked well, so it provided a big push for us to quickly migrate. In fact, by following the steps presented in the automation wizard, we could start migration in a few clicks. I was honestly surprised that migration could be this simple,” said Sakata. In addition, Sakata says they verified the ease of use of the Prism management tool beforehand, and they were impressed with its high degree of refinement. “The amount of information on a single screen is just right, so it’s very easy to understand. Other products require numerous screen transitions, so it’s difficult to confirm information and to use. Nutanix Prism system was very well designed,” said Sakata. After the testing and confirmation of features and benefits, Nutanix was selected as the new virtualization platform for use in local government.
Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS is now running on Nutanix NX Series systems, installed in both the Sapporo main site and the Niigata backup site. Starting with the databases for the finance and accounting system as well as the water rates revision system, all Oracle databases used (including for a local government monitoring system and security server) have been consolidated into the Nutanix system from which they are operated.
“After considering our licensing strategy, we consolidated the Oracle databases, whose operation is critical, and have instituted disaster recovery in a remote location,” said Sakata. AHV is used as the hypervisor, and replication is conducted daily in the middle of the night. “This is for our business continuity plan, so it is not that critical, but ultimately we want to perform replication every thirty minutes. This should be entirely possible with Nutanix,” emphasized Sakata.
Due to factors such as the use of AHV and greater operational efficiency, costs were reduced by about one-fourth compared to a conventional 3-tier configuration. “AHV is very stable. Because of its simple configuration and operation, anybody can restore the system from the disaster recovery environment in a short amount of time. The number of steps in the restore procedure is probably less than half than before. It’s a big thing to have confidence that the system can be restored should something go wrong,” said Sakata.
Nightly batch processing time has also been reduced, and now that not only deduplication but also compression are available, daily replication of the entire volume of about 350 GB can be completed in only 30 minutes. “Now that the batch data volume has been compressed to about one-third, we are able to complete replication in less time than before,” said Sakata.
The entire project—spanning equipment installation to environment migration and full operation—took only three weeks. Not only was the virtual environment built simply with the help of migration app Nutanix Xtract for VMs, it was successfully built in a short time period. “Normally migration between different virtual environments will require transit via a separate medium, so migration to a different environment is a cumbersome task. But we were able to migrate simply without hassle thanks to Nutanix Xtract for VMs,” said Sakata approvingly.
As for future expansion, while a conventional 3-tier configuration deployment would have required several months including equipment procurement, Sakata says that the current system can be scaled out quickly and easily. “Because we were able to gain experience with this new configuration, we will be able to propose a similar Nutanix configuration to clients including scaling out. We think this will also give a boost to our sales.”
Since the engineers for the infrastructure supported by BSN INET and for BSN INET’s system share the same Prism screen, confirming system status and reaching mutual understanding have become quicker. “Because the configuration has been simplified, equipment housed in the equipment rack is extremely simple and neat. Right now we support up to live monitoring, but I think we can provide operational support at an even deeper level,” said Manager Yuichi Minato of HOTnet’s Sales Management Division. Aside from the current project, HOTnet has actually had experience deploying Nutanix as a server platform in its Sapporo center, and firsttime Nutanix user Sakata was able to relax over during the environment installation.
As the same configuration has already been selected by other local governments, Sakata is hopeful that a package can be rolled out that includes a disaster recovery environment in a remote location. He says that Nutanix’s greatest value lies in the Enterprise Cloud OS including AHV, with the ability to bring hypervisor costs down to zero.
Moving forward, Sakata is hoping for the fusion of on-premise and cloud environments. “Right now, negotiations are taking place on the configuration that will be deployed in each government office building. In the future, it should become possible to seamlessly manage on-premise and cloud systems from a single screen without thinking about the environment using Prism. I have high expectations for the role cloud service Nutanix Xi Services will play in such a scenario,” said Sakata.
Because we were able to gain experience with this new configuration, we will be able to propose a similar Nutanix configuration to clients. We think this will also give a boost to our sales, as these systems scale out.Motohiko Sakata, Assistant Manager of the Market Development Division, BSN INET Co., Ltd