SunGard, a software and services company that's grown rapidly in the past few years via acquisition and successful execution, has been on a mission to consolidate its IT operations. The aggressive plan started with server virtualization, a stage that is largely complete. But the Wayne, Penn.-based company, which serves about 25,000 customers in 70 countries and operates four different businesses, knew it would also need a comprehensive management solution that would help it create, track and decommission its new virtual machines (VMs).
"For our internal IT, we pretty much have everything virtualized, even Solaris," says Guy Chapman, senior engineer for storage and virtualization in the Engineering and Architecture group at SunGard Financial Systems.
The acquisitions had created a number of business units, many with their own offices and IT infrastructure, and the virtualization initiative was the foundation for consolidation of the company's metropolitan offices.
For example, it connected all of its London offices into one building, initially moving 600 people onto three floors. (There are four floors today.) "There was no way we could power and cool all those machines in that space. We didn't have any option but to consolidate," Chapman says. There was also VM sprawl in pockets of SunGard's operations, which created a host of other concerns around warranties, maintenance and monitoring. "We found an awful lot of old desktops hosting three to four desktop VMs, and little server rooms used for testing and development," Chapman recalls.
Since the virtualization program began, SunGard has reduced its power consumption and cooling by about 80 percent, rack space by more than 90 percent and host count by about 80 percent. The success of the program didn't stop with that, however. Chapman and his team understood that successful VM implementations require more: a focus on best practices that include business continuity and security, effective storage, and automated provisioning and self-service solutions that provide more strategic control over the virtualized environment and ultimately help reduce costs.