Edge Project of the Year
MeDirect (Malta) was founded in 2004, and as well as providing banking and financial services to the local population, it offers online savings, investment and wealth management under the MeDirect brand in Belgium. The company employs more than 250 people, with locations across Malta, as well as remote sites in London and Brussels.
The bank previously used physical shared storage with six year old servers that were approaching their end of life. The data protection infrastructure performed a variety of roles depending on the location, including vital security components such as the operation of the main office’s front gate and the handling of highly sensitive data such as new customer applications. The London and Belgian sites had critical business virtual machines running on multiple old servers with local storage and wanted to consolidate, while at the same time improving performance and resiliency. In Malta, the Business Intelligence team had a special requirement to implement a new solution, consisting of web, apps and network storage for the Qlickview operations that had to be available even in disaster recovery scenarios. For all three sites, a modern, lightweight and flexible solution was needed to provide the high availability that was vital to the bank’s operations.
Through research of the options available, Julian Vella, MeDirect Malta’s Architect, IT Systems, came across StorMagic SvSAN. Their need for a low cost solution that minimized hardware footprint made SvSAN an ideal fit and stood out from a number of other virtualised options where additional hardware would have been required. Julian ruled out a physical SAN for the London and Brussels remote sites simply because of the geographical distance and the need to minimize footprint and maintenance. StorMagic SvSAN was selected because it met all of the key requirements: high availability, small footprint and low cost.
Because SvSAN is software-defined and enables high availability between two servers, the uptime requirement was met, and CAPEX costs were lowered significantly. In fact, the bank has achieved 99.9% continuous uptime since installation. And for their London and Belgium locations, the bank saved approximately €80,000 in capital costs that would have been required if buying new external storage..
In Malta, the bank implemented a stretch cluster using SvSAN, allowing synchronous mirroring between two physical sites, providing additional resiliency and protection from local site outages. With this solution, all virtual machines in the cluster are always synchronized, and MeDirect (Malta) has the ability to move the VMs between its edge sites without any disruption.
The deployment of SvSAN occurred at the same time that MeDirect (Malta) refreshed its hardware. This is a common model that allows the end user to not only realize the benefits that SvSAN brings, but to do so on the latest infrastructure, configured to their precise needs. In the case of MeDirect (Malta), the refresh saw the installation of Lenovo servers running VMware vSphere hypervisors. At the Malta HQ site, eighteen drives ranging from 500GB to 800GB were installed per server alongside two SSDs for additional performance. At the remote Brussels and London sites, storage requirements were smaller, with seven drives per server at each site with a mixture of capacities of 500GB and 1.8TB. With the lower storage requirements, no SSDs were required at these branch locations.
The IT Project has delivered a range of benefits to MeDirect (Malta) in terms of cost reduction and improved business efficiencies. Their overall datacenter footprint decreased since there is no need for external centralized storage, and the benefit of using two node cluster reduces rack space requirements. Their requirement for physical storage was eliminated along with the additional expenditure on cooling, power consumption and maintenance. By reducing their reliance on physical hardware and moving to virtual SANs, the bank modernized their architecture and enjoyed much improved resiliency. They avoided the purchase and installation of physical SANs which would have been significantly more expensive and more complex than virtualization, particularly at the remote sites in Belgium and the UK, and over time. To further quantify, OPEX costs have been reduced by €12-13,000 per year through virtualization.
“StorMagic SvSAN helps our branches achieve the availability required to operate in the extremely secure, fast-paced world of banking,” said Julian Vella, MeDirect’s Architect, IT Systems. “Their virtual SAN software is exactly what we needed to deliver the uptime and simplicity of management - while keeping to a very tight budget.”