Brocade, The Stargate Group, Australia’s leading application service provider (ASP) to the mortgage finance sector, has taken its first step toward applying software-defined networking (SDN) to its operations with the deployment of Brocade® NetIron CER 2000 Ethernet/MPLS routers. Implemented by Brocade partner, Mycom, the new routers are the foundation of a network that handles all traffic to and from more than 2,000 mortgage brokers across the country, enabling Stargate to boost service resiliency, delivery capacity and overall network performance by 40 percent while reducing operational costs.
With a successful 40-year heritage, the Stargate Group is the most awarded and respected supplier of IT solutions in the Australian mortgage services industry. Today it is providing leading-edge technology and mortgage solutions to Aggregators, Brokers and Lenders specializing in Loan Processing and Customer Management Platforms (SymmetryCRM®) and Point of Sale mobility solutions across multiple operating systems (eFind®, eFind Retail(tm) and MortgageFinder®). It is also renowned for its constant Mortgage Solutions innovation and has helped clients process in excess of $500 billion dollars in loan applications.
“This new network has been designed to better manage our new range of mobile apps and a more powerful customer relationship management system,” said Unal Altay, general manager – Service and Support for the Stargate Group. “This can be described as a critical upgrade as we were looking for much more increased network functionality to capture more data in real time and interact with our third parties in a manner that better suits their business models.”
Altay said that Stargate’s biggest technology change in recent years has been the move toward virtualization. While the company now runs approximately 200 virtual machines, there is more to do on the network infrastructure in terms of enabling a true cloud computing model. With the launch of its MortgageFinder® mobile app and its early success, Stargate plans to “amplify” more of its services, which inevitably will result in more network traffic as end users access information and applications more frequently and for longer periods online.
The network has played a vital role in helping the company overcome the limitations of the previous-generation routing platform, which could not support the capacity and performance requirements — or accommodate the Internet’s ever-growing Border Gateway Protocol routing table. As well as having more capacity to scale its services, Stargate also wanted to increase service resiliency to uphold its service level agreements and streamline the network to reduce operational costs.
“After a highly competitive tender, we decided on the Brocade NetIron CER 2000 Series for a number of reasons. Our previous experience with the solutions has been very good — they never seem to fail — and they were 20 percent less expensive than the solution offered by another vendor. Perhaps most significantly, however, was the support from Mycom, the system integrator, who really understood our need for high service resiliency and could strategize on how we can move forward with software-defined networking.”
The Brocade networking solution includes multiple routers deployed at Stargate’s two data center sites and headquarters. The sites are linked over a Gigabit Ethernet mesh and also connected to two different ISPs, giving Stargate Internet route redundancy. Stargate is running Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) across its router mesh to increase network resiliency, load-balance its data centers and also mirror transactions between the sites.
At each data center two routers form a high-availability cluster using the Brocade Multi-Chassis Trunking (MCT) feature to create a single logical device that dynamically load-balances traffic. Each router is connected to both data center firewalls, eliminating any single point of failure. The routers themselves are highly reliable devices built to carrier-grade specifications with redundant hot-swappable power supplies and redundant fans.
“As an application service provider, it is obviously critical to Stargate that its online services are available at all times,” said Greig Guy, Brocade country manager for Australia and New Zealand. “Our partner, Mycom, designed a very elegant solution that simplifies the Stargate routing infrastructure while increasing network resiliency to make it virtually failsafe. We are also now engaging with Stargate on how to move ahead with SDN, which will bring major data center operational benefits.”
The Brocade NetIron CER 2000 Series enables SDN by supporting the OpenFlow protocol, which allows direct access to and manipulation of the forwarding plane from an SDN controller. As a next stage, Stargate is currently evaluating the Brocade Virtual ADX Application Delivery Platform, which enables an on-demand service delivery model and extends application delivery service as an “elastic” network component.