Nutanix, a leader in enterprise cloud computing, has announced the adoption of its software by Total Gas & Power, one of the UK’s pre-eminent gas and electricity suppliers to industrial, commercial, public sector and business customers.
The solution has placed the company on track to develop a single streamlined architecture, while reducing operational overheads, improving security compliance, consolidating workloads, and increasing resilience over legacy infrastructure.
Digital Transformation has become a global imperative for the energy company as it seeks to build a more agile and adaptable approach to the variable market demands facing the business.
But the company has been reliant on ageing and complex infrastructure that was entangled in multiple service level agreements, crumbling systems and multiple support contracts.
According to Dominic Maidment, Technology Architect European Enterprise Architecture at Total Gas & Power, it had years of technology debt with reams and reams of data, custom-designed applications with no record of development, and disparate systems.
“When we came upon Nutanix we were looking to develop a coherent solution that would ensure consistency and capability across a diverse range of systems and hardware equipment, much of which had been installed over the past 30 years, while creating a future-proof company that could scale at speed,” said Maidment.
“One of our primary goals was to create a DevOps approach to the development and the maintenance of applications that could also help us build on our desire to innovate within our highly competitive sector.”
Running on old Sun SPARC boxes and x86 systems, SAN storage, with remote office integration, and complex licensing requirements, its legacy systems still needed to be considered throughout the transition process.
The Total Gas & Power IT team became embroiled in a puzzle of moving IT pieces, turning to Nutanix to help it upgrade and update, but still maintain compliance, simplify deployment and ensure comprehensive disaster recovery and multi-site integration.
The new solution also had to address the fact that the company already has some limited real estate on public clouds (AWS) and ensure that they were easy to provision and scale for full DevOps capabilities as well as support its move to replace legacy in some areas with Open Source (Linux).
Total Gas & Power’s Nutanix journey started with the deployment of Nutanix’s hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform, using a layer of abstraction at the storage level to remove the need to provision and maintain storage hardware separate from its server nodes.
This move simplified both the infrastructure and the maintenance skill sets required to manage its overall environment. It is also now using Nutanix NX nodes as the primary platform, as they are capable of handling multiple workload migrations onto virtual machines (VMs) currently needed by its legacy environment and cloud landscape.
The new IT environment, while still not entirely migrated, is made up of a production site with VMs running on VMware and branch sites that run on Nutanix AHV (Nutanix’s own non-chargeable hypervisor), totalling 300 VMs with middleware, file and print services alongside a billing system, phone system (PABX) and miscellaneous business applications.
The built-in Nutanix VMs provide high availability support with automatic workload transfer in the event of a system failure.
The company also turned to Nutanix Beam’s multi-cloud governance functionality, to ensure that it retained compliance, service and operational standards. Beam’s functionality as a security and cost auditing tool, with APIs that can access the cloud and run reports and configurations for ongoing security and control, is what set it apart.
It is enabling Total Gas & Power, through its integration with Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, to save money by reducing its reliance on multi-vendor support contracts.
Following a successful deployment, resulting in dramatic system efficiency gains, Total Gas & Power has now also increased its use of products throughout the Nutanix stack and is continuing its migration to the NX platform at what it said is ‘the correct pace for accurate regression testing and system functioning’.
According to Maidment, the next steps in achieving a single target architecture, will include its investment in the Nutanix Era database automation tool, to enhance its DevOps strategy. A Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) pilot project designed to allow for user access to virtual desktops across existing cloud infrastructure using Frame, is also underway.
“We are focusing on becoming a truly hybrid organisation, which is not as easy as it sounds,” said Maidment.
“Complications arise when companies have some pots of technology in the cloud and a lot of crumbling legacy equipment that they have hidden by a façade of new technology. Our original systems were in chaos and we needed a solution that could resolve issues in our legacy infrastructure within realistic parameters, but that still supported our business drivers by giving us the ability to move faster, develop more and become more agile.
“Before we aggressively rolled out specific workloads into the cloud, we needed to know what we could control and what visibility we would have.
“With Nutanix, we are able to assess our systems more accurately and determine exactly where the challenges lie, as well as find solutions that can realistically overcome them into the future.”