Seclore Technology benefits from virtualization

by Ashutosh Desai    May 25, 2010

Seclore is a provider of enterprise information rights management solutions to companies that need to collaborate, maintain regulatory compliance and ensure that data leakages do not occur. Seclore solutions are designed to provide end-to-end data protection and document usage control. Currently, Seclore has offices in Mumbai, India and Singapore.

Before virtualization
Seclore initially maintained six physical servers, each of which had one application installed on it. Information critical to business was scattered over multiple machines and backup had become a growing problem. Apart from this, the IT team had to monitor and maintain these servers, which included incremental infrastructure scale-ups, and also deal with the cost of energy consumption.

The company needed to do something about the ’scattered data’ and also ensure that it had a failover plan in place for its business critical applications. But the company found that this required ‘elaborate hardware’ and management. Seclore did not want to lose more real estate by adding physical servers and at the same time wanted to reduce the cost of acquiring new infrastructure. Most importantly, the company needed to ensure that its critical information does not reside across several machines — backup needed to be less daunting and failover was a must.

Reasons for virtualizing its servers
Seclore opted for server virtualization to answer its operational concerns and also come through with its business needs. The company decided to choose a solution on the basis of its stability (ability to add more hardware to the same machine), cost, availability of good support, and ease of use. This criteria, led Seclore to choose and implement VMware’s server virtualization solution.

Post-implementation
After the implementation, Seclore managed to virtualize all six of its physical servers on to a single physical server. The entire implementation process took just one week to complete. However, Seclore did come against a few obstacles initially. These revolved around the licensing policy of VMware Server and selecting hardware that would not only reduce the cost of ownership but also meet certain performance requirements. Eventually, the server configuration was as follows,

- Quad core CPU at 3 GHz, with virtualization technology (VT) and hyperthreading (HT) enabled
- High performance SAS-based storage
- 12 GB RAM
- Six, 1 GB LAN cards
- Hot swappable disk insertion
- VMware ESXi 4.0 Server (free version, which supports only one CPU with maximum 6 cores)

Benefits
Implementing server virtualization, reduced the amount of time that was otherwise spent on server management. Since all of the six physical servers were virtualized onto a single server, power consumption was also reduced. At the same time, the virtual machine (VM) images of the servers can now be backed up relatively easily, allowing Seclore to be ready in case of a disaster. The IT team can simply move the online virtual machines to the backup VMware ESXi server in case the primary VMware ESXi server fails. In the event that additional hardware needs to be added — for example, a virtual hard disk/CPU/RAM/LAN card — they can also be easily provisioned now. Since the physical servers are now virtual, Seclore was able to set up the infrastructure in a smaller space.

"We completely believe that virtualization is the way to go. We have stopped thinking in the traditional server way. Every single server or application within our office runs in a virtualized environment. It is much better to have a high-end machine running multiple applications/virtual images," says Abhijit Tannu, co-founder and director (Technology), Seclore Technology.

Learnings
Tannu stressed that it is very important to ensure that "engineers who are working on virtualized servers should have good knowledge of the subject, especially ESXi Server." This is essential especially for those who are not exposed to virtualization techniques. A lot of effort, bandwidth, and resources may get wasted if the administrator does not have the knowledge on the same.

Seclore’s directory of technology also recommended that while ordering hardware for a virtualized environment, a company should plan for the future. This means, order a slightly higher configuration, ensuring enough headroom for the time when business growth requires a company to scale its server infrastructure accordingly.