Reinvigorated End User Computing Only The Start As Healthcare Provider adopts Nutanix Calm To Deliver Multicloud Plans
The most immediate concern at Bupa was the need to address performance, scalability and management issues impacting users of its business-critical Citrix EUC platform. Issues quickly resolved by migrating from a legacy infrastructure to the Nutanix Cloud platform and AHV hypervisor. Beyond that, Bupa has opted for Nutanix Calm to not only further simplify and automate management of its EUC platform but support rapid deployment of this and other workloads to any cloud in accord with its long term multicloud strategy.
|Performance up, management down
||A more scalable and agile business
|Significant performance uplift for EUC with lower operational costs from simplified management from a single interface
||On-demand resource scaling for to meet fast moving business goals plus application orchestration and one-click automation using Nutanix Calm
||Immediate access to Infrastructure-as-Code (IAC) tools to support future plans for global multicloud IT
By migrating our EUC solution to Nutanix we’ve gained a lot more than just a more scalable, performant and agile infrastructure. We’ve driven down operational costs using the AHV hypervisor and further lowered support overheads with Nutanix Calm which is enabling us to both automate day to day management tasks and move forward with confidence to a multicloud future.
With End User Computing (EUC) seen as a business-critical application by leading health insurance and healthcare provider Bupa, the company had invested heavily in state-of-the-art Citrix software tailored to its exacting requirements. The supporting legacy infrastructure supporting, however, was approaching end of life and its replacement needed to address a number of long-standing issues, as Technical Services Manager, Rick Jagger, explains,.
“In common with other large enterprises we were running a 3-tier infrastructure which has lots of good use cases. Unfortunately, EUC isn’t one of them. Scalability, in particular, had become a real headache requiring consensus across multiple stakeholders just to get approval for minor upgrades and changes. Even then, those changes could still take days or sometimes weeks, severely limiting our ability to respond quickly to rapidly moving business demands.”
There were performance and availability issues, too with key components within the company’s Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop platform, for example, taking 30 minutes or more to boot. Added to which it was a very complex setup calling for expert skills across multiple disciplines just to keep the infrastructure lights on, let alone enhance or develop it further.
Although small, the Bupa tech team is highly experienced and it didn’t take long to figure out that a switch to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) would be the best way forward for its EUC solution. Neither did it take much time to decide on Nutanix as the vendor of choice, for a variety of reasons.
“We looked at a number of alternatives but, from the outset, Nutanix came closest to meeting our needs and the more we checked it out the better it looked,” said Jagger. “We went to a number of presentations and compared notes with contacts in other companies but were also able to get hands on using the Nutanix Community Edition to see for ourselves how it lived up in practice to the claims being made.”
Fortunately, the results of those tests were all good with the hypervisor neutral architecture of the Nutanix solution of particular interest here. Primarily because the Bupa team was keen to move away from the Citrix hypervisor then being used to both reduce complexity and allow for greater automation of both EUC management tasks and its supporting infrastructure.
“The obvious answer would have been a switch to VMware, because that’s what we use to host other IT systems. But when we compared that approach with AHV it became clear we could get the same results using the Nutanix hypervisor with the added benefit of full integration, a single point of management and none of the extra costs of hypervisor licensing.”
The configuration chosen called for two Nutanix clusters, numbering 100 nodes in total, to support the 5,000 existing EUC users whilst also allowing for growth. These were quickly delivered and deployed across two sites to meet rapid failover and disaster recovery requirements. The migration went very smoothly with no downtime and clear benefits as soon as the new infrastructure was brought online, as Jagger reports:
“Users reported a marked improvement in desktop performance straight away while, behind the scenes, Citrix modules previously needing half an hour or more to boot were starting in seconds. More than that, the whole system was a lot simpler and easier to manage with on-demand scaling at the press of a button and full end-to-end visibility from a single console.”
Support has also been streamlined with just one point of contact for all issues, whether hardware or software related, including the hypervisor. All can now be managed from the same console, eliminating the need for expert skills and freeing up staff to concentrate on other tasks, including plans to use Nutanix Calm to automate all aspects of the EUC application lifecycle.
“We’re very pleased with what Nutanix and Calm, in particular, are enabling us to do,” commented David Brett, EUC Technical Architect at Bupa. “In fact we’re already very much where we want to be as far as the automation of day to day EUC management processes is concerned, from initial provisioning of desktops and apps to empowering stakeholders to quickly scale the resources needed to do their jobs themselves. So much so that we’re now looking at wider uses in line with long term business objectives, both for EUC and other IT systems.”
Like most large enterprises Bupa expects the Cloud to play an increasing role in its IT strategy which, according to Jagger, puts Nutanix Calm, with its Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) capabilities, front and centre going forward.
“We’re already looking at using Calm to enable us to redeploy rather than upgrade applications in place,” he said. “We also like the ability to quickly deploy EUC and other applications to any cloud and, where possible, balance workloads across what could, eventually, become a global multicloud network supporting other parts of the Bupa business. It’s a tall order but, from what we’ve seen so far, Calm could well be key to making that all happen.”