NetApp FAS2240 storage (initial product)
NetApp FAS3270 storage (upgrade planned)
Cisco Nexus® switches
Cisco UCS® blade servers
Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0
Data ONTAP 8
Integrated Data Protection
CIFS, iSCSI, FCP
Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
Microsoft Lync 2013
Microsoft SharePoint® 2013
Microsoft SQL Server® 2012
Microsoft System Center (planned)
Microsoft Windows Server® 2012
Bytes Technology Group
SMDSMD (www.smd.co.za) is one of South Africa’s leading vehicle management and sales companies with a focus on salvaged, preowned, repossessed, and commercially used vehicles. The company assists short-term insurers in the collection, processing, storage, and sale of salvage vehicles and helps private customers and dealers buy or sell a car. SMD has a nationwide network of auction and sales centers, and sells thousands of cars to the public every month. The company, with about 250 employees, is headquartered in Centurion, greater Pretoria, South Africa.
Pave the way for a new product:
SMD is an innovative partner to some of South Africa’s premier short-term insurers and banking and finance institutions, and it can provide tailor-made services for even the most demanding requirements. Its latest solution is Auto360, delivering a vehicle’s full history, including insurance claims, damage reports, and repairs, through a single pane of glass.
Auto360 is an ambitious endeavor from both a business and an IT perspective. Therefore, Marcel du Preez, head of IT at SMD, needed a platform that could host not only the Auto360 product, but also all of SMD’s standard business applications. The company standardizes on Microsoft products for its daily business and uses Microsoft Hyper-V for server virtualization. As often is the case in a mature environment, applications, virtual machines, and terabytes of data were spread over aging servers with disk and tape storage.
“Our fragmented IT infrastructure would not have been able to deliver on our plans with Auto360,” says du Preez. “We definitely needed a dedicated solution to run and fuel a big data business reliably.”
Du Preez defined the requirements for a data center environment that could accommodate an image-rich and storage-hungry business application: For each captured vehicle, Auto360 stores 36 high-definition images as well as tens of thousands of image tiles, collectively termed a visual transaction, to deliver a first-class user experience. Because images are edited and optimized for web access with HTML5, users can zoom each image to gain more details quickly. Currently, SMD adds a thousand visual transactions per month and expects a tremendous growth rate for the future.
FlexPod Datacenter platform
An integrated infrastructure stack with compute, network, and storage components promised to deliver the best results in terms of consolidation and ease of management. Paramount, however, was a massively scalable storage platform.
SMD evaluated offerings from leading vendors and finally chose a FlexPod solution proposed by NetApp partner Bytes. FlexPod integrates best-in-class NetApp and Cisco® components into a validated IT platform. The flexibility and density of the solution were compelling. But the decisive factor was the FlexPod design guide for Microsoft virtualization and the application-aware integration of NetApp and Microsoft products. “NetApp and Cisco were the only vendors who offered documentation for Microsoft Hyper-V. This was exactly what we needed and it was of great help when we customized the solution,” says du Preez.
Together with Bytes, SMD configured and fine-tuned the FlexPod platform for Hyper-V 3.0 and also used basic principles of the Microsoft private cloud solution. The team started with FlexPod Express, the entrylevel platform with NetApp FAS2240 storage, to explore the concept. Due to defined upgrade paths, it can be turned easily into a FlexPod Datacenter solution. To prepare for growing amounts of data, workloads, and traffic, SMD soon decided to switch to NetApp FAS3270 storage systems and also to adapt the Cisco components accordingly.
Deploy NetApp clustered Data ONTAP
With this move, SMD will rely on NetApp clustered Data ONTAP. The latest version of NetApp’s leading operating system provides always-on scale-out storage that meets the customer’s requirements for mixed workloads on a shared infrastructure, high performance, and growing content repositories. With this solution designed for nondisruptive operations, SMD will be able to serve its audience always and everywhere.
A single shared infrastructure to
serve all needs
SMD operates nationwide and provides centralized IT services for 14 branches. With the FlexPod platform in place, SMD runs and manages all applications and services in a single shared infrastructure. Both internal and external users enjoy high service levels, and the IT team has been able to reduce its management burden and simplify operations. SMD’s staff across the country benefits from a much higher quality of service because the IT team can react flexibly and quickly to any demands.
Big business with a big data cloud
Scalability and availability are the no. 1 topics at SMD—whether they involve applications, capacity, or performance. In terms of capacity, the FlexPod solution will soon prove its capabilities. SMD plans to expand its nationwide business and will equip another eight sites with vehicle-scanning facilities. Automated systems capture each vehicle from a 360° perspective to document its condition and repair work for customers and prospects.
“With eventually 40,000 transactions per month, the impact on the storage capacity will be enormous,” says du Preez. “I am confident that our IT is prepared to scale up and out when this happens.” His confidence also encompasses regulatory compliance. South Africa’s law demands keeping data available for at least three years.
Auto360 is an open product. It integrates seamlessly with external data sources such as licensing authorities, financial institutions, and credit bureaus. It also allows customizable reports that can be accessed through any business system. SMD plans to market the Auto360 product internationally, based on a licensing model. The salvage specialist is already in discussions with prospects in Africa and the Mediterranean region. With FlexPod Datacenter, the move to a fully grown cloud solution, including a user portal, will pave the company’s way to a global business with big data in a cloud.
“Leading technology serves the needs of our customers and makes FlexPod the right decision for SMD. The platform definitely meets our expectations for less hardware, easy scalability, and cloud operations”, says du Preez. “Clustered Data ONTAP will allow us to keep pace with our business without bothering about capacity or uptime.”
Salvage and vehicle management
Refurbish an aging IT, consolidate all applications and data on a single platform, and prepare to market an image-rich and storage-hungry product.
Implement a FlexPod® solution running Microsoft® Hyper-V® virtualization; deploy NetApp® clustered Data ONTAP® to prepare for growth.
- Simplified IT operations with a shared infrastructure for internal and external users
- Reduced management load through tight integration with Microsoft business applications and virtualization
- Improved quality of service for SMD’s staff across the country
- Gained seamless scalability to react flexibly and quickly on capacity demands
- Facilitated nationwide business expansion
- Paved the way to a global business with big data in a cloud