Auction house Bonham's chooses Red Hat virtualisation to support disaster recovery plans

Bonhams Auction House has saved 40 percent on licensing costs by choosing Red Hat’s open source KVM hypervisor technology over VMware as part of its server consolidation and disaster recovery project.


Bonham’s Auction House has saved on licensing and support costs by choosing Red Hat’s open source KVM hypervisor technology as part of its server consolidation and disaster recovery project.

The 200-year old auction house's business spans London, Paris, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, selling thousands of antique goods often valued at millions of pounds. With many buyers placing bids online, Bonham's requires high levels of availabilty of its IT systems, and the ability to switch between data centres should a failure occur.

In order to reduce the time it took to bring its mission critical systems back online in the event of an outage, the mid-sized company recently embarked on a project to improve its disaster recovery and backup capabilities.

To achieve this goal, Bonham's needed to overhaul its legacy infrastructure, bringing in IBM partner Quru to lead on a project to reduce its server count by 75 percent. This involved replacing 34 legacy physical servers in its New York and San Francisco data centres with eight IBM System x3650 class servers.

The service provider, which specialises in open source projects, also helped put in place a Linux-based KVM hypervisor environment, implementing Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation (RHEV) version 3.1. The auction house is also in the process of switching its virtualised environment in its London data centre over from VMware's vSphere to Red Hat software.

Bonham’s is also using Acronis’ Backup & Recovery software to support the new infrastructure, allowing IT staff to backup data from separate locations.  The software has helped significantly reduce the time taken to bring its operations back online should the worst happen.

“We have limited technical staff in the US, so we needed something that could be managed from another location,” said Simon Chiu, Bonhams’ senior systems engineer in San Francisco.

“Using Acronis, we are able to take live snapshots of our virtual machines and back them up at either site and synchronise those backup files to each data centre. So, in the event of a catastrophic failure at either site, we can quickly restore the virtual machine from the most recent backup, and all services will be up and running within hours instead of days.”

Quru CEO Roland Whitehead, claimed that the hypervisor project has enabled Bonham's to make significant savings by choosing a non-proprietary hypervisor over Vmware's vSphere technology.

“We migrated Bonhams over to open source software for the foundation of the upgrade and to standardise diverse platforms,”said Whitehead. "This dramatically reduced licensing costs and enabled new disaster recover capabilities that would have been prohibitively expensive on proprietary systems.”

He added: “The solution would have been 40 percent more expensive had Bonhams used a VMware-based approach, based on licensing costs and ongoing support."

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