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UK's Largest Credit Rating Agency: Centralized management solution for all devices

Experian

Experian is a global information solutions provider that has grown rapidly in the last 15 years. Its 12,000 employees support clients in more than 60 countries, working with more than 50,000 clients across many diverse industries, achieving annual sales revenue exceeding £1.3 billion. The business is delivered across four main vertical service areas, which are delivered through a horizontal management function. Within the UK, vertical business functions (Information Services, Card Management Services, Direct Marketing Services and Decision Support Services) may be split across multiple geographical sites but need to have common access to internal human/information resources and processes. Resources (such as Research & Development, Application Build, Customer Management and Technology Services, etc.) therefore operate horizontally across both business and geo- graphical boundaries of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and the Asia Pacific region, with an expectation that individual national operations will move towards common standards and practices.

Fairham House - the new data center

Adrian Dyson, Experian UK’s Head of Command Center & Automation: “Experian’s purpose-built data center has been created to provide our clients with a safe, secure, highly resilient facility for delivering mission-critical services. More than a building, the project underlines our commitment to fulfilling our responsibilities in terms of looking after client data and continuously improving the service we provide. The development represents an investment of £31.6 million and it will become our main computing center for Europe, meeting our capacity requirements for the next 10 to 15 years. The data center replaces our two processing centers at Talbot House and Abbey House, Nottingham, with Talbot House becoming our disaster recovery center. Operational teams will offer 24/7 year round support and improved service levels. At this moment, around 700 servers are installed and the number is expected to grow up to a maximum of 5,000 servers.”

Why was a KVM solution necessary for Experian?

Through its phenomenal growth, the business outgrew its existing central Nottingham data center. The U/C Technology Services group planned a new state-of-the-art data center on the outskirts of Nottingham which would accommodate its business and projected growth for many years. Technology Services is responsible for the delivery of all technology platforms, both physical and logical, to all business and service functions within Experian worldwide, except for North America.

This includes both internal business resources and the platforms sup- porting delivery of external information solutions to Experian’s clients. The Technology Services Group has specific responsibility for all non-mainframe platforms, which includes the delivery of all networks (WAN, LAN and Voice), business and client server platforms (HP/Windows, various types of UNIX) and desk top services, includ- ing PCs, printers and hand-held devices.

Remote control and administration of servers was being achieved using a variety of methods, including several different software packages and various KVM hardware. UNIX serial devices were accessed through standard Telnet.

When investing £30 million plus in a new data center, it was essential that there was a consolidation of technology, rationalization of busi- ness practices and a standardization of corporate management tools. As part of this change program, a system that offered centralized man- agement and secure, audited access, allowing the control and adminis- tration of hundreds of different servers for both internal and external users was a necessity.

"The Dominion SX switch offers a level of serial access that we had long hoped for but never quite achieved. When you consider the added centralized management benefits that CommandCenter® brings, it makes it a solution unparalleled in today's market place.”
Adrian Dyson
Head of Experian's Command Centre and Automation

Adrian Dyson, Experian UK’s Head of Command Center & Automation: “Raritan offered a level of flexibility, scalability and security that its competitors could not match.”

World-class IT solutions

“As we all become increasingly reliant on technology and online serv- ices, providing continuous availability and yet remaining responsive to change becomes even more crucial. The new data center requires world-class IT solutions, providing us with greatly improved capability to maintain and process client data, as well as providing growth capac- ity for at least the next ten years,” according to Adrian Dyson.

The requirements for the KVM solution were defined as:

  • To maximize security and limit physical access to the data center itself
  • To simultaneously and securely manage multiple platform servers
  • To remotely manage servers/serial/network devices using an IP connection
  • To have a scalable solution to cope with future growth
  • Increase the operational efficiency of the data center
  • and uptime of its services
  • To improve productivity and the working environment of the technical management team
  • To deliver a centralized management solution for all devices including a complete audit trail of all logs
CommandCenter: Centralized management

“We made a thorough market scan and looked closely at all major KVM suppliers,” says Adrian Dyson. “After initial enquiries, we decided to fully test the Avocent and the Raritan solutions and con- cluded that Raritan offered better security, centralized management and scalability over the Avocent DS Series. Being an appliance-based solution, it did not rely on a Windows platform for operation. Raritan offered a level of flexibility, scalability and of security that its competitors could not match.”

The solution chosen was a combination of digital Dominion KX and Dominion SX switches for their Wintel and UNIX devices, centrally controlled by CommandCenter Secure Gateway and front ended by a Paragon UMT1664 analog KVM system to give 16 users totally unblocked access to all of the servers in the data center for internal staff, independent of the LAN. External staff will access servers over IP or dial-in modem.

Combining analog and digital gave the best of two worlds: non-blocked, high-quality video and secure access via analog KVM solutions - and flexible, scalable, anywhere anytime access via digital KVM switches. Support staff can access the Raritan KVM switches independently of the network, which means they can have fast and secure access - in every eventuality - to mission-critical servers.

Experian is very enthusiastic about the Dominion SX and the CommandCenter Secure Gateway. Adrian: “The Dominion SX switch offers a level of serial access that we had long hoped for but never quite achieved. When you consider the added centralized management benefits that CommandCenter brings, it makes it a solution unparalleled in today’s market place.”

Act as a team

The Data Center Solutions and Services division of Comrac Ltd. offers an independent consultancy to recommend the most efficient KVM Applications, whether you have remote sites throughout the world or are planning to build a new data center. Comrac Ltd. has played a significant part in Experian’s new data center in three specific areas: cabinets, KVM solutions and video wall systems. “Raritan’s commitment and close working partnership with Comrac Ltd. helped deliver a solution that meets the needs of our support teams whilst maintaining high levels of control,” according to Adrian.

On top of the complete Raritan centralized management KVM solution, Comrac Ltd. provided a bespoke generic cabinet to house Experian’s multi platform servers. To assist the operations team in both immediate problem-solving and training purposes, Comrac Ltd. provided Experian with two large cubed video walls to display full Enterprise Network information and also display any level of detail down to individual servers held within the data center. Due to the success of the close relationship and the flexible and scalable solutions deployed, Experian will look to build on continued cooperation with Comrac Ltd. and Raritan for further installations and expansions as the facility grows.

Learn More About Raritan
Customer

Experian is a global information services group with operations in 60 countries.

Challenges
  • Consolidation of a variety of technologies employed for remote access and control.
  • Securely manage multiple servers, serial and network devices over IP.
Solutions
  • KVM-over-IP remote equipment management - Dominion KX and Dominion SX Secure Console Server.
  • Centralized device administration with CommandCenter Secure Gateway (CS-SG) and Paragon analog KVM.
Results
  • Fast, secure access to mission-critical servers.
  • High quality video and control of devices through a combination of analog and digital switches.
  • Centralized management of all devices that is scalable for future needs.

 


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