|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 addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Jul. 25, 2016 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,136
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
Jul. 25, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,207
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
Jul. 25, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,247
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Jul. 25, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,873
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jul. 25, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,483
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,260
“delaPlex Software provides software outsourcing services. We have a hybrid model where we have onshore developers and project managers that we can place anywhere in the U.S. or in Europe,” explained Manish Sachdeva, CEO at delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,501
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
Jul. 24, 2016 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,981
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Jul. 24, 2016 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,956
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Jul. 24, 2016 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,126
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jul. 24, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,465
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
Jul. 24, 2016 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,855
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jul. 24, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,697
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,058
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Jul. 24, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,931
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,764
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
Jul. 24, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,362
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
Jul. 24, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,037
What are the successful IoT innovations from emerging markets? What are the unique challenges and opportunities from these markets? How did the constraints in connectivity among others lead to groundbreaking insights? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Carmen Feliciano, a Principal at AMDG, will answer all these questions and share how you can apply IoT best practices and frameworks from the emerging markets to your own business.
Jul. 24, 2016 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,551
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Jul. 24, 2016 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,727