Thompson Reuters: Storage savings will pay for server virtualisation

Christopher Crowhurst chief architect of Thomson Reuters explains the financial information provider's massive virtualisation initiative.


Financial information provider Thompson Reuters has a massive IT operation. The company, which employees 50,000 people in 91 countries, has 20,000 servers and has been growing its 6.5 petabytes of data storage capacity 40% to 50% annually and its datacentre power consumption by 20% a year.

The company was looking at building a new datacentre every two and a half years to keep up with growth.

Christopher Crowhurst, Thomson Reuters's vice president and chief architect of Architecture & Business Systems Infrastructure, said the company came up with a plan to double data storage utilisation from 30% now to 60%.

It is using virtualisation and thin provisioning technology from NetApp, and to use the capital expenditure savings from that project to fund a server virtualisation project using VMware aimed at transitioning roughly one-third, or 7,500, of the company's servers to virtual machines.

Crowhurst spoke to's US sister title about the project. The following are excerpts from that interview.

How much are your datacentres growing?

Over the past five years, we've had 780% growth in storage, 450% growth in servers and 350% growth in power consumption. We're trying to bring down the power consumption growth rate to an annual rate of 13%.

How are you going to do that?

When you do all this consolidation work, in effect you're recovering megawatts through the virtualisation of existing assets. Then, over the next 2 years, we'll also be avoiding a megawatt of power growth through virtualisation of growth assets [future server purchases]. The net effect of this project is that within 30 to 36 months, we will have saved a year's worth of growth.

How far are you with the virtualisation project?

The conversion of physical servers to virtual is due to run until the end of next year. We're currently running at 140% of plan, so we're going to complete early. We're going to keep the project going, though. Because the project is funded by the storage optimisation, as long as we're recovering capital from that, we can continue to virtualise our server environment.

The reality is that the project will never end because the growth side of our technology platforms will continue to drive virtualisation. I think what we'll eventually start doing is extend this into a private cloud and move to do some self-provisioning for our business units as we get more confident with the management tools in these virtual environments.

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