Mantra virtualises for business agility

Facing significant, rapid business expansion, corporate and leisure accommodation provider Mantra Group, revitialised its IT systems and delivered flexibility to the business.

Mantra Group selected a Cisco and NetApp FlexPod for VMware solution to help it create a scalable and flexible data centre virtualisation platform that combines networking, computing, storage and server virtualisation and aligns with its evolving business requirements.

Mantra Group pursued a strategic growth strategy that added over a hundred new properties in a three year period through the acquisition of nine hotel groups making them the second largest accommodation operator in Australia with property in every capital city and major holiday destination in Australia and New Zealand. Often, the mantra IT team had only five days' notice of an acquisition due to the confidentiality of some transactions.

However, Mantra's existing infrastructure had hit some hard limits. Space for servers was becoming scarce in their data centre and expansion was limited by the ability to access more electricity.

To support this strategy for aggressive growth, Mantra Group required a highly adaptable and scalable infrastructure stack. FlexPod, allowed Mantra to rapidly integrate differentiating technology from acquisitions, quickly virtualise key applications and then make the services accessible to the rest of the organisation via a private cloud. All of this was achieved with a small IT team of just 35 people.

"We selected Cisco, NetApp and VMware to help us maintain our flexible and nimble approach to providing streamlined and low cost IT systems for maximised business revenue. The FlexPod solution has delivered as promised the infrastructure scalability, a lower-cost operating model, and speed in the deployment of new services - all while allowing us to achieve our power conservation objectives" said Garry Rich, Group General Manager for IT, Mantra Group.

Rich told us that he expected a 60% power reduction as a result of this new platform. He also saw a 50% reduction in capital spending and a substantial reduction in operating costs.

The Mantra Group's selection of Alphawest to deploy a private cloud with FlexPod for VMware built on the Cisco Unified Computing System, Cisco Nexus switches, NetApp FAS3210 unified storage system and VMware virtualisation and cloud infrastructure. The key was to deliver four key benefits:

Agility for rapid response to changing business and market demands

Mantra IT needed to consolidate, unify and virtualise more than ninety physical servers, ten storage devices, and dozens of legacy systems with VMware vSphere across the FlexPod solution with minimal disruption to the business. The result was an 80% reduction in physical servers required for core applications.

Identifying a strong consumer shift to online room reservations early on, a key strategy for Mantra IT was to take advantage of its virtualised pool of resources to quickly scale up and implement an online reservation system that provides a web experience for prospective guests and competitive advantage for hotel operators through improved access to reservation information and promotion of room availability into a wider number of wholesale and retail channels.

Speedy deployment of services and time-to-value

The dynamic provisioning and scale out capabilities of FlexPod allowed Mantra IT to consolidate its central reservations system to the FlexPod private cloud in less than five with zero-downtime, allowing the business to continue operations throughout the migration.

Expand green agenda from hotel room to the data centre

Mantra has been recognised for its continued commitment to corporate social responsibility with a strong focus on environmental sustainability. The Mantra Group has reduced its physical servers in production from 90 to just 24 and as a result expects to reduce carbon emission by 60%.

Eliminate complexity and achieve operational efficiencies

While the data centre infrastructure increased in scale and complexity through the acquisitions the size of the Mantra IT staff did not grow. The pre-tested architectural design enabled Mantra IT and its partner Alphawest to implement the solution in ten days. The automation capabilities of Cisco UCS also enabled the IT organisation to be more proactive and spend more time focused on strategic initiatives and less time on maintenance and routine tasks.

Alphawest worked with Mantra Group to implement the solution - one of the first deployments of end-to-end Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). "As Alphawest maintains expertise across all three vendors involved, we were able to offer Mantra Group a single point of contact to build a solution that includes future scalability and redundancy on a single unified platform" said Ian Smith, CEO, Alphawest.

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