The insurance business is fast-paced and dynamic, so IT must provide fast processing and storage that’s both available and easy to manage.

When Durban-based insurer FMI needed to refresh its existing IBM systems, it turned to long-time partner Network Configurations to help it deploy a platform that will take it into the future.

Insurers have a legal and moral obligation to be on hand to assist customers at all times, and to process claims as quickly and accurately as possible.

“So, the new platform had to guarantee high availability,” says Network Configurations MD Iain Emerson. “They also needed a modernised platform that would allow for virtualization in a Microsoft environment.”

It was important for FMI to install hardware that would allow it scale and grow as needed while providing high availability.

Having run on IBM hardware and storage for years, FMI was happy for Lenovo to provide its required platform for growth.

FMI became the first customer in South Africa to implement Lenovo’s new ThinkSystem SR650 servers as well as its DS Series ThinkSystem storage area network.

“The implementation was a complete data center refresh on to the Microsoft platform,” Emerson explains. “FMI now runs its virtualised servers using the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor.”

The storage system provides a mix of traditional hard drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD) to give FMI the best possible cost-efficiency and speed.

“Performance is key for an insurance business,” Emerson explains. “Using SSDs ensures the best possible application performance. At the same time, omitting latency ensures there is no degradation in performance.”

The ability to manage the entire system from a single pane of glass is another big value-add, he points out. “Ease of management in a complex environment is crucial for FMI. And they have been able to achieve this without bringing on any additional skills or overheads.”

Implementation of the new system was quick and painless, Emerson adds. “We started the implementation in November 2017 when the servers landed in South Africa and switched over to the new system in the first week of December. This included installation of all hardware and software and the complete transition to Hyper-V.

“In total, the implementation took about three weeks, and there was no downtime at all.”

Most implementations run into at least a handful of unexpected issues or challenges, but Emerson says there were no hardware problems at all in the FMI deployment.

“We were able to install the hardware, and it just simply ran. This meant that we and the IT team at FMI could focus on migrating the applications and data. The client has been very happy with the new system.”

Moving forward with Lenovo as a hardware partner was an easy decision for FMI to make, Emerson says. “Their first major investment into server and storage hardware was IBM environment, which that had for five years, and wanted the same reliability and performance with the new system.”

“The transition to Lenovo was seamless, and the hardware offers the same levels of reliability and availability they are used to.”

Network Configurations knew all about how Lenovo has upheld the IBM reputation for quality since they have used robust and reliable ThinkPad laptops and servers for over 15 years.

“They have never had a bad experience with their Lenovo products, so they were happy to work with Lenovo on the data center refresh.”

Network Configurations has worked with FMI for nearly 10 years and recently completed an Office 365 migration for the insurer.


Speed and agility with DS Series ThinkSystem storage

The ThinkSystem DS Series Storage has achieved the number one price/performance score ranking in the Storage Performance Council’s SPC-1 v3 benchmark.

This adds to the 42 performance records Lenovo’s ThinkSystem portfolio of servers, storage and networking solutions have already achieved, according to industry-leading benchmark organisations.

In today’s diverse and ever-changing data management market, customers are increasingly operating workloads like database, video surveillance, backup, archive and high-performance computing (HPC) tasks.

Each of these workloads demands high performance and reliability from a storage solution, but in many cases, legacy vendors package these capabilities with other expensive features that customers may not need but are required to pay extra for.

With no legacy architectures to restrict innovation, Lenovo storage solutions, including the DS Series, are changing fundamental storage economics for customers by delivering essential features and efficient high performance with significant savings over traditional legacy storage solutions.

The ThinkSystem DS Series includes Rapid Technology, such as Rapid Data Placement Engine and Rapid RAID Rebuild, to deliver high performance and high availability for all flash storage and hybrid SAN storage.

The DS Series is also available in three performance levels, the DS2200, DS4200, and DS6200, to address a variety of data-intensive workloads ranging from databases, backup and archive, media streaming and departmental high-performance computing (HPC) and OpenStack for small- to medium-sized (SMB) and enterprise customers.

For businesses and clients looking for the most performance from every dollar spent, the DS Series delivers extreme flexibility and performance features like maximum IOPS and high availability that customers require now and in the future – without breaking the bank.


ThinkSystem SR650 ups the ante with scalability

The recently-launched ThinkSystem SR650 servers offer the versatility and scalability that CIOs need to grow their businesses.

The servers have and optimised system design that can meet performance and cost points for almost any workload, while offering leading system management and complying with continuous operation standards.

The ThinkSystem SR650 incorporates up to two powerful Intel Xeon processor Scalable family CPUs, with 27% more cores and twice the memory capacity of the previous generation server.

It supports two 300W high-performance GPUs and ML2 NIC adapters with shared management.

Unique Lenovo AnyBay technology provides the flexibility to mix-and-match SAS/SATA HDDs/SSDs and NVMe SSDs in the same drive bays.

Four direct-connect NVMe ports on the motherboard provide ultra-fast read/writes with NVMe drives and reduce costs by eliminating PCIe switch adapters.

In addition, storage can be tiered for greater application performance, to provide the most cost-effective solution. Optional mirrored M.2 drives ensure reliability and quick OS initialisation.

SR650 also features 80 PLUS Platinum and Titanium PSUs, as well as continuous operation at 45°C, to reduce energy costs.


XClarity ensures ease of management

Lenovo XClarity Controller is an all-new hardware embedded management engine common in every ThinkSystem server.

XClarity Controller features an uncluttered graphical user interface, industry standard Redfish-compliant REST APIs, and enables booting in half the time of prior generation servers, with up to six-times faster firmware updates.

Lenovo XClarity Administrator is a virtualised application that centrally manages ThinkSystem servers, storage, and networking. Via reusable patterns and policies, it ramps up and scales infrastructure provisioning and maintenance.

It serves as a central integration point to extend data center management processes to physical IT.

Running XClarity Integrators in external IT applications, or integrating through REST APIs, helps to further speed services provisioning, streamline IT management, and contain costs.