Farmers Insurance Group Federal Credit Union Relies on Nutanix
Fast and highly available server and storage for new VDI installation
Nutanix Complete Cluster in two remote data centers
- High availability, especially automatic node failover
- Performance superior to traditional server and SAN
- Ease of use – only 20 minutes to learn GUI
- Responsive support with VMware expertise
Farmers Insurance Group Federal Credit Union (FIGFCU) is a member-owned, non-profit financial institution with over 40,000 members, 4,400 branches and $650 million in assets.
A Perfect Fit for VDI
The IT department at FIGFCU was transitioning from Citrix XenApp to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and needed server and storage infrastructure to support it. VDI hosts user desktops on a centralized server and streams the display data to client devices. VDI is easier for IT to manage and support than traditional desktop computing environments, and the total cost of ownership is lower. At the same time, it is especially important the servers and storage have ample performance and high availability because all users depend on them for their desktop and day-to-day work.
Rodney Perkins, IT Director at FIGFCU and VDI project leader, learned about the Nutanix Complete Cluster as a platform for VDI and was intrigued about what he had read and researched in trying to find the right fit for his environment. The Complete Cluster’s scale-out architecture and converged compute and storage provide a small footprint and avoid the expense of a SAN. Its built-in hypervisor and performance and availability features are well- suited for VDI. “I found it was definitely going to be of interest once we moved forward with VDI,” he said.
“The main selling point for us was the failover technology and being able to implement a better plan for Business Continuity as well as having our end users working without missing a beat, in the case where there’s a disaster or outage due to failing equipment.” added Perkins. The fault tolerance and data redundancy of the Complete Cluster allows it to continue operating without data loss even if a complete node fails. This capability gave (FIGFCU) confidence to deliver the high availability their end-users required.
The performance resources of the Nutanix system were also attractive. Each Nutanix Complete Block includes 4 compute nodes with a total of 8 Intel Xeon processors (48 cores), 4 Fusion-io ioDrive cards, 4 SSDs and up to 768 GB of RAM. These high-performance features accelerate application response times and help deliver a fluid user experience in a virtual desktop.
FIGFCU also considered traditional rack or blade servers and a small SAN from HP or IBM as the alternative. However, Perkins considered the performance inadequate, and they would have had to purchase more equipment upfront than necessary.
In the end, they chose Nutanix. “It’s perfect – it has everything we need,” he said.
I know my engineers were awed about the technology and how easy it was setting things up and the performance of the virtual desktops was amazing. The whole installation of the Nutanix Block and configuration was just so user friendly. I can’t say enough about that.
Testing and Installation at Two Data Centers
FIGFCU is installing two Nutanix Complete Blocks, one at a data center in Texas and the other at a data center in Los Angeles. Half of the company’s users will be supported from Texas and the rest from Los Angeles. In the event of a local disaster or system failure, all users will fail over to the remaining data center.
The IT staff only needed about 20 minutes to learn the Nutanix web-based Command Center console and start to configure the system. The console provides a central view and management of the entire stack, both server and storage resources. “I know my engineers were awed about the technology and how easy it was setting things up and the performance of the virtual desktops was amazing. The whole installation of the Nutanix Block and configuration was just so user friendly. I can’t say enough about that,” said Perkins.
They tested VDI solutions with performance measurement software as well as limited user tests. The software tools they used were from Liquidware Labs and Login VSI. Users completed surveys to give feedback on their experiences. The results were analyzed and used to fine-tune the system and ultimately choose a VDI solution.
FIGFCU rates Nutanix support highly. The engineers are very responsive. During the initial testing, they stayed with the FIGFCU team throughout until all the issues were resolved. They noted it was especially helpful the engineers were fluent working in a VMware.
Enthusiasm for Nutanix
Looking back on the VDI project, Perkins was pleased to find Nutanix and felt enthusiastic about how the Complete Cluster will contribute to the success of FIGFCU’s IT environment now and in the future.