Private cloud drives up efficiency at Xtralis

Moderate increase in public cloud services planned

Xtralis CIO, Simarjit Chhabra

Xtralis CIO, Simarjit Chhabra

Hazard detection system vendor, Xtralis, is reaping the rewards of greater efficiencies with server utilisation rates of up to 70 per cent thanks to a private cloud initiative that goes back three years, says the company's CIO.

Simarjit Chhabra joined Xtralis three and a half years ago as chief information officer and immediately set about re-engineering the company’s infrastructure.

“I was lucky to have support from senior management and we built a 100 per cent virtualised infrastructure three years ago,” Chhabra said, adding he brought in Dell to help look at the infrastructure.

“We’re 100 per cent virtualised with Microsoft and some Linux and we know if we need more capacity we can cater for that in the private cloud. And if people are not using a virtual machine, we can shut it down.”

Xtralis’ private cloud project was leading edge for its time and the infrastructure went from 150 physical servers down to 13.

“Now we are getting over 70 per cent server efficiency,” Chhabra said, adding he continues to look at ways to reduce physical servers.

Xtralis build its private cloud in the VMware hypervisor technology and Chhabra said maintenance costs have risen 45 per cent in three years.

The company is now testing Citrix’s Xen-based virtualisation technology, including for virtual desktops.

Chhabra said the private cloud is “quite manageable” with Active Directory and Microsoft is working to integrate the management of private and public cloud infrastructure, “but it’s not quite there yet”.

“We have hybrid model with about 85 per cent of services on the private cloud and 15 per cent on public clouds,” he said.

Chhabra estimates another 5 to 10 per cent of services will be moved to public clouds over the next 12 months.

The types of public cloud services Xtralis uses include Wordpress (for an intranet) and Microsoft and it is investigating the feasibility of antivirus services in the cloud. The company also recently singed up Dell for service desk support.

“We are moving infrastructure and applications to public clouds but services like Amazon’s EC2 may not be ideal for bandwidth-intensive tasks,” Chhabra said.

“Maybe the NBN will change this.”

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.

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