Arbitration Forums Expands Business with Private Cloud on NetApp and VMware
 

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The Challenge ...

The Challenge
Continually enhance third-party arbitration services to meet the needs of growing membership while supporting new lines of business.

The Solution
Deploy NetApp systems in a flexible, high-performance, clustered configuration to support a private cloud environment.

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Arbitration Forums Expands Business with Private Cloud on NetApp and VMware Document Transcript

  • 1. Joint Customer Story Arbitration Forums Expands Business with Private Cloud on NetApp and VMware Customer Profile When insurance carriers differ on how an auto claim should be settled, they turn to third-party mediator Arbitration Forums, Inc. (AF). Established in 1943 as a feder- ally funded, nonprofit, member-based organization, AF is now the largest reme- diation and subrogation services provider in the United States, serving more than 4,700 members who file more than 510,000 arbitration disputes and 770,000 subrogation demands representing over $5.5 billion in claims annually. The Challenge Growing pains, increasing complexity Several years ago, AF and its members were incurring millions of dollars annually in costs associated with managing and distributing insurance claims information on paper. To reduce costs while more efficiently supporting members’ needs, AF migrated to a paperless claims- processing infrastructure. Soon after, the organization further enhanced its ser- vices by allowing members to upload claims documentation to its new private cloud using a live service portal, where AF arbitrators would conduct online hearings to settle cases. As word of AF’s simple and secure online arbitration services spread, its membership grew. Claims are now doubling every two years while also becoming more com- plex. Claims that averaged 15 pages now often exceed 200 pages and con- tain hundreds of high-resolution photos. Although AF’s storage infrastructure had enough capacity to support current needs, it was increasingly unable to deliver the level of performance required by the company’s rapidly growing VMware® environment. “Nobody knew our business was going to escalate as it did,” says Eric Tuley, director of IS Operations. “In 2010, we had 50 virtual servers. Now we have 580, and performance is absolutely crit- ical for streamlined operations and a quality member experience.” In addi- tion, a highly disruptive forklift upgrade would likely be required to support plans to extend arbitration services into new lines of business. KEY HIGHLIGHTS Industry Insurance The Challenge Continually enhance third-party arbitration services to meet the needs of growing membership while supporting new lines of business. The Solution Deploy NetApp® systems in a flexible, high-performance, clus- tered configuration to support a private cloud environment. Benefits • Preserves close to $2 million in existing storage investments • Saves nearly $55,000 a year on backup-related costs • Reclaims up to 90% of storage capacity with deduplication • Meets performance and capac- ity demands without disruption • Supports rapid growth and entry into new lines of business
  • 2. “This was one of the easiest storage implementations we have done. When you install the NetApp VSC plug-in into your VMware vSphere server and it optimizes all of your ESX hosts automatically, it’s an awesome thing to see.” Eric Tuley Director of IS Operations, Arbitration Forums, Inc. The Solution Power, agility, and asset preservation After exploring many options, a NetApp V-Series open storage controller platform running the NetApp clustered Data ONTAP® operating system was deemed the best fit. In addition to its reputation for NFS performance, NetApp would enable AF to move to a unified and agile storage infrastructure where performance and capacity could be managed and scaled without disruption. For a company like AF, with stringent SLAs to meet its grow- ing membership’s uptime requirements, as well as big plans for expanding its cloud-based services, these capabilities were critical. Best of all, this technology transformation could be accomplished while preserving close to $2 million in existing storage investments. “We were able to get substantial buy-in from the board of directors because NetApp gave us a way to utilize still viable equipment as part of the solution, while delivering substantial performance improvements,” says Tuley. A new IT paradigm NetApp Professional Services assisted AF with the deployment of its new NetApp infrastructure, which was in production within 60 days of delivery. NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC) for VMware vSphere® was integral to that process. “This was one of the easi- est storage implementations we have done,” says Tuley. “When you install the NetApp VSC plug-in into your VMware vSphere server and it optimizes all of your ESX hosts automatically, it’s an awesome thing to see.” Today, two NetApp V6240HA systems, each running clustered Data ONTAP and equipped with 2TB of NetApp Flash Cache™ , form the storage foundation for two fully redundant, live/live data cen- ters in Tampa, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina. The Tampa-based V6240 cluster supports AF’s member-facing, private cloud production environment and online portal. The Charlotte-based V6240 cluster provides an agile founda- tion for development and test, load, quality assurance, user acceptance testing, and training environments. AF leverages both NetApp and legacy disk arrays to create different perfor- mance tiers using various combinations of SAS, SATA, and SSD drives and Flash Cache technology. This enables the organization to easily and cost-efficiently deliver the right amount of performance and capacity to meet both member and business needs—from the demanding high-I/O requirements of AF’s business- critical Oracle® and VMware View® environments to the more moderate needs of testing and disk-to-disk backup. “Our V6240 cluster in production typically runs a 20% CPU load, and at any given time, we run less than 1.5 milliseconds of delay on our NFS back- ground,” says Tuley. “Most of the time we’re at 900 to 800 microseconds on our NFS connectivity out of all of our virtual machines.” The new NetApp infrastructure also seamlessly integrates with AF’s Cisco® UCS® servers and Cisco Catalyst® 6500 Series switches, supporting a cohesive link between storage, server, and net- working resources. Together, these components form a unified and flexible IT foundation for AF’s private cloud, delivering the right combination of assets to accommodate fluctuating workloads, fast and efficient test and development processes, and even new business directions. End-to-end features, nondisruptive functionality AF’s new V6240 systems, piloted by the clustered Data ONTAP management framework, extend the benefits of per- formance, deduplication, simplified management, and integrated data pro- tection across all of AF’s NetApp and third-party arrays. In addition, such activities as virtual storage segmentation for multi-tenancy, load balancing, maintenance, and upgrades can all be accomplished without disruption to member services. That, combined with the resiliency and redundancy of NetApp systems and software—such as NetApp SnapMirror® and VMware vCenter™ Site Recovery Manager—have enabled AF to
  • 3. consistently uphold the SLAs of some of the largest insurance carriers in the country with five-nines availability. Clustered Data ONTAP is also key to the seamless growth of AF’s virtual environment, which currently includes member-facing Oracle workloads that, for example, support current and his- torical claims search functionality. It also supports back-office applications such as Microsoft® Exchange, SQL Server® , and SharePoint® Server, as well as a growing VMware View desktop environment currently running 120 virtual desktops delivering a secure, stable, and distributed desktop solution to AF’s remote field arbitration staff. “With NetApp clustered Data ONTAP we can perform quarterly upgrades without having to call for member-impacting out- ages. This is a huge benefit for us,” says Tuley. “We can also scale out horizontally and not worry about buying additional software to meet that scale.” Business Benefits Lower operating costs despite growth NetApp deduplication occurs across all areas of AF’s storage infrastructure, from its primary datastores, to its NetApp Snapshot™ copy–based backups to its replication processes supported by SnapMirror. For example, AF has reclaimed 80% to 90% of capacity on some Microsoft Windows® and Linux® datastores. In its massive web server environment, which supports primary production applications, there has been a 75% reduction rate in actual block usage on the back-end NetApp array. AF has also dramatically curtailed new storage investments. In recent years, AF spent close to $200,000 buying new disk shelves from its previous vendor because deduplication for virtualized environments was not supported when running NFS. Phasing out an expensive third-party backup solution is another area where NetApp technology is making a big difference in AF’s bottom line. Capable of supporting fast and space-saving backups and quick restores for AF’s core virtualized applications, NetApp SnapDrive® for Windows and NetApp VSC for VMware vSphere and SnapManager® for Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint, and Oracle are providing an easy and more economical data protection alternative. “We were paying close to $65,000 a year to one vendor for all of the backups that we had to do on our back-end array,” says Tuley. “Now that we have VSC integrated back- ups we’ve saved close to $55,000 a year.” Tape purchases as well as third-party maintenance policies costing $15,000 to $20,000 every few years have also been eliminated. With its V-Series infrastructure and NetApp SnapVault® disk-to-disk backup capabilities, AF has repurposed preexisting storage resources for near- line and long-term archival storage. Faster response, greater value One of the bigger advantages of the NetApp deployment is the easy integra- tion between NetApp technology and the organization’s extensive VMware environment. This has dramatically reduced day-to-day management and streamlined the workflow model between IT management and development teams. This in turn facilitates a faster, more agile response to member and business needs. For example, the ability to rapidly incorporate member feedback to opti- mize cloud-based services such as the newly updated E-Subro Hub electronic subrogation claims service helps AF continually enhance the value of offerings to members. “NetApp tools, such as the VSC plug- in, give us seamless integration and management inside of the storage, so if someone needs some scratch space for a development stack, I don’t have to go to multiple people to carry out the task,” says Tuley. “I just ask our VMware guy to provide it, and at the end of the day, it is easily reclaimed, something that was a painful process in our previous environment.” From single to multiline arbitration services The organizational impact of AF’s transi- tion to a NetApp V-Series and clustered “With NetApp clustered Data ONTAP we can perform quarterly upgrades without having to call for member- impacting outages. This is a huge benefit for us.” Eric Tuley Director of IS Operations, Arbitration Forums, Inc.
  • 4. NetApp creates innovative storage and data management solutions that deliver outstanding cost efficiency and accelerate business breakthroughs. Discover our passion for helping companies around the world go further, faster at www.netapp.com. Go further, faster® www.netapp.com Follow us on: © 2014 NetApp, Inc. All rights reserved. No portions of this document may be reproduced without prior written consent of NetApp, Inc. Specifications are subject to change without notice. NetApp, the NetApp logo, Go further, faster, Data ONTAP, Flash Cache, SnapDrive, SnapManager, SnapMirror, Snapshot, and SnapVault are trademarks or registered trademarks of NetApp, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Microsoft, SharePoint, SQL Server, and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation. ESX, VMware View, VMware, and VMware vSphere are registered trademarks and vCenter is a trademark of VMware, Inc. Catalyst, Cisco, and Cisco UCS are registered trademarks and Cisco Unified Computing System is a trademark of Cisco Systems, Inc. All other brands or products are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders and should be treated as such. CSS-6691-0214 Data ONTAP IT environment is making it possible for AF to move into new areas of business while supporting rapid growth. Plans include a major undertak- ing to redesign AF’s back-end portal to support all lines of business, as well as the ability to process many different types of claims, including worker’s com- pensation, personal injury, medical, and property/casualty. “The simple shifting of technology foot- prints has made all the difference for us,” says Tuley. “With NetApp technology behind us, we’re pushing the envelope on what we can do and are well positioned to expand beyond automotive insurance and become a complete digital docu- ment transfer hub for multiple insurance industries throughout the United States.” “With NetApp technology behind us, we’re pushing the envelope on what we can do and are well positioned to expand beyond automotive insurance and become a complete digital document transfer hub for multiple insurance industries throughout the United States.” Eric Tuley Director of IS Operations, Arbitration Forums, Inc. SOLUTION COMPONENTS NetApp Products and Services NetApp V6240HA controllers (with both NetApp and third-party storage on the back end) NetApp clustered Data ONTAP 8.2 NetApp Flash Cache NetApp SnapDrive for Windows NetApp SnapManager for Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL Server, and SharePoint Server NetApp SnapManager for Oracle NetApp SnapMirror NetApp Snapshot technology NetApp SnapVault NetApp Virtual Storage Console for VMware vSphere NetApp deduplication NetApp Professional Services Third-Party Products Cisco Unified Computing System™ (UCS) B200 M3 servers Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switches Microsoft Exchange Server Microsoft SQL Server Microsoft SharePoint Server Oracle 11g VMware View VMware vSphere VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager Protocols NFS iSCSI