Specialty Insurance Company Finds the Easy Button for Automating IT Processes Across Different Hypervisors

In this video, the senior IT infrastructure engineer at global specialty insurer Markel tells how his team uses Nutanix software and customer services in their quest to cut costs and simplify IT operations.

By Ken Kaplan

By Ken Kaplan January 31, 2024

Ryan McBrearty is a senior infrastructure engineer at Markel, a global specialty insurer based in Richmond, Virginia.

In this video, he offers a peek into the financial services’ IT strategy for simplifying processes and cutting costs across IT operations. And that includes managing on-prem systems that run two different hypervisors as well as some public cloud services. 

He discusses how Nutanix’s hybrid multicloud software powers dozens of server clusters that account for more than 400 individual virtual machines (VMs)

The company's goal is to automate any process that is repeated more than twice. McBrearty says they’re only starting to scratch the surface of what they can do with Nutanix software.

Video transcript:

Ryan McBrearty: We are an all-Nutanix shop on-prem. We do have some cloud as well. We have over close to 30 different Nutanix clusters with over 400-plus individual nodes within those clusters. And we have a mixture of ESXi as well as AHV. Some of our AHV clusters are running at 32 nodes, so some big boys out there.

We wanted to cut down operational costs and use automation as a key focus in that. An objective was given to everyone to figure out what processes do we use on a regular basis and how can we speed up those processes and really automate them, especially in the server build space and taking a process that takes two months that has as quick as a window as possible, whether that's two hours or four hours, beginning with we just had, we want to automate server builds so that we have consistency across that platform. So it was really taking that process and putting a workflow around it.


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Automation is a key foundation, so we want to automate everything. If there's a process that is repeated more than twice, then let's see what we can do to automate it. So that's how we're going to continue to leverage Nutanix self-service. So that and the integration pieces that it has with the other tools in our environment, whether it's networking, whether it's security, whether it's cloud, being able to touch all of those things. Our backup team as well, we want to work towards that software-defined data center. 

So there was a lot of back and forth and things had to touch hands multiple times. Whereas once somebody puts in a request, now all of that information is gathered at the beginning, it's put into at launch of the blueprint and then we just hit go and it just builds it. That shrinks down that timeframe from, again, two months to two hours. 
The beauty of self-service is that it will bend to your whims. So if you are comfortable with writing code in a certain language, whether it's Python or PowerShell, it will allow you to do that the way that you want. The different pieces were very complicated and very challenging to learn and manipulate, and it took a lot of time to go through and really understand how to use those tools where I think the tools today from Nutanix are a lot easier, a little bit more straightforward.

Support with Nutanix has always been great. NCM [Nutanix Cloud Manager] self-service has really been the easy button for us when it comes to automation. It's been a great tool that has endless possibilities that we have barely begun to scratch the surface on how to use it and how to leverage it. The deeper we dive into it, the more things that we realize that we can do, and I'm excited for the future of what that looks like because again, the possibilities are endless.

Editor’s note: Learn more about how Markel relies on Nutanix software in this case study.

Ken Kaplan is Editor in Chief for The Forecast by Nutanix. Find him on X @kenekaplan.

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