I had an opportunity to ask Genworth Financial
's Ryan Lane, IT Team Leader, and Adam Webb, IT Solutions Architect, a few questions about how their organization is using tools from xkoto, Inc
. Thanks Ryan and Adam for finding time to help me understand what Genworth is doing.
Please tell me who you are and a bit about your organization.
Genworth Financial, Inc. is a leading financial security company providing retirement income, life and long term care insurance, Medicare supplement insurance, related financial and wellness advisory services as well as mortgage insurance to more than 15 million customers more than 25 countries. Internationally, we partner with lenders and financial institutions to deliver innovative mortgage insurance and personal protection products that enable consumers to make the most of life’s opportunities. Here's a capsule description of the company from our website
"Genworth Financial is a global company with more than $110 billion in assets, employing more than 7,000 people and serving the needs of more than 15 million customers. We became a publicly-traded company in 2004, are a component of Standard & Poor’s 500 index of leading U.S. companies and are ranked in the Fortune 500."
What does your organization do that needs what xkoto offers?
We are migrating a high-volume mainframe-based application to a multi-tier, Linux distributed platform. The application’s data layer runs on DB2 Universal Database for Linux. Out of the box DB2 doesn’t offer a solution for scalability with high-availability using commodity hardware. We needed a way to allow us to scale as our application load increased, provide hot failover capabilities, and replication to a disaster recovery site. We had to meet these critical needs while still making use of inexpensive hardware and the reliable Linux platform.
What products were considered before xkoto product, Gridscale was selected?
We considered IBM's High availability disaster recovery (HADR), queue based replication, and Avokia ApLive
Why was xkoto Gridscae selected over the competition?
Gridscale allows us to use low-cost hardware, maintain application uptime, scale with increasing user load and replicate to our disaster recovery site. It also enables flexibility with job execution and backup processes that is not possible with base DB2.
What tangible benefits has your organization gotten from the deployment of xkoto Gridscale?
The benefits they've received mirror the reasons the product was chosen: the use of low-cost hardware, the ability to maintain uptime, the ability to scale with increasing user load while also being able to replicate important data to the company's disaster recovery site.
Genworth intends to use Gridscale to offline a node to parallelize the backup portion of the batch cycle
Do you have any advice for others who may be facing similar challenges?
Here's a short list of suggestions.
A bit about xkoto
- Allow ample time for testing.
- Involve your database vendor while evaluating options.
- Evaluate the longevity of the solution provider and their strength in the marketplace.
- For those who are implementing this type of solution in conjunction with an off-the-shelf application it is important to spend time analyzing every way that the application interacts with the database (e.g. via updateable cursors, dynamic SQL, DB2 command utilities, high and low values, etc.).
. was founded in 2005 as a result of research and development work at Halcyon Monitoring Solutions Inc.
, an infrastructure management vendor with a global customer base including small, medium and large organizations from every industry.
Drawing on emerging ideas from utility, grid, and commodity computing, xkoto's concept of database load balancing arose out of efforts to help customers manage their web infrastructure. The company's founders, Albert Lee (CEO), Ariff Kassam (CTO), and Dr. Jeff Heisz (VP, Head of Engineering & Research) are building upon their previous track record of success and experience gathered while at Hylcyon.
The corporate charter for xkoto is well expressed in its etymology: "xkoto" is a transliteration of two Greek words which taken together convey the idea of "out of darkness, out of chaos". In effect, xkoto intends to "turn the lights on", transforming emerging technologies into productive solutions.
xkoto has looked at the challenge of virtualizing the data supported by database-based applications, considered how others have addressed the challenge in the past, and have developed something quite different. Rather than trying to decypher database engine's buffers, the operating system's storage buffers or scan the storage subsystem for updates and changes, xkoto has found a way to track the SQL statements fed to the database by applications. This appearantly simple change has resulted in a much more efficient, much simpler approach to virtualizing database access to create a more highly scalable, more highly reliable environment.
Since xkoto faces competition from database suppliers, storage system suppliers and several other quarters, they're going to need more than innovative technology, however.. xkoto's focus on partnerships and alliances will certainly help.
If an organization is facing issues that resemble those Genworth is addressing, examining xkoto Gridscale would be very useful.