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Case Study: Virtacore

Virtacore Standardizes on Cisco, VMware, and Nimble Storage to Deliver World-Class Public and Private Cloud Services

Integrated solution provides performance and operating requirements for leading cloud services provider.

Virtacore: Cloud Services and Virtual Infrastructure

Virtacore is a leading cloud services provider that specializes in virtual infrastructure solutions utilizing VMware. With over 12 years of experience in cloud and internet services, Virtacore has a long history of providing public and private cloud solutions to meet the needs of clients at the mid-market and enterprise levels.

Utilizing Cisco®, VMware®, and Nimble-based technology platforms, Virtacore enables clients of any size to easily and securely virtualize their IT infrastructure and application deployments into the cloud. This move significantly reduces capital and operating expenses, while improving data security, network availability, application performance, and scalability. In addition to being an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider in a wide range of vertical markets, Virtacore also provides "white label" cloud services to resellers and partners, enabling them to deliver world-class, privately labeled cloud service offerings to their own client base.

Virtacore's cloud services provide all of the required infrastructure and expertise—the "remote hands"—needed for a high performance cloud presence. "Our cloud offerings run the spectrum from providing power, pipe and ping and IaaS—giving the client full control of all aspects of their environment—to fully-managed services that include network management, hypervisor management, OS patching and other services that the market demands." Said, Phill Lawson-Shanks, CTO of Virtacore. "With our cloud services, IT teams can stop worrying about the stability, maintenance and headaches of their on-premise solutions, and shift their focus to more strategic activities and growing their business."

Cloud Challenges

Demand for Virtacore's cloud services has been growing rapidly. Virtacore was seeking a new solution that would provide faster deployment and better scalability for its popular suite of cloud offerings. "Cloud, IaaS and virtualization are all seeing rapid adoption. C-level technology executives and Directors of Technology are rapidly moving some, or all, of their infrastructure to the cloud. To keep pace with this growth path, we needed the capability to onboard our clients quickly and more efficiently than we had in the past." Lawson-Shanks added.

Virtacore's IT goals also included simplifying and streamlining management tools of cloud services for both internal administrators and clients. In addition, Lawson-Shanks and his team wanted a solution that would enable them to cut the costs of delivering cloud services, minimize datacenter footprint, and reduce power consumption. Their inquiries led them to the only combination of solutions that could meet these requirements—from Cisco, VMware, and Nimble Storage.

State-of-the-Art Datacenter Environment

When Virtacore began expansion planning for the new datacenter, it selected an environment that would be able to meet the security and performance demands of today's technology companies. With the primary datacenter location near Washington, DC—on the largest hub of the world's internet backbone—Virtacore is next to some of the most recognized names in technology. With additional facilities in Illinois and California, Virtacore provides clients with a 99.999 percent SLA uptime guarantee and has compliance certifications that include SSAE 16 Type II - SOC1 & SOC2, as well as PCI DSS. "Maintaining this level of security and uptime means that we need to have the best tools and technologies that can help us meet stringent security and performance requirements. Our clients, particularly the ones with global operations, demand this." Explained Lawson-Shanks.

Inside the datacenter, Virtacore designed and built an industry-leading infrastructure including an Intel® Xeon® processor-based Cisco UCS servers, Cisco Nexus and Catalyst switches, as well as VMware vCloud Director (VCD) hypervisor software. This powerful, world-class hardware and software solution required an equally robust storage platform. "When it came to storage, we wanted best in class." Said, Lawson-Shanks.

Best-in-Class Storage

Virtacore's journey with Nimble Storage started in 2011. With the acquisition of a large global enterprise client with offices in 15 countries, Virtacore needed to migrate several of the most demanding applications from their datacenters in different countries to the Virtacore datacenter in Virginia. "This client had heavy utilization needs with extremely large databases," explained Matt Tedder, a team leader on the project. "We needed a powerful storage solution to meet all of the client's requirements. This is a client that had mission critical operations in multiple countries and we couldn't afford to select anything less than the best product on the market."

Virtacore conducted a proof of concept (POC) on the Nimble Storage arrays in November of 2011. "Our engineers did their best to test the limits of the Nimble Storage arrays over a period of several months," recalled Tedder. "Given the high profile nature of our client and our commitment to giving them the highest level of service, we couldn't afford to have any surprises. Despite our best efforts to find weaknesses, the Nimble Storage systems consistently performed above, and far beyond, our expectations."

Moving into Production

At the end of the highly successful POC, Virtacore purchased two Nimble CS260 arrays and immediately put them into production. Nimble's flash-optimized hybrid storage arrays integrate the exceptional performance of flash with the favorable economics of highcapacity hard disk drives—making them ideal for storing and protecting data for all critical applications such as Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server and server virtualization.

"The Nimble Storage arrays were very easy to install, with one convenient 3U package," said Tedder. "There was no need to worry about designating drives to specifics LUNs, and all of the other manual configuration settings we previously had to make to optimize our existing storage environment." Virtacore used the Nimble Storage arrays for the largest and most demanding business intelligence (BI) applications, Oracle and SQL databases. Taking advantage of the superior processing power and large cache that the Nimble arrays provide, Virtacore was able to serve the client with outstanding performance, stability and security. Virtacore now utilizes Nimble Storage for the majority of its SAN deployments, not just the larger resource-intensive applications.