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Keeping up with growth is often taxing for a business’ technology infrastructure, and Hitachi Capital had pushed its servers as far as they could go. With further expansion on the horizon, Hitachi engaged Meridian to implement new IBM POWER8 servers to deliver the massive scalability and resiliency it needed to support its strong growth trajectory.

With its new IBM POWER8 servers and Storwize V7000 storage, Hitachi Capital is set to maintain its strong growth trajectory, with the availability, resiliency, and scalability that its expanding business requires. “We have the capacity for 500% growth over the next five years,” remarks Mark Fallon. “We have more than enough space to add the new applications we want- ed, and we no longer have to worry about constantly remediating our data – all this new storage space gives us plenty of breathing room, it’s truly liberating.”

Thanks to FlashCopy, Hitachi Capital is saving hours every day on its end-of-day processing. “Day-end used to take around two hours, due to the tape back- ups we used to take before and after the process.

With Meridian’s help we’ve cut it down to just 30 minutes.” He adds: “And since we no longer have to take our systems offline while we’re running full monthly backups, FlashCopy automation has also cut resource costs.”

Mark Fallon concludes: “We came in on-time and on budget – it was probably one of the best IT projec ts we’ve ever done at Hitachi Capital. In fact, we were so pleased that our senior management team wrote Meridian an unsolicited letter to share with prospective customers as a reference document. Meridian went above and beyond to help us through our infrastructure transformation, and any business would be lucky to have their support.”

Our experience with Meridian had been overwhelmingly positive; their support has always been first-rate. What’s more, Meridian was a good fit with our internal team. It was a clear decision to get Meridian on board to help us choose, implement and maintain the new infrastructure.

Mark Fallon

Unix and Storage Team Leader

The Challenges

With over 30 years’ experience providing innovative finance solutions that help customers grow and prosper, Hitachi Capital is one of the UK’s leading financial service providers. A wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Capital Corporation, the business employs more than 1,200 people and offers market-leading services to over one million customers.

Over the last seven years, Hitachi Capital’s profits have grown by 35 percent each year, and its assets by 20 percent. Growth on such a large scale does not come without its challenges; the business finance division of the organisation had expanded to such a degree that its IT infrastructure was struggling to support it.

Mark Fallon, Unix and Storage Team Leader at Hitachi Capital, takes up the story: “Our business finance division had been running its core applications on an IBM System i server for years, and it had simply run out of capacity. Since we were using internal disk storage, we had no way of expanding the capacity any further. We wanted to add new applications, such as IBM MQ, but we didn’t have space for them.”

As Hitachi Capital expanded, it also wanted to improve its resiliency and disaster recovery capabilities. Mark Fallon explains: “The larger we get, with more assets and more critical data, the greater the potential impact of a disaster becomes. Thousands of businesses rely on us for financing, so we can’t afford to lose any data, and we can’t risk our systems going down.” Aiming to support further growth, Hitachi Capital set its sights on transforming its IT infrastructure to meet the demands of its booming business.

How Meridian Helped

Meridian had been providing support for Hitachi Capital’s System i server, and when it came to upgrading the environment, this previous experience gave the finance provider a level of trust that Meridian was the right partner for the project. “Our experience with Meridian had been overwhelmingly positive; their support has always been first-rate. What’s more, Meridian was a good fit with our internal team. It was a clear decision to get Meridian on board to help us choose, implement and maintain the new infrastructure.”

Following Meridian’s advice, Hitachi Capital decided to install two new IBM POWER8 servers with IBM Storwize V7000 External storage at its production data centre, and a third machine at its disaster recovery site. “The new Power servers completely changed the game for us,” says Mark Fallon. “We split our production, and pre-production and test workload between the two machines at our main data centre, so we can use Live Partition Mobility to flip the workloads back and forth between them. This is a huge perk since it enables us to perform server maintenance without bringing down our applications – we promptly move the entire workload to the other server for the duration of the maintenance.”

Similarly, in the unlikely event that one of Hitachi Capital’s servers crashes, it can use the Simplified Remote Restart feature to restart partitions on the second server rapidly. “In the past, even if we only had an issue on one machine, we would have to fail everything over to the disaster recovery site – not just our Power boxes, but also all of the auxiliary x86 servers around them. Failovers used to take so long that it was often faster to wait for repair on the production server. “Now, thanks to Simplified Remote Restart, we can just fire up the relevant partitions on the second Power server, with minimal data loss – we only have to resort to the DR site in the most disastrous circumstances, such as a complete power outage which saves a considerable amount of time and dramatically boosts resiliency.”

Thanks to the IBM Storwize V7000, Hitachi Capital’s storage capacity issues are also a thing of the past. As external storage, the V7000 offers enormously improved scalability. Additionally, the V7000 gives Hitachi Capital access to IBM FlashCopy functionality. “With FlashCopy we can make a copy of a partition far more quickly than it would take to back up the same data to a tape,” says Mark Fallon. “We can simply use FlashCopy and then make a single tape backup from the FlashCopy itself. By completing the process through FlashCopy, we can now run the backup on a separate partition, reducing end-of-day processing time to just 30 minutes.” He adds: “To automate the FlashCopy backup process, we’re using Full System Copy Services Manager, which is an advanced tool developed by IBM Lab Services. Meridian deserves credit for introducing us to this leading-edge technology, which helps us get the most out of our infrastructure with minimal effort.”

 

Case Study