WECU

WECU builds a modern scalable data center with Cumulus Linux

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Managing the network infrastructure is simpler with Cumulus Linux, because there’s no need for people to have specialized knowledge of proprietary configurations. It’s all based on Linux

Matthew Vreeke, Network Engineer, Whatcom Educational Credit Union

Industry

Financial and Banking

Business Objective

Modern data center with added capacity that is easy to build, manage and scale

Partners

Dell and Puppet Labs

Overview

Founded in 1936, Whatcom Educational Credit Union (WECU) is a fast growing Washington-based not-for-profit financial cooperative that has 11 branches, more than 88,000 members and over 1.4 billion dollars in assets. Serving the Whatcom County community, WECU has seen explosive growth with new business and consumer members.

With a data center refresh on the horizon, WECU was seeking a new solution that would be easily and economically scalable to meet their fast business growth and demands for new online services.

Challenges

Financial applications used by WECU’s front-line staff to support members at their branch locations are critical. Performance of these applications directly impacts the quality of service. However, their aging network infrastructure was unable to keep up with their increasing business and member base. This impacted application performance, making it a primary problem that the WECU IT team needed to solve. Moving to 10G capabilities would address these issues, but being a nonprofit, WECU needed to reduce their TCO.

As they moved towards refreshing their data centers, WECU wanted to implement network virtualization without increasing overall complexity, among other requirements. The goal was to build a modern, scalable network that would address their growing needs.

WECU also wanted to promote increased team collaboration and time to market by adopting DevOps and NetDevOps principles. This would allow WECU to leverage existing tools and knowledge across the stack, unifying the infrastructure and maximizing operator-to-device ratio.

Finally, WECU wanted to avoid getting locked into a proprietary model, so they started looking for a disaggregated, open solution.  

Solution

WECU evaluated multiple options to modernize their data center and add scalable capacity. After considering a range of technology providers, WECU realized that Cumulus Linux with Dell open networking switches would meet their needs for scalability, performance and price.

As a native Linux solution, Cumulus Linux allowed the team to leverage existing skills, knowledge and tools to manage their switches the way they manage their servers. As an automation ready solution, Cumulus Linux’s seamless integration with Puppet allowed the team to configure, manage and consistently scale their network.

WECU decision to implement a 10G solution, using the Cumulus Linux NOS running on Dell Networking S4048-ON switches helped to reduce their OpEx, while also reducing CapEx exponentially by using open optics.


“We were targeting open-networking equipment with Cumulus, and the Dell Networking switches had the best build quality and the lowest latency,” says Jeff Cook, Network Engineer, Whatcom Educational Credit Union. “With Cumulus, we are running all of the features we need, at less than half the cost.”


The main benefits WECU realized from Cumulus Linux and Dell open networking solution included:

  • Scalability: A 10G solution addressed capacity constraints, allowing the WECU IT team to keep up with their rapid growth. Capacity bottlenecks became a thing of the past. Now the team has a much better ability to scale and address their fast growth, with enough headroom to expand well into the future.
  • Modernized data center: By unifying the stack with Linux, WECU could easily port their existing automation (Puppet) and monitoring applications from compute over to networking. This encouraged them to adopt DevOps/NetDevOps principles.

Lower TCO: WECU reduced their CapEx by over 50% by adopting open networking with Cumulus Linux and Dell. Most of the savings came from using open optics. Further savings came from their ability to leverage existing team and tool sets (automation and monitoring) thus allowing WECU to increase their device-to-operator ratio and eliminate the need to purchase any additional tools.

Recap

WECU built a modern, dynamic data center with much-needed capacity to support their business applications. Open networking with Cumulus Linux has equipped the team to better respond to their growing needs while reducing their TCO and keeping the network architecture simple.