Mar 05 2013

How the Mortgage Crisis Made One Company Switch to a Private Cloud

Processing an overwhelming mountain of paperwork from the housing bust helped the Walz Group realize the need for a private cloud.

When the housing crisis hit, the Walz Group, a 130-person company based in Temecula, Calif., felt the strain. The company processes critical communications, such as foreclosure paperwork, for financial firms, mortgage servicers, legal firms and others.

By January 2008, foreclosures had hit an all-time high, and mortgage debt on subprime loans reached $9 trillion. Bart Falzarano, the Walz Group’s chief information security officer, says the accompanying jump in foreclosure processing, paperwork for new government regulations, and loan modification applications put a strain on the company’s IT resources.

The solution was a private cloud based on NetApp’s FlexPod that would let the IT staff centrally manage, provision and secure new servers, network devices and storage through web-based interfaces. The FlexPod platform combines NetApp storage and Fibre Channel over Ethernet with Cisco Systems’ Unified Computing System and Nexus switches. FlexPod also supports VMware virtualization software.

“We wanted information technology as a service,” says Falzarano. “We were looking for something that would give us the feel of an Amazon cloud, but not be in the public cloud.”

Falzarano says the FlexPod private cloud delivers:

  • Reduced rack space: By using FlexPod, the Walz Group, which had already virtualized some of its servers, improved its density from four virtual machines per hypervisor to 15 VMs per hypervisor. This reduced the amount of rack space it needed by greater than 50 percent.
  • Streamlined maintenance: Under the old infrastructure, the company required more cabling and many more physical servers. Falzarano says a systems administrator could manage only about 15 systems at one time. Now, because the FlexPod cloud requires fewer servers — the majority of which are virtualized — and offers centralized management features, one systems administrator can manage more than 50 systems.
  • Faster, easier provisioning: The IT staff can now provision both virtual servers and storage with little or no downtime to the network.
  • Improved reporting: The FlexPod dashboard issues on-demand reports of the network’s performance.