REDMOND, Wash. — April 20, 2009 — Kroll Factual Data was able to create a private cloud computing environment to meet stringent customer requirements while it helped reduce costs and energy consumption for its datacenter, Microsoft Corp. announced. Kroll Factual Data was able to create this dynamic datacenter through a combination of virtualization, services-based management tools, and scalable applications and application development tools from Microsoft.
Kroll Factual Data is an information services company, a leading provider of business information to mortgage lenders, consumer lenders, property management firms and other businesses to help them make informed decisions. Kroll Factual Data has experienced tremendous growth during the past five years, primarily through the acquisition of 58 companies. Most recently, in response to changing capital markets, Kroll Factual Data has expanded its products to include a broader array of information on loan applicants so that they can help financial institutions fund accurate, high-quality loans, and ultimately reduce losses due to fraud.
“Our customers’ needs change on a fairly rapid basis. In the mortgage industry, a small change in the interest rates can cause a wild fluctuation in transaction volume. With the sea-changes going on in the financial industry, and policies changing almost daily, we need to be able to react immediately,” said Russ Donnan, chief information officer, Kroll Factual Data. “At Kroll Factual Data, technology is the business. We’re now able to develop, test and deploy new products within three days, and our datacenter has the ability to deploy additional computing resources in less than 15 minutes.”
Increasingly, companies that want the benefits of cloud computing but aren’t willing to outsource are creating cloud-like environments in their own datacenters, something called private clouds. Kroll Factual Data deployed Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V technology and Microsoft System Center so that it could manage a datacenter that is 85 percent virtualized, and consolidate its physical server holdings from 650 systems to 22 systems, each server running 30 virtual machines. This level of virtualization, along with Kroll Factual Data’s move to 100 percent wind-generated power for the entire facility, has helped lead to 89 percent energy savings across the board. Kroll Factual Data supplemented its nimble IT infrastructure by using Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Visual Studio development system to create custom line-of-business applications. Kroll Factual Data manages the application life cycle from development, where the applications are tested in virtual machines, to customer-facing products using Microsoft infrastructure software and application development platform.
“We adopted the Microsoft virtualization solution for many reasons, including flexibility, scalability and stability,” Donnan said. “With a datacenter that is 85 percent virtualized, it becomes critical to manage all our systems and applications, be it physical or virtual, from a central location. System Center management tools provide us with a high degree of confidence that our applications will be deployed right the first time.”
Kroll Factual Data also has streamlined and strengthened its business continuity plan. Kroll Factual Data uses Microsoft System Center to monitor its servers and to deploy, optimize and manage its virtual machines. In the event of a service interruption, the IT staff simply copies production virtual machines from one physical server to another. The firm maintains a golden image of its production applications at its disaster-recovery location, so there is no interruption to the business.
“We’re required to provide 100 percent availability not only to our customer-facing products, but also to the operations inside our facility,” Donnan said. “Converting our disaster recovery environment into a production environment is as simple as using System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 to copy files to a standby host and activating them. This saves us time and enables us to maintain uninterrupted service to our customers.”
“We’re focused on helping customers meet today’s challenges by delivering superior value in our products, and offering a unique approach to empower customers to drive business agility,” said Zane Adam, senior director of virtualization and management at Microsoft. “We’re helping innovative companies like Kroll Factual Data transition to private cloud computing environments by providing them with the required combination of virtualization, service-oriented management systems, and a scale-out application model.”
More information on how to begin cutting costs, including the Kroll Factual Data case study, can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/infrastructure/casestudies/casestudy.mspx. More information on how Microsoft’s server virtualization solution is approximately one-third of the cost of VMware is available at http://www.microsoft.com/virtualization/why/roi/default.mspx.*
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
* Based on a comparison of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise with Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center Server Management Suite Enterprise with VMware Inc.’s VMware Infrastructure Enterprise with VMware vCenter Server. Includes two years support costs for both. Based on Microsoft estimated retail prices and published VMware prices available at https://www.vmware.com/vmwarestore as of Feb. 4, 2009. Actual reseller prices may vary.
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