ForViva’s investment in a Dell XC hyper-converged Nutanix platform supplied and supported by Quadris has been a key enabler of their significant recent growth and transformed application performance.
Established in June 2015, ForViva has brought together City West Housing Trust, Villages Housing Association and construction company ForWorks under a group structure. The group owns and manages over 24,000 homes across the North West, delivering high-quality services for local communities.
ForViva’s IT infrastructure had evolved over the years, resulting in a complex, multi-platform, multi-vendor environment, siloed by function and requiring numerous management consoles. Bottlenecks in the infrastructure were causing latency and performance issues for their 350+ desktop users.
ForViva had experienced rapid growth and with this trend set to continue, they required reliable, robust and scalable IT. They also wanted to add functionality to their desktops, such as video broadcasting and utilising screensavers, but this wasn’t possible with their existing set up.
Their IT infrastructure was difficult and costly to manage and performance was continually falling short of users’ expectations. Planned enhancements, designed to accommodate expansion, regulation and faster decision-support, were being delayed by their infrastructure.
A particular frustration for the organisation and its users was a frequent drop in performance at peak times. A key industry application would refresh every morning, placing considerable strain on ForViva’s infrastructure and causing everyone’s desktop to run slow. The ICT team had limited visibility of the issue, which was impacting staff productivity.
ForViva considered upgrading their current infrastructure, but realised this wouldn’t resolve operational inefficiencies, deliver the scalability they required or deliver value for money. In parallel, Quadris highlighted risks relating to infrastructure weaknesses, disaster recovery limitations and the potential for data loss within the organisation, which clearly demonstrated the need and value of a technology refresh.
Following a rigorous tender process, ForViva chose Quadris as their provider, based on Quadris’ expertise, sector-specific experience and end-to-end delivery capability. Quadris proposed a hyper-converged infrastructure solution, ideally suited to ForViva’s requirements and capable of resolving the shortcomings of ForViva’s traditional three-tier SAN environment. Quadris designed and deployed an eight-node Dell XC hyper-converged cluster to replace the entire production environment.
A hyper-converged platform is a model architecture for ForViva, delivering the perfect blend of performance, capacity and operational simplicity. ‘Rapid deployment’ is another key attribute of hyper-convergence; this enabled Quadris to install the new environment in just 48 hours, with all production VMs migrated within three weeks.
Quadris provided full training and documentation, including valuable skills-transfer to equip the ForViva ICT team with the requisite knowledge to manage and operate the new environment.
Quadris also proposed re-purposing some of the existing equipment, relocating this to a secondary site to be used for disaster recovery. This was a unique feature of the Quadris proposal which helped ForViva realise even bigger savings (through the cost deferral of replacement new equipment).
The new hyper-converged platform incorporated VMware replication for non-critical workloads and the use of ‘Zerto’ to achieve the stated RTO and RPO’s required for ForViva’s mission-critical workloads.
ForViva also bought Quadris’ Prevensys monitoring and diagnostics service to provide a holistic, correlated view of ForViva’s entire infrastructure. Prevensys enables ForViva’s ICT team to proactively monitor and diagnose problems from within a single management console. The same service also reports to Quadris’ operations hub for round-the-clock monitoring and remediation.
Quadris was chosen as the preferred partner due to their expert knowledge of hyper-converged technology and the quality of their support services, backed up by their Prevensys network monitoring system. Quadris consultants also possess the highest levels of accreditation with complementary technologies (VMware, Microsoft and Citrix), which formed an essential part of the VDI re-design and deployment exercise. Most importantly, Quadris delivered the whole project using in-house resource only, something that no other providers were able to offer.
Capacity and scalability
Since implementing the new infrastructure, ForViva has acquired a large company, which increased the number of users by over 50 per cent. Due to the ‘plug and play’ nature of the Nutanix solution, Quadris has easily expanded the hyper-converged cluster, adding additional nodes completely non-disruptively (during business hours). This has provided ForViva with the additional capacity required, without any service disruption or operational impact.
60 per cent cost reduction
A critical success metric for ForViva has been the ability to drive significant savings from deploying a hyper-converged solution. ForViva efficiency gains can be summarised as follows:
- 60 per cent reduction in annual datacentre costs;
- 8:1 rack-density increase;
- 72 per cent reduction in power consumption;
- 50 per cent reduction in management overhead.
RPO (recovery point objective)
One of ForViva’s more challenging requirements was to move to a sub-10 seconds recovery point objective (RPO) for critical workloads to minimise the risk of data loss in the event of various disaster recovery scenarios. Quadris’ experience with a wide range of disaster recovery solutions enabled them to identify and implement a solution using VMware replication and Zerto to achieve this.
Quick and simple management
The new environment has been hugely simplified. ForViva has collapsed several discrete layers of the infrastructure (numerous separate components) into a single, unified platform. Disparate management tools have been consolidated into a fully-integrated management console (‘a single pane of glass’). Provisioning resources is just a few simple mouse clicks within the UI, which has reduced the need for expensive specialist domain expertise.
Efficient IT support
The hyper-converged solution has also streamlined ForViva’s support and reduced total administration time. Sophisticated self-healing capabilities mean that problems within the Nutanix cluster are detected and resolved automatically, providing faster mean time to resolution (MTTR), for any issues that arise. The Prevensys monitoring solution provides an additional layer of proactive diagnostics and alerting, all of which has helped to achieve new levels of performance and reliability.
Mark Sullivan, assistant director of ICT, ForViva, said, “Quadris proved themselves highly capable and are a great asset to our organisation. Their solution has improved the performance of our business applications, reliability has been transformed and our data centre costs have fallen by 60 per cent. Crucial to our strategy, we have unlimited scalability that is easy to install and this has already been put in place. We recently added 25 per cent additional capacity to compute and storage to support an acquisition which was implemented within hours with zero downtime.”