HireRight Data Center Refresh Ups Performance 50%, Cuts Power 45%, Footage 60%

HireRight--a provider of cloud-based, on-demand employment screening programs--in collaboration with Cisco and EMC has implemented green technology while launching a refresh to its data center infrastructure. The company says the new deployment increases performance by 50%, decreases power consumption by 45% and reduces data center square footage by 60%.

March 2, 2012

4 Min Read
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HireRight--a provider of cloud-based, on-demand employment screening programs--in collaboration with Cisco and EMC has implemented green technology while launching a refresh to its data center infrastructure. The company says the new deployment increases performance by 50%, decreases power consumption by 45%, and reduces data center square footage by 60%.

The impetus to create the new infrastructure was based on HireRight's plans for continued global growth and green initiatives, the company says. Previously, it utilized more than twice as many data centers around the globe to support its worldwide customer base and maintains its SaaS software on one external cloud and one internal cloud. "We are on a steep growth curve, so rather than throw servers on racks, we started looking at a five-year plan," explains Mark Adams, VP of IT, HireRight, of the decision to consolidate. "On the green side of things, our strategy aligned really well to virtualize to a smaller footprint."

The company started with 10 data centers worldwide and will pare that down to four by the end of the year, he says. "We are going to a fully blade, fully virtualized model."

With smarter designs and green pressures, data center managers and designers have begun to focus on the compute density in their environments, according to Gartner. Most data centers are woefully underutilized from a space perspective. The physical floor space may be nearing capacity, but in many cases, the actual compute space within racks and servers is very poorly used, with average rack densities approaching just 60% worldwide, it reports.

Newer designs focus on this issue and are developed to allow optimal rack density, often approaching 85% to 90%, on average, thus increasing the compute-per-square-foot ratio dramatically. The advent of private cloud environments and resource pooling will provide methods to enhance vertical scalability in the data center, while at the same time improving the productivity-per-kilowatt ratio. Gartner predicts that by 2018, data center space requirements will be only 40% of what they are today.

Regardless of their size, many companies are moving to server virtualization as a logical way to control server sprawl and increasing complexity in the data center. Blade servers provide several advantages over traditional tower and rack-mount servers. The blade server's modular, future-proof design provides scalability and lets companies build and grow their infrastructure over time, according to the InformationWeek white paper, Blade Servers: Easier Management, Better Power Usage and Quicker ROI.

Blade servers also optimize the use of physical space and require 40% less power consumption than a traditional infrastructure, according to the November 2011 paper. They are also energy-efficient, with pooled power and cooling and group power optimization, thus making overall utilization "more efficient, allowing server consolidation and better use of data center space. Blade servers significantly ease the management burden, via unified system management controls for groups of servers, storage and networking."

In 2011 Gartner found that blade servers posted a revenue increase of 14.5% and a shipment increase of 4.2% for the year. HP was the 2011 blade leader, accounting for 44% of shipments, with IBM in second place at 21%. Cisco grew to an 8% shipment share in the form factor to end the year in fourth place, just behind Dell at 9.3%.

HireRight has chosen to add Cisco UCS blade servers, and standalone rack-able servers are displacing HP and Dell. "The reason is that it provided a much higher density platform for our virtualization efforts and enabled us to leverage advanced features like virtual profiles and administration automation," says Adams.

The consolidation will also be achieved by adding Cisco Fibre Channel over Ethernet, which displaced the need to separately maintain a SAN and data networks. "This simplified configuration," he says. The company is also adding Cisco Nexus 7000 series switches as a 10 Gig aggregation layer to replace 1 Gig ports, says Adams. High-speed Brocade Encryption switches have been added, which are displacing older NetApp Datafort equipment. "This increased data at rest encryption capabilities considerably."

HireRight has also upgraded to EMC Symmetrix enterprise-class storage, "which displaced a variety of NetApp and EMC Clarion systems. This high-speed storage increased performance and uptime," he says. "It was also key to integrating with real-time data replication technology for [disaster recovery]." Data is secured with data encryption technology and standards from RSA.

Adams says reducing the complication of administering systems has been another benefit. "By standardizing the stack of technology, engineers can administrate more virtual systems with less focus on hardware configuration," he notes. "We are also now starting to automate repetitive administrative tasks via Cisco UCS--faster system builds with less staff hours. In addition, by collapsing down to a minimum number of storage platforms, we have been able to tier our storage needs by speed and size requirements."

The next steps, Adam says, are to migrate and turn down the remaining data centers, work toward green certification of the new data centers and "continue looking for complementary technologies that increase virtual server performance without increasing data center square footage needs."

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