Diaxion (Technical Architecture Solutions) leads virtualisation project for IAG, Australia and New Zealand’s largest insurance group
URL : zdnet.com.au
Insurance Australia Group (IAG) has cut down its server count by 600 machines over the past 12 months through the implementation of virtualisation software.
IAG head of infrastructure Andrew Cresp said the company currently ran 900 servers after struggling with 1,500 around a year ago in its primary datacentre in Melbourne. The move has saved the insurer from a costly datacentre upgrade.
“We were going to max out our electrical and power supply the way we were going,” he told ZDNet Australia last week
Cresp said IAG had been running out of space in the datacentre, attributing the problem to the burgeoning growth in servers in recent years. The company had been examining the case for a datacentre upgrade to meet the additional power and space requirements.
However, an analysis of the servers’ CPU usage determined that virtualisation would solve the problem.
Cresp’s team and partner Hewlett-Packard (HP) used VMware software to virtualise their core infrastructure on HP blade servers. After this proved successful, development and test application servers were migrated to the new platform.
IAG combined the project with a server refresh – it leases hardware from HP. Cresp said the new servers, with technologies such as multicore processing, were better suited to virtualisation and replaced some machines that were three-years-old.
A key to the success of the virtualisation project was the use of Platespin analysis software — conducted in conjunction with consulting group Diaxion (Technical Architecture Solutions). The software, developed in Canada, specialises in moving workloads from server to server.
This was necessary as the amount of server consolidation IAG intended came with its fair share of risk. “When you’ve got 20 servers sitting on one new hardware platform, you really need to make sure it’s going to hold up,” said Cresp. The new servers have been equal to the task.
Cost reduction not the issue
Cresp said the project has significantly reduced the datacentre’s power usage. This was a big step towards IAG’s goal to be carbon-neutral in five years, as the datacentre has been its biggest contributor of emissions.
While reduced costs were not the main driver of the project, this had also been achieved. Some of the savings have been re-invested in disaster recovery capabilities.
The reduced server count was not necessarily equal to the size of the savings, however. This was hard to impart on those unfamiliar with the technology (for example, management), according to Cresp.
“The challenge is management looking at the project and seeing a 40 percent reduction in server count and asking for a 40 percent cost reduction,” he said. “We have to convince them that there’s additional hardware costs and services.”