Case Study: Clientèle Life Future-proofs Storage with Elastic and Scalable InfiniBox Solution from Infinidat

About Clientèle Life

Clientèle Life is part of the Clientèle Limited Group, a diversified financial services group listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The well-known company has offered affordable funeral cover, health, legal and life insurance to the market for the past 25 years, with convenient, easy to understand products. Furthermore, Clientèle Limited Group has consistently been rated in the top 50 companies for sustainable growth and return on shareholder interests on the JSE.

As part of the insurance and financial services sector, data storage is of utmost importance, not only for daily operations and client services but also compliance obligations.

A challenge and an opportunity

Clientèle Life’s existing data storage solution was reaching end of support. In addition, their foray into hyperconverged storage had not produced the anticipated performance benefits. In order to address this issue, it would have required the costly addition of new compute nodes. This presented an opportunity to find a solution that would better cater to their current and future needs.

Their requirements included a three-tier architecture, high availability, high performance and support for the virtualised environment as well as excellent replication capabilities. Above all, Clientèle Life needed flexibility to allow the solution to scale at short notice without impacting daily business operations.

“We run a 96% virtualised environment, with more than 350 virtual servers hosted on eight production and six Disaster Recovery (DR) VMware hosts. Our entire company, from telephony systems to our Structured Query Language (SQL) database, relies on our back-end storage, making high availability critical to our business operations. In the past, we needed to upgrade our solution every three years to meet performance, capacity and availability requirements. This became costly and we therefore required a more robust solution. This is where Infinidat came into the picture with its reputable solution, augmented by a unique elastic price model. The model also allows us to have additional storage instantly available whilst only paying for what we use,” explained Riaan Moller, Storage and VMware Environment Manager at Clientèle Life.

The solution

Infinidat supplied Clientèle Life with two InfiniBox F4230 appliances, for synchronous replication between its production and DR data centres. The units have a total capacity of 1 Petabyte (PB), of which they are currently using 600 Terabytes (TB) across both environments. Through intelligent software algorithms, the InfiniBox appliances use commodity hardware to offer the highest performance  at a disruptive price. In addition, pricing is completely transparent and all necessary licensing and functionality is included up front.

“This solution has not only met Clientèle Life’s data storage requirements from a cost efficiency and performance perspective but it has also provided them with a competitive advantage. To make sure these benefits are maintained, Infinidat provides local support and offers proactive monitoring to ensure constant uptime and availability,” said Hayden Sadler, Country Manager for South Africa at Infinidat.

The project and implementation

In January 2020, the appliances were officially installed and by mid-March all of Clientèle Life’s data had been migrated. The project was completed shortly before South Africa entered lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, the system has been in full production since the end of March with multiple 10 Gigabit Ethernet links for replication.

“Thankfully we were able to complete our migration in time. The remote access capabilities of InfiniBox were an important part of keeping our back-end systems up and running,” said Keith Fagan, Infrastructure Services Manager at Clientèle Life.

In addition, Infinidat provided full training on the system – two engineers at Clientèle Life are now certified. This was another important consideration, as it allowed the team to gain in-depth understanding of their system in order to maintain and run it independently. This is with the ongoing support of Infinidat at a global level.

The benefits

The InfiniBox appliances deliver both high performance and 100% availability. This is critical, as Clientèle Life stores a vast amount of data that needs to be available at all times.

“Since we installed the system, we have experienced zero downtime, thanks to the triple redundancy offered by Infinidat. This also facilitates us to replace or upgrade storage components without impacting production systems, which on our previous storage arrays would have required downtime. It gives us greater flexibility and has allowed us to future-proof our storage solution, since our capacity can grow alongside our ever-growing business and data requirements,” said Moller.

In addition to these benefits, Clientèle Life has seen a 40% improvement on database consistency checks since migrating the SQL environment onto the Infinidat solution. The previous system performed asynchronous replication, whereas Infinidat offers synchronous capabilities that result in significant performance enhancements. This ensures data is backed up and recoverable at all times, bolstering data security.

“The technology has met and exceeded our expectations; it simply does what it is supposed to without intervention. It has given Clientèle Life an even higher degree of confidence with regards to our technology and storage infrastructure. We are assured that our data is secure and can be recovered at all times. Additionally, we have an excellent relationship with Infinidat who provide proactive management and support. Our Infinidat solution is delivering a Return on Investment (ROI) through savings, enabling us to do more with fewer resources,” Moller concluded.

Based on Clientèle Life’s need to futureproof its storage, the requirements for an increase in capacity is not a case of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ In Infinidat, Clientèle Life has selected an organisation that offers a strategic solution, which can be easily and quickly scaled depending on its requirements.