Speed of delivery and a reliable, responsive application experience are key drivers of business in the digital age. But as legacy IT infrastructure solutions prove themselves unable to consistently provide these key attributes, more companies are turning to Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI ) powered by VMware vSAN for greater agility, easier scalability and faster time to market.
These benefits offer advantages to any organization but are especially important to ones like British bookmaker William Hill who update applications in real-time in response to ongoing events. William Hill, for example, must process over five million price variations each day and roll out hundreds of product changes during major sporting events. It must also maintain high levels of security to comply with stringent British gambling regulations, all while keeping costs down and complexity low.
Previously, the gambling giant used a blade chassis and storage arrays to power its IT infrastructure but found this traditional approach was frustrating to developers, overly complex and costly to scale. To stay at the top of the highly competitive global gaming market, the company needed to provide a seamless application experience and scale its infrastructure to quickly and affordably add new products. “We were struggling to scale out intelligently,” says Ben Fairclough, Infrastructure Architect at William Hill. “The number of virtual machines in our cloud was increasing considerably, and the manual processes required to set up networking were becoming a headache.”
The company explored HCI solutions from HPE, Cisco and Nutanix before choosing VMware HCI powered by vSAN for its ease of use and significantly better performance compared to the competition. “The VMware vSAN solution proved to be 30% faster to build, deploy and optimize than the competitor. After four weeks, the competitor still needed adjusting,” says Fairclough. “We were completely sold on HCI powered by VMware vSAN.”
“The VMware vSAN solution proved to be 30% faster to build, deploy and optimize than the competitor. After four weeks, the competitor still needed adjusting,” says Fairclough. “We were completely sold on HCI powered by VMware vSAN.”
William Hill was especially impressed by VMware vSAN’s block-level deduplication and compression features, which their independent testing found to have a 13.9GB/second capacity across 19 nodes. That was more than double their previous performance on a single platform and comfortably more storage space than Willian Hill’s developers required. “For the first time in three years, we’ve had a six-month period where there have been no requests for additional IT resources,” says Fairclough.
That high performance also came with savings in both time and manpower. The initial HCI project finished two months ahead of schedule, while post-deployment, developers are saving an estimated 20 to 25% of their time. HCI powered by VMware vSAN has also helped William Hill avoid a six-figure expenditure on new storage and blade chassis. “HCI was never solely about the infrastructure,” says Fairclough. “We estimate around 20% of the benefit will come from automation, the ease of configuration and self-healing. The aim is to get ourselves into a position where we can move infrastructure and not have to worry about the consequences. It will make us very dynamic.”
In fact, William Hill moved around 5,500 virtual machines within just one eight-hour period and with very little downtime. They now have a complete Software-Defined Data Center based on VMware NSX-T Data Center and vSAN, allowing the organization to scale in a cost-efficient manner as the business demands. That’s critical for major events like the Grand National horse race that generate five to six times more load than William Hill would see on a typical Saturday. “We can scale out easily for major events…We just change a number in a configuration file, and then release it into development, preproduction and production,” says Fairclough. “It is significantly quicker, easier and cheaper to make changes.”
For more information, check out this case study detailing William Hill’s winning bet on HCI powered by VMware vSAN.