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West Asset Management collects on winning agility with IBM XIV

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To thrive in a competitive industry, West Asset Management (WAM) needed to provide rapid data access to employees and create new IT environments quickly. Provisioning storage volumes was complex and …

To thrive in a competitive industry, West Asset Management (WAM) needed to provide rapid data access to employees and create new IT environments quickly. Provisioning storage volumes was complex and laborious, impacting business agility. WAM implemented the IBM XIV Storage System for all mission-critical applications, rapidly and independently migrating all its data and, due to growing needs, increased capacity nondisruptively just three months later.

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  • 1. IBM XIV Storage System Financial servicesCase Study West Asset Management collects on winning agility with IBM XIV Collections services leader taps storage ease and 300 percent performance gain for competitive advantage West Asset Management (WAM), a subsidiary of the West Overview Corporation, is one of the top-rated companies in accounts receivable management sector in the United States. It is the vendor of choice for Challenge the largest U.S. healthcare system, seven of the top 10 credit card To thrive in a competitive industry, West issuers, and other Fortune 500 companies. Headquartered in Marietta, Asset Management (WAM) needed to provide rapid data access to employees GA, the company has more than 2,500 employees at 14 locations and create new IT environments quickly. across 13 states. Provisioning storage volumes was complex and laborious, impacting business agility. WAM needs to be able to manage complex cases, such as medical insurance claims investigations, and to process and respond to new Solution collection requests as swiftly as possible. In the collections industry, WAM implemented the IBM® XIV® requests go out to multiple fulfillers—the business is awarded to the Storage System for all mission-critical applications, rapidly and independently fastest responders. Quick turnaround time across its IT infrastructure, migrating all its data and, due to grow- including its data warehouse, is critical to WAM’s success. ing needs, increased capacity nondis- ruptively just three months later. “Speed is important operationally, to give business users access to the Benefits data they need,” explains Jeff Ealy, Director of IT at WAM. “Speed is ● Raises performance 300 percent, with also important strategically: As we evolve, we need to be able to pro- 24/7 availability vide new IT services and respond rapidly to requests from business ● Provisions new storage within users.” 30 minutes. ● Integrates with VMware for an end-to-end solution Seeking speed and simplicity Not surprisingly, performance was a primary driver for WAM in look- ing for a new storage solution, and simplicity in use was close behind. To enable high speed in IT service provisioning, the company had already implemented a virtualized landscape based on VMware ESX Server, running 200 virtual environments, to support its key systems. Most were applications built around Microsoft® SQL Server and Microsoft Windows® Server 2008: In-house-developed surveying, data mining and validation applications for the insurance services sector, and an Artiva accounts receivable management application from Ontario Systems. WAM also runs a voice-recording application for phone calls, a small number of Linux® and IBM AIX® systems, and an IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager server that handles tape backups from the company’s SAN. “Although our VMware environment gave us virtualization on the server side, there was a bottleneck when it came to the storage,” explains DJ Toms, Vice President of Information Services. “Setting up
  • 2. IBM XIV Storage System Financial servicesCase Study new storage volumes was a complex process, involving manual configu- ration of RAID arrays and a lot of other technical work. Provisioning a “Initially, we thought the single volume could take three or four hours, which slowed down our claims IBM was making ability to respond to business users and distracted our IT staff from more valuable work.” about the XIV system were too good to be Seeking new storage options, WAM consulted Sirius Computer true—but then we saw Solutions (formerly MSI Systems Integrators). Says Ealy: “MSI has been one of our closest partners for many years, and have always it deliver a 300 percent helped us invest wisely in new technologies. Once again, they came improvement in per- up with a great solution by suggesting we test out the IBM XIV Storage System.” formance. And when we analyzed the business The IBM XIV Storage System revolutionizes enterprise storage tech- case, we realized we nology; its highly parallelized grid architecture of high-capacity SATA disks delivers tier-one performance and resilience at exceptionally low would potentially total cost of ownership. achieve cost savings of 30 percent over 300 percent performance gain…and much more traditional SAN Sirius helped WAM run a proof of concept on a 45 TB XIV system at infrastructures.” its main data center, in Omaha, Nebraska. —DJ Toms, Vice President of Information “Initially, we thought the claims IBM was making about the XIV Services, West Asset Management system were too good to be true—but then we saw it deliver a 300 percent improvement in performance,” says Toms. “And when we analyzed the business case, we realized we would potentially achieve cost savings of 30 percent over traditional SAN infrastructures.” WAM put the test model straight into production, migrating 27 TB of data from all environments of its existing storage in just 30 days, without assistance. Today, the XIV system stores all the company’s mission-critical applications. “It was the easiest migration we’ve ever done,” says Ealy. “The XIV migration tools are fantastic—the whole data transfer took place in the background, with no need to take systems offline. The only downtime was for a few minutes when we rebooted the servers. Our last SAN migration was a nightmare, so we were astounded at how easy the XIV made the process.” Nondisruptive scalability Just three months after the initial migration, the company added two new modules. “XIV’s expandability is great: You can add capacity at low cost, and nondisruptively,” says Toms. “Moreover, unlike a traditional storage system, adding modules actually improves performance, because you’re adding controllers as well as disks.” 2
  • 3. IBM XIV Storage System Financial servicesCase Study West Asset Management has continued to add capacity easily as busi- IBM solution components ness growth has required. Hardware Ealy adds: “The XIV system is also extremely reliable and resilient. ● IBM® XIV® Storage System We haven’t had a single moment’s downtime since the ‘go-live.’ Once, Software when a disk failed, we just took the module out of service, replaced the ● IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager disk, and brought it back into the array again. The disk was rebuilt automatically within 40 minutes. We monitored the I/O performance Business Partner during the whole operation and had no effect on performance ● Sirius Computer Solutions whatsoever.” Toms comments: “The reporting tools are terrific; with our previous “IBM XIV…delivers a storage product, we had to create tools for performance monitoring ourselves, but the IBM XIV comes with everything you need as stan- high-performance, dard. There are many advanced features available that we haven’t even highly resilient storage started using yet, such as thin provisioning and remote mirroring. infrastructure that not Snapshots are already proving useful for backups, and we’re looking to introduce writeable snaps in the near future.” only reduces total cost of ownership, but also “But above all, it’s XIV’s ease in creating, allocating and extending stor- age volumes that is the real ‘wow factor’ for us. A job that used to take enhances business up to four hours of tedious manual work can now be completed in agility...” 30 minutes—so we can respond to business users much more quickly when they ask us to create a new environment.” —Jeff Ealy, Director of IT, West Asset Management Compact and energy efficient WAM retired its previous storage hardware, saving floor space and reducing power and cooling requirements. “The old system took up IT Environment: two or three racks; the XIV just occupies one,” says Ealy. “And you can Operating systems feel the difference in the data center—it pumps out much less hot air ● Microsoft® Windows® Server 2008 and puts less strain on the UPS. We’re planning to install a second XIV system at our Atlanta site. Space and power are severely con- Databases strained there, so the compact footprint and energy efficiency will be ● Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, DB2® a major advantage.” Applications Following the success of the project, WAM has recently purchased a ● Artiva second XIV, which is installed at its San Antonio, TX, data center and Virtualization used to support the operations of West Business Services (WBS)—a ● VMware ESX Server 4.0 highly agile sales force optimization company that needs to be able to expand its IT environment rapidly to support new clients. WAM’s parent company, West Corporation, has also decided to invest in an XIV Storage System, which will support its Peoplesoft HRMS system. The San Antonio XIV has greatly improved the reliability of a dialer/IVR system, and has offered the business the ability to run real-time reporting. 3
  • 4. Ealy concludes: “We’re convinced that IBM XIV is the future of stor- age at West Asset Management—it delivers a high-performance, highly“…above all, it’s XIV’s ease in cre- resilient storage infrastructure that not only reduces total cost of own- ating, allocating and extending ership, but also enhances business agility through the ability to respond rapidly to changing business needs.” storage volumes that is the real ‘wow factor’ for us. A job that For more information used to take up to four hours of Contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/system/storage/disk/xiv tedious manual work can now be completed in 30 minutes.” For more information about Sirius Computer Solutions, visit: siriuscom.com —DJ Toms, Vice President of Information Services, West Asset Management For more information about West Asset Management, visit: westassetmanagement.com © Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America March 2011 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, System Storage and XIV are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, IBM and Sirius Computer Solutions are separate other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on companies and each is responsible for its own products. their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these Neither IBM nor Sirius Computer Solutions makes any symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or products. common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at References in this publication to IBM products, ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other IBM operates Offerings are subject to change, countries, or both. extension or withdrawal without notice. All client examples cited represent how some clients have used Microsoft is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other IBM products and the results they may have achieved. countries, or both. The information in this document is provided “as is” Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of without any warranty, either expressed or implied. others. Please Recycle TSC03086-USEN-00

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