Insurance Company Saves Millions of Dollars, Ensures High Availability (HA) and Ease of Management, and Mitigates Aging Hardware Risk with DH2i

Global Insurance Provider Deploys DH2i Software to Manage, Protect and Decrease the Cost of Microsoft SQL Server Environment

Challenges and Goals

In 2006, DH2i’s client implemented PolyServe in order to consolidate its Microsoft SQL Server systems, ensure high availability (HA) and reduce overall cost. At the time, DH2i’s client had a few hundred physical servers supporting its SQL environment, which served as the primary platform for the company’s most business critical applications and information.
In 2010, HP announced its intention to discontinue the PolyServe product, as well as future releases, service and support.

“When we were advised of the PolyServe end of life from HP, we understood the true meaning of ‘sense of urgency.’ We needed to find a comparable, if not better, solution, and we needed to find it fast,” said the Director of Infrastructure. “Of course, we also recognized the enormity of the migration project that stood before us, once we found the replacement. We hoped to find a product that would help us there too.”

At the time, DH2i’s client faced additional challenges as well. Its physical hardware was aging and reaching at-capacity levels, it needed to modernize its SQL Server environment to newer versions – specifically to 2008 and 2012, and it wanted to reduce overall licensing and support costs, through vendor consolidation.

After a month of research, DH2i’s client identified just two possible candidate solutions. The company could return to Microsoft and deploy Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) for SQL Server, or DH2i’s software that provides an availability framework for Microsoft SQL Server. VMware came in a close third, however DH2i’s client felt that VMware would have cost too much in licensing fees, and would have required more physical servers. The company then engaged in about a year of painstaking due diligence, testing WSFC against DH2i’s software.

“The testing confirmed what we were hearing from our peers, WSFC technology is really behind the curve in regards to innovation and product development,” explained the Director of Infrastructure.

“Everyone knew how important it was to switch out of PolyServe. And, now we knew we didn’t want to go back to WSFC. However, we still needed corporate approval – we still needed to sell corporate on DH2i versus Microsoft,” said the Director of Infrastructure. “Fortunately, when they reviewed the results of our meticulous lab work combined with the pricing of WSFC against DH2i, the choice was pretty clear.”

 

Solution and Results

Based on the extensive product testing, pricing analysis and the subsequent executive approval, DH2i’s software was selected and deployed into its new environment. DH2i’s client then completely migrated off PolyServe and all residual WSFC, and decommissioned the associated outdated servers. Not only was the migration completed on time and well within budget, they were able to successfully complete the initiative two weeks prior to the company’s annual disaster recovery (DR) testing exercise, which enabled them to also fully validate DH2i’s DR capabilities.

“Once the new environment was created, migration with DH2i was actually really easy,” said the Director of Infrastructure. “I envision that future tech refreshes will be just as easy, if not easier.”

“We have already experienced an outage and DxConsole performed perfectly,” he continued. “There was an outage on one of the nodes, due to a hardware failure. DH2i’s software seamlessly failed-over to the active node. We were then able to conduct the necessary maintenance on the failed hardware, bring it back up and add it back into the cluster. Best of all – this all took place in a completely transparent fashion to the business.”

Today, DH2i is helping the global insurance provider to adhere to its service level agreements (SLAs) in regards to recover point and recover time objectives (RPO and RTO). DH2i has also helped them to reduce the time spent patching the new environment.

In regards to cost savings and ROI, the client views the move to DH2i’s software as delivering a huge savings in cost avoidance, as well as cost reduction (i.e., the costs associated with WSFC). The company estimates that with at least 16 servers multiplied by 16 cores for a total of 256 core licenses, at a list price of about $7,000 per core, it has literally saved almost $2 million — and, that is before the necessary Microsoft Software Assurance, annual support renewals for each physical box, backup and monitoring agents, additional SQL Server licenses, etc.

In the future, DH2i’s software will be leveraged to support the client’s continuously growing compute environment.

“We are always creating new applications to support new requirements coming down from the business,” said the Director of Infrastructure. “DH2i will be a huge help here. In particular, it’s great to know we can complete upgrades online, without business interruption. And, should we experience any hardware or application issues during the process, we can rest assured that DxConsole will failover flawlessly.”

Future plans include leveraging DH2i’s software to migrate and consolidate several databases of a new sister company into the new environment. Another server refresh is also planned in the near future, for which DH2i will be utilized.

The Director of Infrastructure concluded. “Anything SQL-related will ultimately be sitting on DH2i’s platform.”