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Sanlam quickly and safely relocates its assets with IBM XIV
Migrating business-critical data in a single weekend
Based in Cape Town, the Sanlam Group is one of South Africa’s largest insurance companies, with more than 10,000 employees. The company began as a life insurance specialist, but has grown and diversiﬁed to offer a broad spectrum of insurance, risk management and investment services throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The company also has operations in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Australia and India. The Sanlam Group also owns a 55.9 percent shareholding in Santam, a specialist short-term insurance company that enjoys more than 20 percent market share in South Africa. Until recently, Sanlam and Santam operated almost entirely independently and had completely separate IT infrastructures. Sanlam’s main data centers were located in Cape Town, while Santam’s were 1,500 km away in Johannesburg.
To create synergies and reduce costs, Sanlam wanted to centralize its Information Technology at its Cape Town data centers. However, the IT infrastructure of its subsidiary, Santam, was located in Johannesburg, some 1,500 km away.
Santam’s data was migrated from its existing EMC storage in Johannesburg onto two IBM® XIV® Storage Systems, which were then moved across the country to Cape Town. The entire switch over was completed in just one weekend.
“We wanted to create some synergies between the two organizations that would help us simplify the operational landscape and reduce costs,” explains Johan de Lange, end-to-end integration architect at Sanlam. “Ultimately, the plan is to rationalize the infrastructure landscape, create shared services, and so on. But as a ﬁrst stage, we needed to consolidate the physical IT infrastructure itself. This called for a major data center relocation project.” The project team needed to create a plan for moving the Santam infrastructure to Sanlam’s Cape Town data centers. The maximum permissible downtime for Santam’s systems was four days, and it was vital to include a contingency plan that would allow a rollback to Johannesburg in case the relocation failed. As a result, the whole operation needed to be organized with military precision in order to complete it within this timeframe.
The data migration and storage relocation was completed with no data loss and minimal downtime. The IBM XIV storage system improves performance and has enabled Sanlam to reduce costs.
A critical VMware environment
One of the major pieces in the relocation plan related to Santam’s x86 environment—a mixture of IBM System x3650 and other x86 processor-based servers, running Novell Open Enterprise Server for ﬁle, print and network services, Novell GroupWise for
IBM XIV Storage Systems Case Study
“The real ‘wow factor’ was the ease and speed of migration that the XIV tools provide… If we hadn’t had these tools, I have serious doubts whether the relocation would have been possible in the time allowed.”
—Johan de Lange, end-to-end integration architect, Sanlam
email, and a number of Microsoft® SQL Server databases, all in a virtualized environment managed by VMware. These servers were supported by two EMC CX3-40 storage systems mirrored between the two Johannesburg data centers. The EMC systems were old and expensive to maintain, and the company wanted to ﬁnd a new platform to replace them. “The big issue was moving the data itself from one location to the other—so we looked for a storage technology that could meet our two key requirements,” comments de Lange. “First, we needed migration and mirroring tools that we could use to transfer and synchronize the data quickly enough to meet our deadlines. Second, we wanted a high degree of resilience to minimize the risk of hardware damage and data loss while the system was in transit from Johannesburg to Cape Town.”
Unique advantages of IBM XIV
Based on direct experience, Sanlam realized that the IBM XIV Storage System would be an ideal platform for these requirements. The XIV solution includes a highly intuitive data migration tool, which replicates data from other storage systems very rapidly and without signiﬁcant production downtime. IBM XIV Storage Systems stripe and mirror data across a massively parallelized grid architecture of highcapacity SATA disks, ensuring that even if an individual disk fails, the system can rebuild it automatically using the contents of other disks in a very short time without the impact on production performance often found in traditional RAID-based storage systems. This would help to reduce the danger of data loss during the move.
Managing a complex relocation
With support from IBM Global Financing, Sanlam purchased two additional IBM XIV Storage Systems from TCM, an IBM Business Partner. The Sanlam in-house team then worked with a second Business Partner, BCX, to install them in the primary Santam data center. Using the migration tools, approximately 40 TB of production data was migrated from the primary EMC storage system onto both XIV systems. Sanlam then set up synchronous mirroring between the EMC system and the two XIV systems with approximately 80 TB of capacity, so that both XIV systems contained a perfect, up-to-the-second copy of the production data on the EMC system. Next, one of the IBM XIV Storage Systems (the “Voyager XIV”) was taken out of the mirror, loaded onto a truck and transported to Cape Town, leaving the other XIV system (the “Primary XIV”) running the production environment in Johannesburg. The Voyager XIV was installed at the secondary Cape Town data center and tested to check the integrity of the data and to ensure that all the VMware servers that were connected to it would boot correctly. This testing phase was a complete success, so Sanlam decided to go ahead with the relocation.
IBM XIV Storage Systems Case Study
IBM Solution Components
IBM® XIV® Storage System IBM System x® 3650
IBM UniVerse Database
Over a weekend, the Santam systems were taken offline, and the Primary XIV was loaded onto a charter plane and ﬂown to Cape Town. The Primary XIV was then installed at the primary Cape Town data center, and all the production data was replicated onto the Voyager XIV at the secondary data center using IBM Metro Mirror. A bidirectional mirror was set up between the two XIV systems, and then the VMware servers were booted up to restart the production environment.
IBM Global Financing
Running like clockwork
“In total, the whole project required less than three days’ downtime for Santam’s production systems—well within the four-day target,” says de Lange. “It was a really remarkable success, and the real ‘wow factor’ was the ease and speed of migration that the XIV migration tools provide. Whether you’re moving or mirroring data between two IBM XIV Storage Systems or migrating data between EMC and XIV platforms, it’s a very rapid and nondisruptive process. If we hadn’t had these tools, I have serious doubts whether the relocation would have been possible in the time allowed.”
“IBM XIV has proved itself as an important strategic platform for the future of both Sanlam and Santam.”
—Johan de Lange, end-to-end integration architect, Sanlam
As an additional beneﬁt, the IBM XIV Storage Systems provide better performance for the company’s Microsoft SQL Server databases than the previous storage platform, especially during periods of heavy workload. This is because the XIV architecture has a high degree of parallelization—delivering more throughput than traditional Fibre Channel storage systems, even though it uses less expensive SATA disks. In some cases, database response times have improved by as much as ﬁve seconds thanks to the XIV infrastructure—helping business users analyze data and make better decisions more quickly. Johan de Lange concludes: “All the infrastructure for both Sanlam and Santam now runs in Cape Town. This consolidation exercise will obviously deliver considerable savings, since our facilities costs will be signiﬁcantly reduced and a single IT team will be able manage all systems. BCX, IBM, Santam IT Management and Sanlam ITISS teams deserve a lot of credit for handling the relocation so successfully—and IBM XIV has proved itself as an important strategic platform for the future of both Sanlam and Santam.”
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Microsoft® Windows® Server 2003, Novell Open Enterprise Server SLES
Microsoft SQL Oracle
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AJS Citrix JBOSS JDEdwards Novell GroupWise Trend QlikView
VMware ESX Server 4.1
For more information
Contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/storage/disk/xiv/ For more information about Sanlam, visit: www.sanlam.co.za For more information about Sanlam, visit: www.santam.co.za For more information about TCM, visit: www.tcm.co.za For more information about BCX, visit: www.bcx.co.za
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