Blue Medora helps News UK reduce average downtime by 95%

Hot off the presses: Blue Medora True Visibility Suite for VMware vRealize Operations enables newspaper publisher to meet crucial deadlines

Executive Summary

An audit of News UK’s IT processes revealed it was missing the correct monitoring tools to ensure proactive visibility of its infrastructure and applications, resulting in downtime and lost revenue. After installing the Blue Medora True Visibility Suite for VMware vRealize Operations (vROps), the newspaper’s P2 incidents have been reduced from 15 to 2 per month on average, and of those 2, it took only 20% of the time it took previously to recover. News UK has also seen reduced downtime amounting to 95% (994 mins a month versus 43 mins) and improved operations through:

  • A clearer, more holistic view into its on-premise Cisco UCS, NetApp and NetScaler environments
  • Faster identification of any issues and clear guidance on their resolution
  • More focused pinpointing of problems leading to improved employee productivity

The expected saving on storage maintenance costs will be over £3 million over four years, with the overall cost savings over the next four years estimated at £6 million.

Challenges

News UK is a London-based newspaper publisher, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of News Corp. It publishes the UK’s bestselling newspapers, The Sun and The Times, as well as The Sunday Times. The company’s IT organisation consists of Cisco UCS servers, split between two data centres, running VMware virtualisation software, Linux and Windows operating systems. Its software estate includes infrastructure, management and monitoring applications as well as a content management system and specific editorial and workflow applications. News UK maintains strict deadlines for the printing and distribution of its newspapers; missed deadlines means lost revenue. If the organisation misses its print deadline by even a few minutes, fewer newspapers are printed – and subsequently purchased – with revenue from advertising also affected. With no room for downtime, optimisation of the organisation’s IT systems is essential.

After experiencing multiple unforeseen instances of downtime from service failures and interruptions, the group decided to overhaul the on-premises IT infrastructure. News UK also realised its aging and disparate monitoring applications were performing poorly – issues were taking too long to identify, and fixing them involved numerous groups of employees from different parts of the company.

One Monitoring Tool Replaces Many

News UK wanted to replace the handful of different tools used to monitor the virtualized data center with one solution that provides a holistic view of crucial software applications. It turned to the Blue Medora True Visibility Suite for VMware vROps, a solution that is seamlessly integrated with the organisation’s on-premises Cisco UCS, Cisco Nexus, NetApp and NetScaler IT systems.

The team found the True Visibility Suite allowed them to standardize on VMware vRealize Operations as it centralised operations platform giving the team clear visibility at every layer of the IT stack across physical and virtualized environments.

After successfully deploying the True Visibility Suite in a test environment, News UK rolled out each management pack in phases. Juan Beetge, News UK storage and compute manager, and his team immediately found that a single holistic view of its applications and IT infrastructure could pinpoint issues much faster, using fewer people and resources, and reducing the average downtime by 95%.

“Having one holistic view of the infrastructure, we can now pinpoint the problem directly, and we know the right people within our company to call to address it.”

Juan Beetge
Storage & Compute Manager
UK News
Results, Return on Investment and Future Plans

“In terms of the results, we definitely have much clearer visibility into the Cisco UCS and NetScaler alerts,” explains Beetge. “We had Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) monitor the Cisco UCS and the NetApp Flexpod system before but when we deployed the Blue Medora Management Packs for vROps, we immediately noticed it gave us clearer visibility of the different components. It also gave us better metrics and more customisable alerts than what SCOM provided.”

He continues: “The SCOM alerts would give a lot of codes with no real working out of the fault itself, but the Blue Medora management pack not only gives a default code  and information of the fault itself, it also offers some resolution recommendations, which help us avoid wasting time that could be spent solving business problems.”

By implementing the True Visibility Suite, News UK was able to

Reduce its average downtime by 95% (994 minutes a month versus 43 minutes)

Scale down its useable data requirement from 2.2 PB to around 1 PB

Reduce its data centre footprint from 42 racks per data centre to 20 racks per data centre

Lower electricity usage approximately 50% (from 376KWh to 178KWh)

Save over £3 million on storage maintenance costs over four years

Lower overall cost savings over the next four years by an estimated £6 million

News UK has also discovered troubleshooting with the True Visibility Suite is now much easier and faster than before. “Also, because users have more information in vROps from the different elements such as networks, they can see how their systems interact or rely on different components. Whereas before those connections weren’t visible, which made troubleshooting more difficult,” said Beetge.

“The management packs are great; they are very well thought of – small things like the icons make sense, how the information is presented, and the value they add to the whole vROps solution itself,” he adds.

In addition, the data now available also helps News UK plan for the future, with additional metrics from the True Visibility Suite that enable the company to understand what effect any changes in IT will make on future capacity. The expected saving on storage maintenance costs will be over £3 million over four years, with the overall cost savings over the next four years estimated at £6 million.

News UK plans to continue working with Blue Medora in the future, as the True Visibility Suite continues to safeguard the organisation against costly downtime. “We’ve experienced very good communication with the team at Blue Medora; it’s been very interactive, and they are keen to do business and understand our problems, and deliver us a proper solution,” Beetge said.

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