Knight Frank LLP is the leading independent global property consultancy. Headquartered in London, Knight Frank and its New York-based global partner, Newmark Knight Frank, operate from 207 offices, in 43 countries, across six continents. More than 6,340 professionals handle in excess of US$886 billion (£594 billion) worth of commercial, agricultural and residential real estate annually, advising clients ranging from individual owners and buyers to major developers, investors and corporate tenants.
Knight Frank has two geographically dispersed active-active data centres in London; over several years, a heterogeneous server estate comprising 20 racks and blade servers evolved across the sites, with VMware and Citrix XenApp providing a virtualised platform to power a variety of MS applications including SQL, Exchange, SharePoint and Terminal Services.
“We were primarily concerned about the escalating cost of maintaining and supporting our ageing server infrastructure, and the cost of increasing storage capacity,” commented Hardesh Degun, technical architect, Knight Frank LLP. “When HP’s Partner, the DTP Group, approached us, we were eager to hear about new data centre technologies. They offered to review the existing server platform.”
DTP is a highly accredited HP Exclusive Gold Partner. We took an innovative approach undertaking in-depth analysis regarding energy usage/costs, Return on Investment (ROI) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Virtualisation Capacity Planning Analysis to make a solid business case for Knight Frank.
DTP’s analysis revealed that average yearly energy and support costs totalled £86,000 and the energy component equated to 252 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The VMware capacity assessment showed mean and peak server utilisation stood at 5.94 and 9.44 per cent respectively. Consequently, to improve utilisation, Knight Frank required a new virtualised environment containing 28 host servers; a consolidation ratio of 7:1.
By comparing an HP BladeSystem within a virtualised environment, DTP Group clearly demonstrated that Knight Frank had an opportunity to modernise its ageing server landscape and lower TCO by about 90 per cent.
Mike Whittle, sales & commercial director at DTP group added: “We understand that IT Solution providers have to be different and add value, particularly in today’s tough financial climate.
“Our approach seeks to fuse together critical business requirements with innovative technology in order to release businesses from the aging infrastructure trap, often completely self funding from diverted operational costs, and deliver modular and aligned IT which is environmentally sound.”
Before the server review, Knight Frank was assessing its future storage requirements after the existing SAN platform from another leading vendor, based on a collection of controller-based fibre channel disk arrays, experienced reliability problems. The primary and secondary sites had raw capacities of 36TB and 21TB respectively.
“After the server assessment, we were convinced that a consolidated, virtualised HP solution would reduce costs, optimise server utilisation and enhance performance whilst simultaneously simplifying management and creating a scalable platform to satisfy future business needs,” added Degun.
DTP Group proactively broadened its review and found that the existing storage platform consumed 63,849 kW annually, which equates to nearly 31 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Moreover, combined energy and estimated support costs for both sites were approximately £47,200 per year. These results clearly identified a need for a more compact, resilient and scalable storage platform that offered lower TCO, increased capacity and improved manageability.
The HP Converged Infrastructure comprises HP BladeSystem with Virtual Connect and StorageWorks solutions. To host the VMware virtual environment, each data centre contains an HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosure with16 HP ProLiant BL495c server blades. Citrix XenApp is virtualised by the VMware vSphere 4 Cloud Operating System and an HP Virtual ConnectFlex-10 10Gb Ethernet Module simplifies connectivity to the network, reducing infrastructure costs and enabling the virtualised, wire-once capability of the HP solution. HP Care Packs support the platform around-the-clock for the next five years.
For the new replicated storage platform, the DTP Group considered two approaches; an HPStorageWorks EVA 4400, a traditional array-based technology solution, and an HP StorageWorks P4000 Storage Area Network (SAN) solution with storage virtualisation and iSCSI technology. The latter was more cost effective and provided a more feature rich platform aligned to Knight Frank’s requirements.
“We were delighted when the DTP Group proposed an HP P4000 SAN solution because it integrates well with our VMware environment and, for a one-off fee, includes all features; the licensing is far simpler and offers better value. With eight network connections per blade and 10 Gb of bandwidth, we felt that HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 is ideal for the iSCSI-VMware environment. No other vendor offers a comparable solution,” adds Degun.
The HP StorageWorks 24-Node P4500 SAN solution splits equally across the data centres in an ‘active-active’ configuration;two10 GB pipes link the sites. Each centre contains eight production nodes and four archive nodes in a dedicated iSCSI network package. The SAN instantly provided 182 TB of raw capacity; the network grade-two configuration capacity incorporates 32.5 TB of production data and 36.5 TB of archive data per sites.
TCO is dramatically reduced whilst storage capacity doubles After implementing the HP Converged Infrastructure solution, Knight Frank has witnessed some dramatic changes to its server and storage platforms. Consolidating the server environment with HP BladeSystem has generated a high performance, scalable and easily managed platform, ideally suited to future business needs. Server utilisation has increased seven-fold and power and cooling costs, CO2 emissions and TCO have fallen by 90 per cent, making this solution a businees environmental success.
The virtualised HP StorageWorks iSCSI storage SAN provides Knight Frank with a highly reliable, cost-effective and scalable storage platform that is readily managed. Capacity has increased instantly by over 200 per cent, annual running costs have fallen by 85 per cent, CO2 emissions are 47 per cent lower, and the ‘active-active’ configuration safeguards business continuity.
“With these reliable, cost-effective HP solutions, we now have modern server and storage platforms that will support our business activities for the foreseeable future,” concluded Degun.