|By Dana Gardner||
|October 12, 2012 07:00 AM EDT||
Server virtualization success quickly set the stage for private-cloud benefits for banking services provider, BancVue. And that cloud enablement then provided business agility to BancVue's community bank customers, enabling them to better compete against mega banks on such critical areas as customer service and end-user portals.
Learn here how BancVue creates the services that empower its customers to beat the giants in their field by better leveraging agile IT. Sunny Nair, Vice President of IT and Systems Operations at BancVue in Austin, Texas, discusses the journey with BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Many companies these days need to tackle the dual task of cutting costs, while also increasing agility and providing better services and response times to their constituents. How did you accomplish both?
Nair: The first thing we wanted to do was to abstract the applications and the operating system from the hardware so that a hardware failure wouldn’t bring down our systems. For that, of course, we went to virtualization. We experimented with various virtualization products. Out of those trials, vSphere was the best software for a heterogeneous environment like ours, where we had Windows and different flavors of Linux.
So we stuck with VMware, and that helped us abstract the hardware layer and our software layer, so we can move our operating systems and our virtual servers to different pieces of hardware, when there was a hardware issue on one server, enabling us to be more agile.
Instead of running just one server on one piece of hardware, we were able to run anywhere between 12 and 20 different servers. All servers weren’t utilized at 100 percent all the time. We were able to leverage the CPU to its full capacity and run many more servers. So we had, at a minimum, a 12x increase in our server capacity on each piece of hardware. That definitely did help our costs.
Gardner: Tell us a little bit about BancVue.
Nair: BancVue is a financial services software and marketing company. We help community financial institutions compete with mega banks by providing them marketing expertise, software expertise, and data consultation expertise, and all those things require technology and software.
For many of our partners we provide the website that many people land on when they search for the website on the Internet. And we also provide the gateway to their online banking. So it's extremely important for the website to stay up and online.
In addition to that, we also provide rewards checking calculations, interest rate calculations, which customer is qualified for certain products, and so on. We are definitely a part of the ecosystem for the financial institution.
Gardner: Once you settled on your strategy for virtualizing your workloads and supporting your heterogeneity issues, how did that unfold?
Nair: It was a step-by-step approach of wading deeper into the virtualization world. Our first step was just getting that abstraction layer that I was talking about by virtualizing our servers. Then, we looked at it and we said, "Well, from vSphere we can use vMotion and move our virtual servers around. And we can consolidate our storage on a storage-attached network (SAN)." That helped us disengage further from each piece of hardware.
Then, we can look at vCenter Operations Manager and predict when a server is going to run out of capacity. That was one of the areas where we started experimenting, and that proved very fruitful. That experiment was just earlier this year.
Once we did that, we downloaded some trial software with the help of VMware, which is one of the benefits that we found. We didn’t have to pay up immediately. We could see if it suited our needs first.
We used vCloud Director as a trial, and vShield and vCenter Orchestrator together. Once we put all those pieces together, we were able to get the true benefit of virtualization, which is being in a cloud where not only are you abstracted out, but you can also predict when your hardware is going to run out.
You can move to a different data center, if the need happens to be there and just run your server farm like a power utility would run their power station, building out the computing resources necessary for a user or a customer, and then shutting that off when it’s no longer necessary, all within the same hardware grid.
Fit for purpose
Gardner: I suppose it also gets to that point of cutting your total costs, when you can manage that as a fit-for-purpose exercise. It's the Goldilocks approach -- not too much, not too little. That’s especially important, when you have an ecosystem play, where you can’t always predict what your customers are going to be doing or demanding.
One admin can do the work of at least three admins, once we’ve fully implemented the cloud, because the buildup and takedown are some of the most expensive portions of creating a server. You can automate that fully and not have to worry about the takedown, because you can say, "Three days from now please remove the server from the grid." Then, the admin can go do some other tasksWe run Dell hardware, Dell servers, and Dell blades, and that's where we run production. In development, we also use Dell hardware, where we just use the R610s, 710s, and 810s, basically small machines, but with a fairly good amount of power. We can load up to 20 servers on in development, and as many as 12 in production. We run about 275 VMs today.
Our production software is software as a service (SaaS), so a majority of that runs on IIS Web servers, with SQL backend. We also use some new cutting-edge database technologies, MongoDB, which also runs on a virtual system.
In addition, we have our infrastructure, like our customer relationship management (CRM), for which we use SugarCRM, and our ticketing system, which is JIRA, and our collaboration tool called Confluence, as well as our build system, which is TeamCity.
All run on VMs. Our infrastructure is powered on VMs, so it’s pretty important that it stays up. It’s one of the reasons that we think running it on a SAN, with the ability to use VMotion, does help our uptime.
A few different things attracted us to VMware. One of them was the fact that VMware fully supported different operating systems. A I said earlier, we run Red Hat, as well as Debian and Windows. When we ran those on different public and other proprietary virtualization products, we found different issues in each one.
For example, one of them had a time drift, where it didn’t keep time as well as it did on Windows. On Linux the time always seemed to drift a little bit. Apparently they hadn’t mastered that. Some free products did not have the ability to run Windows. They could run other versions of Linux. They couldn't run Windows properly at the time we were testing. But VMware, out of the box, could run all those operating systems.
The second thing was the support level. We didn’t want to be running our production system, put a bug out there in the community, and wait for someone to answer while we were down. We wanted to be able to pick up the phone, ask someone immediately, and get knowledgeable support. So support was a key ingredient in our selection.
We do have that option today when we have an issue. We can call up VMware and get that support. So it was support, compatibility, and the overall ecosystem. We knew that as we grew, we wouldn’t have to switch to another vendor to get cloud. We knew that we could go to VMware and get the cloud solution, as well as the virtualization solution, because virtualization was just the first step to us to become fully virtualized in a private cloud environment, with software, security like vShield and vCenter Operations Manager.
We actually had a little virtualization lab, where we practiced these things, because as the old adage says, practice does make perfect. The next thing was that we rolled it out in incremental steps to one product, and then eventually to a larger development group.
Gardner: Looking to the future, is there anything about mobile support or increasing the types of services that you're going to provide to your community banks, more along the lines of extended services that you provide and they brand? Do you think that this cloud environment is going to enable you to pursue that?
Nair: Yes, we’ve already started down that path. We have mobile support for the websites that we’ve created, and we’ve just implemented that earlier this year. Eventually, we plan to go into the online banking space and provide online banking for mobile devices. All that will be done in our cloud infrastructure. So yes, it’s here to stay.
We want to look further at the automation that the cloud products would give us, especially with security in vShield. It’s pretty interesting how we can have a virtual firewall with our VMs and look at the other mobile software that's available.
You may also be interested in:
- Learn why success greets NYSE Euronext's Community Platform for Capital Markets cloud
- VMware CTO Steve Herrod on How the Software-Defined Datacenter Benefits Enterprises
- Legal services leader and SMB Foley & Lardner makes strong case for BYOD
- Ocean Observatories Initiative: Cloud and Big Data come together to give scientists unprecedented access to essential climate insights
- Case Study: Strategic Approach to Disaster Recovery and Data Lifecycle Management Pays Off for Australia's SAI Global
- Columbia Sportswear extends deep server virtualization to improved ERP operations, disaster recovery efficiencies
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Jan. 26, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 2,488
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
Jan. 26, 2015 12:45 AM EST Reads: 3,430
SYS-CON Events announced today that ActiveState, the leading independent Cloud Foundry and Docker-based PaaS provider, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. ActiveState believes that enterprises gain a competitive advantage when they are able to quickly create, deploy and efficiently manage software solutions that immediately create business value, but they face many challenges that prevent them from doing so. The Company is uniquely positioned to help address these challenges thro...
Jan. 25, 2015 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,758
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Jan. 25, 2015 07:45 PM EST Reads: 2,302
SYS-CON Media announced that Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow, has launched a new ad campaign in Cloud Computing Journal. The ad campaign, a webcast titled 'Is Your Data Center Ready for the Application Economy?', focuses on the latest data center networking technologies, including SDN or ACI, and how customers are using SDN and ACI in their organizations to achieve business agility. The Cisco webcast is available on-demand.
Jan. 25, 2015 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,215
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Jan. 25, 2015 06:15 PM EST Reads: 3,788
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Jan. 25, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 2,987
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
Jan. 25, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 2,713
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
Jan. 25, 2015 04:30 PM EST Reads: 3,020
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
Jan. 25, 2015 04:00 PM EST Reads: 2,423
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
Jan. 25, 2015 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,543
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
Jan. 25, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 2,432
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 25, 2015 02:30 PM EST Reads: 2,239
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
Jan. 25, 2015 02:15 PM EST Reads: 2,853
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Jan. 25, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 3,765
“The age of the Internet of Things is upon us,” stated Thomas Svensson, senior vice-president and general manager EMEA, ThingWorx, “and working with forward-thinking companies, such as Elisa, enables us to deploy our leading technology so that customers can profit from complete, end-to-end solutions.” ThingWorx, a PTC® (Nasdaq: PTC) business and Internet of Things (IoT) platform provider, announced on Monday that Elisa, Finnish provider of mobile and fixed broadband subscriptions, will deploy ThingWorx® platform technology to enable a new Elisa IoT service in Finland and Estonia.
Jan. 25, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,461
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and expertise to guard against those threats. But will that be enough? In the foreseeable future attacks w...
Jan. 25, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,857
As enterprises move to all-IP networks and cloud-based applications, communications service providers (CSPs) – facing increased competition from over-the-top providers delivering content via the Internet and independently of CSPs – must be able to offer seamless cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions that can scale for small, midsize, and large enterprises, as well as public sector organizations, in order to keep and grow market share. The latest version of Oracle Communications Unified Communications Suite gives CSPs the capability to do just that. In addition, its integration ...
Jan. 25, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,801
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, a...
Jan. 25, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 2,930
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Jan. 25, 2015 10:30 AM EST Reads: 2,259