Bonhams Standardizes US I.T. with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

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June 24, 2013

Bonhams, an international auction house, wanted to replace its aging servers with a reliable, scalable, and cost-effective platform that enabled remote management of global IT assets while supporting full disaster recovery.

Customer: Bonhams

Industry: Other
Geography: EMEA
Country: United Kingdom


Business Challenge:

Bonhams, an international auction house, wanted to replace its aging servers with a reliable, scalable, and cost-effective platform that enabled remote management of global IT assets while supporting full disaster recovery.

Migration Path:

Bonhams migrated from an aging Windows NT 4 and Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 environment to Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, with the ultimate goal of global standardization on Red Hat.

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Hardware:

IBM System x 3650 class servers, Intel Xeon processors, IBM System Storage DS35240

Benefits:

By choosing Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Bonhams managed to slash 50 percent of software licensing and maintenance costs and reduce its 34 servers down to 8, without sacrificing reliability and reducing the risk of downtime.

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Background:

“The overall cost of the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization implementation in the US was just over half the cost of an equivalent VMware project the UK incurred." - Robin Porter, business development manager, Quru

Business Challenge:

Enabling a disaster recovery plan with remote management

Founded in 1793, Bonhams is a privately owned British auction house, and one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The Bonhams name is known worldwide throughout all sectors of the fine art, antiques, and collectors markets, with several departments regarded as leaders in their specialist category. Bonhams has a global network of offices in 25 countries.

After an exciting period of growth through significant mergers and acquisitions in the US, Bonhams faced an aging collection of unsupported, end-of-life systems. In addition, the New York and San Francisco branches needed a shared datacentre disaster recovery plan, which was a major challenge given they are 3,000 miles apart.

Bonhams’ technical support is provided by Quru, a UK-based Red Hat Premier Partner and specialist in the development, deployment, and support of Linux and open source solutions. Quru recommended that the global company now needed a scalable, cost-effective system that allowed for remote management and supported its disaster recovery strategy. Bonhams had already virtualized the IT infrastructure in its UK offices in 2009, so it was looking to undertake a similar project in the US. Previously, the company chose VMware to provide virtualization solutions in the UK and was frustrated with the maintenance and licensing costs as well as vendor lock-in. Consequently, Bonhams wanted to avoid similar constraints and costs in the US, and looked for an alternative solution.

“The virtualization of the servers in Bonhams’ UK office was a half-a-million pound project, 50 percent of which was spent on licenses. Having been a Red Hat Enterprise Linux user since 2002, it made perfect business sense for Bonhams to deploy Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization in the US, avoiding lock up and eliminating licensing costs,” said Robin Porter, business development manager, Quru.

Solution:

Cutting costs in half

Implementing Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization has made Bonhams’ operations more efficient and stable by consolidating the 34 servers in its New York and San Francisco offices down to 8. Running on IBM System x 3650 class servers, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization enables secure remote management of IT assets and full support for a worldwide disaster recovery strategy. The servers run Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisors, and the infrastructure is managed by 2 Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Managers running on dedicated IBM System x 3550 servers — one in each location.

“Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization has equipped us with a reliable plan should a catastrophic failure occur in either of our US locations,” said Simon Chiu, Bonhams senior systems engineer in San Francisco. “We are now able to take live snapshots of our virtual machines and synchronise those backup files to each data centre. When needed, the virtual machine can easily be rebuilt using the most recent backup and all services will be up and running within hours from the alternate location.”

The virtualization platform also enabled remote management. Using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization with KVM technology, UK-based administrators can now easily control Bonhams’ IT assets around the world, significantly increasing server availability and IT productivity. “The overall cost of the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization implementation in the US was just over half of cost of an equivalent VMware project in the UK,” said Robin Porter, business development manager for Quru. “With this implementation, we managed to reduce the number of servers by more than 75 percent while saving 50 percent on software licensing and maintenance costs.”

Also, the IBM System x servers, using KVM technology, are simplifying administration and boosting efficiencies across the entire organization. “Cost is a very strong argument for virtualizing on Red Hat, but when it comes to performance, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization is clearly outperforming VMware in Bonhams’ US environment,” said Porter.

Benefits:

A future-proof strategy

To ensure its main offices are future proofed, Bonhams will migrate the IT infrastructure in its UK office from VMware to Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.

“We are currently planning to help Bonhams replace their entire VMware infrastructure with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization” said Porter. “We will do this for less than the cost of one year’s maintenance for all the software.”

By standardising on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Bonhams knows its IT infrastructure can easily scale as its auction business continues to grow. At the same time, it has the comfort of a secure disaster recovery plan and full remote management support of its global IT assets.

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