Operating in the highly competitive energy market, Essent is constantly seeking to increase operational efficiency and deliver better value to customers and stakeholders. The company saw an opportunity to reduce costs by embarking on a major IT consolidation initiative.
Prior to the project, Essent's IT infrastructure was distributed between three data centers. The company decided to move to a central data center that would be simpler to manage, maintain, and protect.
The first challenge was timing: Essent needed to move quickly, before the lease on one of its existing data centers expired. Second, the servers used by Essent Trading needed to be online at all times, so it was not possible to shut them down and physically ship them from one location to another. Third, with limited space, power, and cooling available at the new site, it was vital to minimize the number of physical servers required and ensure room for future growth.
Essent identified a number of solutions for simplifying the move from physical servers to virtual hosts (P2V), but the company also needed help with physical-to-physical (P2P) migration. PlateSpin technology was uniquely able to cover both requirements.
"We liked the ability of the solution to provide anywhere-to-anywhere workload migrations – not only physical-to-virtual, but also physical-to-physical and virtual-to-physical," said Marco Spoel, Project Manager, IT Infrastructure, Essent. "By enabling many different workload movement activities, PlateSpin technology supported both our data center consolidation project and our ongoing operational requirements – all within a single software, support and training investment."
PQR, a partner specializing in PlateSpin technologies, performed a successful proof of concept, and Essent decided to go ahead with the full implementation.
Essent used PlateSpin Recon to remotely monitor the existing IT infrastructure and perform a full audit of the inventory and utilization of each server. This made it easier to decide which servers were the best candidates for virtualization, and which should be moved directly from one physical machine to another.
Using this information, Essent created a detailed migration plan and deployed PlateSpin Migrate to perform the P2P and P2V migrations. Within a month, the company moved 260 SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server and Microsoft Windows Server workloads from heterogeneous HP hardware to standardized IBM System x servers. In addition, Essent migrated 50 physical machines to virtual machines on VMware ESX Server – reducing floor space requirements in the new data center by 8 percent.
"If we hadn't selected the PlateSpin workload management solution, it would have taken a team of 25 people six months to build all the applications in the consolidated data center – at an estimated cost of over €3 million," said Spoel. "With PlateSpin we were able to migrate all servers in one month with a team of less than eight people."
To further reduce its IT management costs, Essent opted to standardize its Linux environment to a single distribution, selecting SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the most cost-effective option.