Takaful Malaysia virtualizes servers for cost-efficiency

Malaysian shariah-compliant insurance company saw cost savings and greater efficiency after consolidating three separate backup products in its servers, which it believes is the first step of the virtualization journey.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Takaful Malaysia case study

What: Transitioning from three backup softwares by different vendors to a consolidated virtualized solution
How: Replaced with a single virtualized solution which saw a single console managing backups, and moved from multiple servers to physical servers
Results: Reduction maintenance cost of US$200,000 per annum, 40 percent reduction in storage, management of backend infrastructure lowered by 30 percent per day

Takaful Malaysia managed to save in terms of cost and efficiency while migrating from a physical to a virtualized server and reduce using multiple vendors.

The Malaysian shariah-compliant insurance company's data management infrastructure had been unable to keep up with data growth with its business's fast growth, Patrick Wong, CIO of Takaful Malaysia, noted. The current data management solution did not deduplicate its source, resulting in high traffic volume and caused network disruptions, he told ZDNet Asia in an interview on Monday.

Takaful traditionally ran multiple servers but realized it needed to invest in more physical servers, Wong pointed out. Moving to virtualization will save costs and reduce footprints of data centers, he noted.

Before implementing a consolidated virtualization solution, Takaful had been using three backup softwares from three different vendors, Wong explained. However, the company found it difficult to manage the different backup software and also needed additional resources to manage them, he noted, adding it had been a "hassle".

Takaful then implemented CommVault's Simpana Software which reduced the time it managed its backup significantly, he said. The software is able to conduct backup and recovery, replication, and archive modules with embedded deduplication and virtualization support all on a single platform.

Virtualizing the Enterprise: An overview

Instead of having two to three employees managing the backups, it managed to do so with a single console, which creates returns on investment (ROI) in terms of saving time.

This has resulted in its infrastructure being able to scale up to 80TB of data, a reduction of annual licensing maintenance costs of $200,000 ringgit (US$66,000) per annum and 40 percent reduction in storage and network transmissions for data management, Wong pointed out.

The management of its backend infrastructure was also lowered by 30 percent per day, compared to two hours in the past, while an IT operator now takes 15 minutes to recover a virtual machine as compared to two hours in the past, he added.

"The business is moving toward electronics, so we saw the need to build a more robust environment and ensure higher availability," Wong said.

Other than provisioning issue such as machine spillover, the biggest challenge experienced during migration was on application compatibility, Wong explained.

Most applications are Web-enabled, and on the browser itself so companies with hosted environments such as running on Windows 2000, could face operating system (OS) incompatibility during the migration process, he noted.

Virtualize back-end first before end user

As for desktop virtualization, Takaful is not considering it as part of the IT transformation roadmap yet, as high bandwidth is needed to upgrade most of the bandwidth for its 300 users located nationwide, Wong pointed out. 

Server virtualization is the first step to move forward because the back-end infrastructure should always be the first to be virtualized before the end user since it consolidates the storage accordingly, Wong explained. 

Takaful also needed a more mature understanding of desktop virtualization before it can embark on future projects, he added, noting the company already did a refresh of the entire system two years ago and the next refresh would probably be in three to four years. 

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