Virtustream builds a cloud computing platform with a difference

Based on smarter computing solutions from IBM

Published on 09-May-2012

Validated on 01 Nov 2013

Customer:
Virtustream

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Cloud Computing, Enabling Business Flexibility, High Availability , Smarter Computing, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

Overview

Virtustream is a full-spectrum cloud provider that delivers enterprise-class cloud solutions to clients worldwide. At the center of Virtustream’s offering is a secure high-performance cloud platform, xStream, offering highly available and elastic compute resources with true consumption-based pricing that can be delivered as private, multi-tenant or hybrid clouds, depending on each client’s requirements. The company’s Cloud Professional Services team also provides expertise in the areas of cloud adoption, architecture strategy, migration roadmaps and integration services.

Business need:
Virtustream wanted to offer clients enterprise-class cloud services and provide greater performance than other cloud computing providers, offering cloud services with application SLAs, consumption-based pricing and compelling cloud economics.

Solution:
IBM solutions are at the center of Virtustream’s Cloud platform, including IBM® System x® 3650 class servers running VMware virtualization augmented with IBM Systems Director and an extensive suite of IBM Tivoli® software. Virtustream uses this powerful combination as part of the xStream cloud platform that supplies a range of cloud computing services, ranging from private on-premise cloud management for the hyper-security conscious, to its multi-tenanted xStream managed cloud services.

Benefits:
Virtustream’s enterprise clients benefit from significant total cost of ownership (TCO) savings by moving from traditional environments to the company’s Cloud platform, which is supported by IBM technology, with some saving as much as 60 percent. The flexibility of the IBM System x platform enables Virtustream to run as many as 30-40 virtual machines (VMs) on each physical server, and Tivoli software helps to control network traffic so that I/O throughput can be guaranteed for mission-critical workloads.

Case Study

Virtustream is a full-spectrum cloud provider that delivers enterprise-class cloud solutions to clients worldwide. At the center of Virtustream’s offering is a secure high-performance cloud platform, xStream, offering highly available and elastic compute resources with true consumption-based pricing that can be delivered as private, multi-tenant or hybrid clouds, depending on each client’s requirements. The company’s Cloud Professional Services team also provides expertise in the areas of cloud adoption, architecture strategy, migration roadmaps and integration services.

Meeting varied customer requirements
By providing enterprise-class cloud services, Virtustream helps clients eliminate the cost, complexity and risk of managing their IT architecture themselves – while greatly improving service quality and flexibility. When selecting a managed cloud provider, companies need to decide what balance they need between cost, performance, security and elasticity and whether the services offer enterprise-class security, assurance and support.

Virtustream recognized that finding just the right balance between these factors would be critical for their enterprise customers. Virtustream offers a comprehensive set of cloud solutions – private, virtual private and public. To gain the full benefit from the cloud their clients needed a flexible platform that could be combined together to deliver hybrid clouds. The Virtustream virtual private cloud is core to this ability and to support these exacting requirements, Virtustream needed a highly adaptable and scalable infrastructure that could support a large number of virtual machines (VMs) while offering strong performance. With over 100 clients, the company needed capabilities that could dynamically scale to match customer requirements minute by minute.

Evaluating competing offerings
As long-time users of IBM technology, Virtustream immediately considered IBM servers for this environment. Due to the significance and scale of the project, the company undertook a structured evaluation process before making a final decision, however. It carefully benchmarked products from IBM, HP and Dell, as well as a ‘white label’ server. It discovered early on that the alternatives were ‘faster in a sprint’ – but that the IBM option was the clear winner when it came to real-world performance. Dell’s server in particular was 20 percent faster than the IBM System x3650 at running a single VM. However Virtustream’s test showed that the Dell machine’s performance decreased when you added more than five VMs. In fact, while the other options could run a maximum of 16.5 VMs, Virtustream discovered that the System x servers would stretch to as many as 35 – an increase of 112.5 percent. For multi-tenant Cloud solutions scalability is essential, so Virtustream selected the IBM System x3650 platform as the basis for its system.

The xStream concept enables Virtustream to offer clients a range of cloud architectures to meet their individual requirements. This broad spectrum of offerings includes private clouds running on the client’s own infrastructure in their datacenter, all the way to virtual private clouds provided by Virtustream. Virtustream clients choose to run its xStream software both on- or off-premise: or in any combination. The choice of architecture must balance requirements for security, elasticity, performance and cost, while delivering the greatest TCO savings from secure multi-tenant clouds. The company takes potential clients through a cloud strategy and design process to optimize the design of their cloud solutions.

Easy infrastructure management with IBM Tivoli
Virtustream also uses a suite of IBM software within the xStream platform to enhance functionality, including IBM Tivoli Monitoring and IBM Change and Configuration Management Database. The IBM Tivoli toolset includes a number of connectors to non-IBM infrastructure components, the Tivoli software is also highly cross-compatible, enabling Virtustream to link to clients’ environments and deploy comprehensive monitoring. In combination the xStream platform and the IBM toolset, Virtustream can analyze aggregate workloads to ensure that it provisions the most appropriate resources. It can also perform extremely granular analysis of resource usage, enabling variable consumption-based pricing.

IBM’s equipment is enhanced with sophisticated virtual network traffic control capabilities which make it possible for the company to guarantee I/O throughput for specific workloads, making the solution suitable for mission-critical applications and databases. Virtustream was only the seventh company to be certified by SAP to run the SAP ERP application in the cloud, a direct consequence of the provable security and performance levels of the infrastructure. Virtustream’s largest client – Domino Sugar, the world’s biggest sugar refiner – migrated 170 applications, including all of its SAP operations, over a 16-week period onto the xStream platform. Virtustream claims that the resulting environment is the largest hosted SAP solution in the world.

Enjoying the benefits
By selecting cloud-ready IBM technology to support its cloud platform, Virtustream has gained the rock-solid reliability and performance to ensure it consistently meets enterprise clients’ service level agreements (SLAs). On the basis of its own tests, Virtustream discovered that the IBM System x had the capacity to scale up to 112.5 percent more virtual machines than the competing offerings the company benchmarked. This showed Virtustream that the IBM platform is ideal for running multiple VMs for multiple-tenancy cloud environments. The IBM solution provides a number of key differentiators for Virtustream – enabling it to offer true consumption-based pricing and guaranteed I/O throughput for mission-critical workloads, helping drive up client satisfaction.

A study of the company’s clients has shown significant total cost of ownership (TCO) savings from using the xStream platform – some up to 60 percent – in moving from traditional IT environments to the Virtustream Cloud offering. Moreover, the IBM reputation for performance and availability complements Virtustream’s focus on differentiating itself from the competition by offering and meeting enterprise-class SLAs to clients.

Smarter Computing: The IT Infrastructure of a Smarter Planet
Virtustream has gained an ultra-reliable, pure x86-based cloud-ready platform supporting multiple virtualized environments. Benchmarking against competing solutions from HP and Dell showed that the IBM System x3650 could host more than twice the average number of virtual machines compared to the other vendors – ideal for supporting the company’s multi-tenanted xStream offering. The company delivers cloud computing services to clients through a variety of models, supported by the highly flexible IBM System x hardware and Virtustream’s xStream management platform.

The IBM Tivoli solution is a crucial component of the Virtustream platform, providing a range of Integrated Service Management capabilities, helping ensure compliance and adherence to service level agreements (SLAs). The company has an in-depth view of resources at any time and can use these insights to offer clients true consumption-based pricing. Moreover, sophisticated virtual network traffic-shaping technologies enable Virtustream to provide guaranteed I/O throughput on specific mission-critical workloads. These capabilities combine with the Virtustream xStream platform to enable enterprise-class cloud services.

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
System x, System x: System x running hypervisor - VMware

Software:
IBM Systems Director Editions, Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database, Tivoli Monitoring

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM United Kingdom Limited PO Box 41 North Harbour Portsmouth Hampshire PO6 3AU Produced in the United Kingdom May 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, System x and Tivoli are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.