MetLifeNth Generation & HP Provide The Ultimate Adaptive Infrastructure for MetLife
IT investments pay steady dividends for financial services firm
The advice remains sound in boom years and bust: Those who hold fast to a balanced investment program are better positioned to take advantage of future opportunities. The same might be said of organizations adhering to a standard computing platform; MetLife Investors thinks so. The Newport Beach, Calif.-based company is a division of MetLife Inc., a leading provider of insurance and financial services. During its first 12 months in production, MetLife Investors tallied sales of $1.5 billion.
Before the new division could bring its portfolio of variable and fixed annuity products to market in early 2001, it needed to build a solid computing infrastructure - fast. Company leaders entrusted Mike Stansbury with the job, and he summoned the proven capabilities of Nth Generation and HP. "Our challenge was to build an information-technology (IT) infrastructure from the ground up - with a small staff, under extremely dynamic conditions and in a very short time," says Stansbury.
Flexible SAN architecture adapts to volatile IT demands
To get the business going, MetLife Investors began its network operation with two HP ProLiant DL380 servers functioning as an e-mail server and a domain controller. Almost a year later, the network includes more than 130 HP ProLiant servers and two HP StorageWorks storage-area networks (SANs). "We chose HP StorageWorks SANs because they perform well and are easy to configure and support," Stansbury explains. "They enable us to manage our data more effectively and control where the data resides throughout the enterprise. HP StorageWorks systems can quickly adapt to business changes."
Stansbury and his talented staff built, configured and deployed the SANs with assistance from HP reseller Nth Generation. "The SANs are easy to manage with a small staff," Stansbury affirms. "HP Services provides us with HP CarePaq™ Services, including excellent extended warranty service. We get replacement parts easily and the system warranty uplifts are very useful for ongoing investment protection."
Robust computing delivers broad portfolio of options
MetLife Investors hosts several public Web sites for its customers and dozens of intranet applications for its sales and operations workforce. The HP infrastructure currently supports approximately 2,500 internal users, with plans underway to conduct Web transactions with potentially tens of thousands of external clients. Designated for internal usage currently, the extranet sites averaged 360,000 hits per month during the initial pilot rollout. Their internal applications averaged 9.2 million hits per month. The company expects these transactions to increase significantly as new products and features are released.
Mike Stansbury, MetLife Investors' Director of Network Operations
Mature system-management tools bring peace of mind
MetLife Investors uses a host of HP management and backup solutions to ensure its IT systems remain online and in good working order. "We use HP storage-management tools such as HP OpenView™ Virtual Replicator and Enterprise Volume Manager software," Stansbury notes. "These tools enable us to access production data quickly for reports, backups and disaster-recovery exercises - all while maintaining data availability."
To detect trends and balance resources through automated reporting, the IT staff deployed HP OpenView Storage Resource Manager software. Stansbury plans to use the software to predict growth across the storage infrastructure, including the independent servers with direct-attached storage. This will enable the staff to decide whether stand-alone systems should be placed on the SANs.
Thanks to the wealth of HP management utilities, the small support staff at MetLife Investors can maintain amazingly high service levels. HP StorageWorks Command Console enables administrators to configure and monitor storage assets and controllers graphically from a single management console, while HP Insight Manager™ monitoring software alerts them to potential trouble spots with a server or their SAN hardware. MetLife Investors also deployed an HP StorageWorks Enterprise Backup Solution (EBS) running VERITAS Backup Exec software. The StorageWorks EBS solution fosters resource sharing among the storage arrays and servers over a Fibre Channel connection. Stansbury's staff can schedule all backup and restore jobs from a single server, which simplifies management of these activities.
Standard computing infrastructure nets big gains
Stansbury concludes: "HP and Nth Generation enabled us to deploy new systems very quickly - with little cross-training and overhead. HP hardware has proven to be reliable and scalable in our environment and simplifies the management and operations of our IT infrastructure. We are confident our computing platform will provide many opportunities for future scalability and growth."
MetLife Investor's business results: