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									                                        Success Stories

                                        Insight Investments
                                        Accelerates Growth with
                                        Server Virtualization and
                                        NetApp FAS Storage

                                        CUSTOMER PROFILE                                The question quickly became how to meet
                                        Insight Investments provides services and       this rising demand within the tight IT budget-
                                        solutions that help companies manage both       ary constraints of a small to medium-sized
                                        technology needs and financial objectives,      business (SMB). The customary method of
                                        while providing control over assets, capital,   adding more equipment would require a
                                        and data. Insight’s team of industry experts    significant expansion of Insight’s IT infra-
                                        works closely with clients across multiple      structure. The inability to put any more
                                        industries to develop customized financing      hardware in the existing cramped space
                                        and technology solutions that increase their    delayed deployment of new applications.
Industry                                clients’ profitability.
                                                                                        “Traditionally, small and medium-sized
IT solutions                                                                            companies have had no way to meet grow-
                                        Since 1987 the company has provided
The challenge                           a wide array of solutions designed to fit       ing application demand except by spending
Upgrade IT infrastructure to accom-     specific customer needs, including new and      large sums on more data center hardware,
modate 100% annual growth in sales,     used equipment acquisition, custom leasing      software, and facilities infrastructure,” says
while reducing space, power, and        and financing, asset management, off-lease      Rob Cotter, Insight’s CTO.
cooling requirements and streamlining   portfolio management, excess equipment
                                                                                        Like most companies, Insight Investments
business processes.                     disposal, and the integration of best-of-
                                                                                        hosted individual applications on individual
                                        breed technology for data management
The solution                                                                            servers with dedicated storage that were
                                        and security solutions.
Deploy clustered NetApp fabric-                                                         configured for peak loads. This increased
attached storage (FAS) systems          THE CHALLENGE                                   reliability for the application but resulted in
to support a VMware® Virtual                                                            underutilization of server and storage assets.
                                        Upgrade IT infrastructure to meet rising
Infrastructure environment.                                                             The company discovered that most servers
                                        demand and increase utilization, working
                                                                                        were running at 8% to 15% CPU utilization.
                                        within the budgetary and space constraints
                                        of an SMB                                       Improving utilization would require running
• Tripled hardware utilization
                                        Over the past two years, demand for Insight’s   multiple applications on the same server,
• Slashed power, cooling, and
                                        products and services caused its sales to       but that brought a host of other concerns,
  other operating costs by 65%
                                        jump by 100% annually, which led to sky-        including interoperability issues, more
• Accelerated replication and
                                        rocketing usage of Insight’s own network        downtime for applications, and more
                                        infrastructure as well as new demands for       difficulty in the patching processes.
• Accelerated deployment of
                                        applications to support streamlined business
  new projects
“The amount of consolidation we were
 able to achieve was astounding. It looks
 like our server and storage inventory
 went on a huge diet. Maintenance and
 administration are now much easier,
 and we can deploy applications orders
 of magnitude faster and at a lower cost.”
 Rob Cotter
 CTO, Insight Investments

 Adding more servers produced other, less           a compelling case for virtualization, high-          As a solution provider and a NetApp STAR
 obvious problems. Server sprawl resulted           lighting many benefits with no significant           Partner, Insight had a broad range of storage
 in higher management complexity, under-            drawbacks. The final hurdle was to identify          and data management solution vendors to
 utilized storage, and higher hardware costs,       the best approach to use.                            choose from for its own needs. The company
 including switches and HBAs. There were                                                                 opted for a highly redundant shared storage
 also higher power requirements and A/C             Insight’s IT staff considered a handful of           solution from NetApp that would increase
 costs and, most importantly, an ever-              alternatives before deciding on VMware               overall availability to enable the VMware
 increasing number of time-consuming                Virtual Infrastructure 3.0 and NetApp’s              availability features, while optimizing the
 reactive tasks that Insight’s IT staff was         storage and data management solutions.               storage environment. The NetApp solution
 handling such as server and storage pro-           Two key requirements for Insight were                streamlined storage requirements through
 visioning, configuration, monitoring, and          support for its existing hardware and network        increased efficiency and utilization. The
 maintenance. This resulted in a huge               and a robust high-availability capability.           iSCSI-based solution allowed Insight to
 reduction in the amount of time Insight’s          VMware differentiated itself from the alterna-       leverage its existing networking infrastructure,
 IT staff spent on designing and implement-         tives with full support of all of Insight’s server   while meeting and exceeding performance
 ing business applications to support the           platforms, as well as simple yet robust high-        requirements of the company’s Great Plains,
 company’s continued growth.                        availability features such as VMware VMotion         Microsoft® SQL Server™, and Exchange
                                                    and VMware HA. In addition, VMware pro-              environments. As a further benefit, the
 THE SOLUTION                                       vided other tools that simplified Insight’s          NetApp solution reduced the backup and
 Move from a physical to a virtualized              migration to a virtualized environment.              restore management tasks for the IT staff
 infrastructure by implementing VMware                                                                   and enabled simple, efficient, cost-effective
                                                    Even before undertaking the server virtual-
 servers, partitioning the network, and                                                                  disaster recovery.
                                                    ization, however, Insight had to address
 deploying NetApp storage                           the storage environment. Insight’s existing
 Although virtualization had the potential                                                               Insight already had a storage solution from
                                                    servers used direct-attached storage (DAS)           NetApp for its file sharing when it decided
 to meet the challenge of equipment prolif-
                                                    with limited high-availability components.           to upgrade to a clustered FAS system.
 eration at Insight, the IT staff initially had     This model was already strained, given the           The new solution provides a unified storage
 concerns about implementing it. These              growth of both the number of applications            architecture with CIFS and NFS support for
 concerns ranged from added complexity              and their data requirements. Managing this           file sharing and iSCSI support for Insight’s
 and infrastructure requirements to the level       data—meeting backup, restore, and disaster           application server virtualization efforts, while
 of effort and staff training required, the risks   recovery SLAs—was taxing the IT staff. To            laying the foundation for high availability,
 of putting many key applications on one            provide the foundation for server virtualiza-        improved performance, and simplified data
 physical device, and the overall process           tion, Insight needed to move to a shared             management.
 changes required to run a virtualized infra-       networked storage solution.
 structure. An internal study, however, made
NetApp’s technology is ideal for virtualized       Insight deployed VMware Virtual Infrastructure    THE RESULTS
environments because our approach simpli-          3.0 on two Hewlett-Packard DL380 G3               Tripled IT resource utilization; conserved
fies and reduces the time and pain of provi-       servers, an HP DL360 G3 server, and a             server room space; and cut cooling,
sioning and spreads the storage load across        single HP DL380 G3 running a Microsoft SQL        power, and operating costs by an
many disks. Our data management tools for          database server for VMware Virtual Center.        estimated 65%
Exchange and SQL Server also enable                Each DL380 has 12GB of RAM as well as             Insight Investments now runs more than
storage administration directly from within        a limited amount of DAS. For the storage          15 virtual machines on three physical servers.
the applications, resulting in faster response     of the virtual machines, the VMware ESX           The combined virtualization solution from
to changing needs.                                 Servers utilize the VMware iSCSI software         VMware and NetApp tripled hardware
                                                   driver to connect to the NetApp FAS cluster.      utilization and slashed operating costs by
In addition to the primary storage deploy-         The VMware servers use quad-port copper           65%, including reduced power and cooling
ment, NetApp’s solution supported Insight’s        gigabit Ethernet cards to connect to sepa-        costs. “Power, cooling, and physical space
intention to add a disaster recovery site in       rate VLANs in Insight’s Cisco Catalyst 4000       requirements result in operational costs that
Chicago, an undertaking that was easily            switch. The VLANs are used to separate            can really add up,” Cotter says. “We will see
implemented using NetApp SnapMirror ®              normal client traffic from the SAN traffic.       the benefits of getting these costs under
software.                                          To monitor the storage systems, Insight           control for years to come. The NetApp and
Final virtualization implementation                uses NetApp Operations Manager software,          VMware solution has laid a foundation that
Insight developed a seven-step plan to move        which provides alerts, reports, and configu-      will enable us to keep our power and cooling
from a physical to a virtualized infrastructure.   ration tools for maximum availability and         costs under control, savings that drop right
This plan included deploying NetApp’s iSCSI        monitoring. Insight was able to leave all its     to our bottom line.
storage solution, implementing the VMware          original backup processes completely intact.
                                                                                                     “The amount of consolidation we were able
servers, and partitioning the network. Once        “We were able to leverage nearly our entire       to achieve was astounding,” Cotter continues.
those steps were completed, the company            original infrastructure, which is really impor-   “It looks like our server and storage inven-
began migrating one or two servers per             tant to a business our size,” Cotter reports.     tory went on a huge diet. Maintenance and
week, leveraging its preexisting maintenance       “In addition, VMware and NetApp storage           administration are now much easier, and we
schedule. Server virtualization was squeezed       provide Insight with a much more robust and       can deploy applications orders of magnitude
into other maintenance activities, such as         cost-effective platform for staging, testing,     faster and at a lower cost.”
loading security patches, making other             and integrating new applications and updates
application modifications, and performing          of existing applications into our environment.”
hardware maintenance. No special downtime
was required.
Insight’s server and storage consolidation          Increased availability and faster response          “Implementing a true disaster recovery
delivered numerous other savings and                Insight has dramatically reduced planned—           capability has been a goal for Insight for some
operational efficiencies as well.                   and unplanned—downtime by using VMware              time,” Cotter says. “But until now it has been
                                                    VirtualCenter and VMotion. Insight intelligently    a difficult and cost-prohibitive prospect.
Reduced equipment requirements                      optimizes resources and ensures high                NetApp’s solution combined with VMware
The consolidation of servers and storage            availability to all applications in virtual         virtualization has made it affordable to
reduced the number of racks at Insight              machines. NetApp’s data management                  implement a disaster recovery strategy that
from five to three. The reduction in physical       software simplifies and speeds tedious and          provides continuous data protection, high-
servers with attached storage eliminated the        time-consuming tasks, such as provisioning,         speed recovery, and ease of administration.”
need for a $20,000 uninterruptible power            to just a fraction of the previous time and
source (UPS) that had been earmarked for            effort. Insight can activate new projects in        Flexibility for ongoing improvement
the server room. Using virtual machines,            a hurry by quickly cloning a virtual machine        Some SMBs are concerned about making
Insight no longer has to purchase a new             (VM). This means the company has been               sweeping changes to their infrastructure, but
physical server each time a new application         able to speed its timelines for new appli-          Insight discovered that its new virtualized
is rolled out. The hardware savings over a          cations to support the growing business.            environment supports incremental rollout. The
year are significant.                                                                                   combined solution from NetApp and VMware
                                                    Disaster recovery capabilities                      supports this phased approach. At the
Insight’s rapidly growing network had used          The Yankee Group’s last U.S. Small & Medium         company’s monthly IT reviews of CPU and
up most of the gigabit ports on switches.           Business IT Infrastructure Survey found that        I/O utilization, Insight has continued to identify
The IT staff was under pressure to upgrade          the top concern of SMBs in 2007 is security,        other servers that can be consolidated,
switches and add interface cards. By provid-        closely followed by backup and restore, and         reducing power consumption and costs
ing higher utilization, virtualization eliminated   application and data availability. Virtualization   even more. “This is an ongoing process,”
this problem, reducing the amount of inter-         makes disaster recovery possible for budget-        Cotter says. “And that means the benefits
face cards and network ports on switches            constrained SMBs. Traditional disaster              are ongoing—and always increasing.”
that Insight required by 80%.                       recovery models are costly and complex,
                                                    requiring hardware to be duplicated. Using
                                                    a virtual-to-virtual server model, Insight can
                                                    now recover any machine within hours.
                                                    NetApp’s storage takes this a step further
                                                    by making replication to a remote site a
                                                    point-and-click operation.

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                                                                                                        without notice. NetApp, the Network Appliance logo, and SnapMirror
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