Server consolidation gains boost trading house’s national business bid

Case Study

Server consolidation gains boost trading house’s national business bid

When Anand Maliwal joined Destimoney Securities as the CTO in April 2011, its business volumes were seeing a rapid rise across India. The existing infrastructure of over 50 end-of-life physical servers did its best to thwart the trading house’s lofty goals — high failure rates constantly incurred a 100% per rack cost quarter on quarter. Server consolidation provided a ray of hope.

With its primary focus on the financial services business, availability was a major concern for Destimoney. With stock and commodity broking as its mainstay, the trading application front-end needs to be up and running on a 100% basis during trading hours, explains Maliwal. Even a minute’s downtime can cause serious unsalvageable disruption to the business.

In 2010, Destimoney formalized a new business plan with an emphasis on expanding operations pan-India. This resulted in the IT team under Maliwal opting for a server consolidation and virtualization project to supports this venture.

Issues galore

Other solutions considered

  • HP - C7000 with BL460G7, OEM VMware License, as well as P6300 along with HP networking
  • IBM - BladeCenter H with HS22 blades and IBM StoreWize V7000

Destimoney’s infrastructure consisted of 50-odd physical servers that were nearly six years old, and no central storage. The physical servers were distributed on-premise as well as at a hosted data center. The mission critical application servers (such as ODIN and Omnesys) were hosted in the data center. Other utility servers were located in Destimoney’s server room. The principal trading applications are supported by back-office applications and middleware.

At this point, failure rates had increased considerably. A decision was taken to replace the key trading servers as well as add capacity to deal with increasing business volumes — the team worked under tremendous cost constraints.

Product evaluation

Destimoney’s decision kicked off the migration of IT infrastructure from physical servers to a completely virtualized environment. This was achieved using blade server hardware from Dell and solutions from VMware. In addition, Destimoney opted for storage from Compellent and a firewall from Fortinet.

After the initial legwork conducted in-house, the team contacted HP, IBM and Dell. According to Maliwal, Destimoney went with Dell due to its favorable “deal as a bundle”. Dell promised to manage the entire implementation, as well as provide three year hardware support. The bundled central storage from Compellent helped swing the deal in Dell’s favor.

Implementing server consolidation

Blade server: Fully populated M1000e blade chassis

  • 6 x Dell PowerEdge M710HD with two Hex Core Processors / 96 GB RAM / Two 10 Gb NIC ports / two FC HBA Ports – Six Nos.
  • 2 x PowerConnect M8024k 10GbE managed Ethernet switch
  • 2 x Brocade M5424 FC8 fiber channel switch (12 ports + 2 x SFP)
  • 2 x Dell Power Connect 6424 Ethernet s witches with 10G uplink ports

Compellent storage solution

  • SC40 dual controller
  • DAE –Two Nos.
  • SAS – 450 GB – 15K RPM – 17 drives
  • NL SAS - 2 TB - 7.2 K RPM – 7 Drives

VMware licenses

  • 12 processor licenses of vSphere 5.0 Enterprise Edition
  • vCenter Server 5 for vSphere

Firewall

  • FortinetFG200B x 2with FortiAnalyzer FAZ100c

The server consolidation implementation proceeded in parallel with the existing setup to avoid downtime. Post evaluation, Destimoney’s team formulated a project plan timeline. Maliwal broke up the timeline into three stages.

1) Setting up the infrastructure and powering on.

2) Implementing the VMware environment and associated functionality.

3) On readiness of virtualized infrastructure, migration of applications.

The implementation was set in motion in September 2011. The initial orders with Dell were placed in January 2012, and the first applications were migrated by end of March. Destimoney moved completely to its virtualized server setup by end May 2012.

Destimoney had to reconfigure its applications to suit the new environment, says Maliwal. Destimoney’s trading applications operate in a highly connected environment. These need to connect to several exchanges and over thirty Indian sites. Since Destimoney’s data center was also shifted during this process, the team also had to factor in connectivity and operability. The data migration was handled by Destimoney.

Post set up, a pilot was performed with one of the trading applications, and tested from all locations. The server virtualization project went online once the pilot testing was given a green light.  

The project required training for Maliwal’s team, due to the physical to virtual transition. Destimoney’s 50+ physical servers were consolidated on six blade servers. The consolidated server setup is managed completely in-house, says Maliwal.

Gains and challenges

Since this was an entirely new setup, Maliwal and team had the freedom to customize solutions and the required timelines. The entire server consolidation project proved easy to sell internally, says Maliwal. According to him, the server consolidation project has paid off from day one.

Destimoney was able to reach an OPEX arrangement with Dell, where the hardware is paid for on a pay-as-you-go basis. According to Maliwal, the remaining four racks’ operating cost was sufficient to pay for the entire new infrastructure. While costs have remained the same, Destimoney’s IT has migrated to a new setup, which is sufficient for at least two years. Application availability has also seen a tremendous increase, says Maliwal.

Coming from a setup of over 50 physical servers with daily failures to a new setup with a centralized dashboard means a reduction in terms of resources and manpower. The capacity footprint has also reduced drastically. In scenarios where the earlier infrastructure operated at 100% capacity, the present setup runs at 30% capacity, says Maliwal.

He says that management has also improved phenomenally. At the moment, Destimoney is in the midst of planning disaster recovery and virtual desktop infrastructure initiatives.


This was first published in November 2012