Northwestern Mutual, Dell Partner in IT Mod

Northwestern Mutual has partnered with Dell Technologies to modernize its infrastructure for improved performance, enhanced integration, sustainability, and lower costs.

According to the financial services company, migrating its data and workloads from older and aging systems has reduced time and resource usage by 50 percent, and cut customer response time from weeks to only days or hours.

Northwestern Mutual is a 167-year-old, Fortune 500 company. Over the years, the firm has experienced significant IT infrastructure sprawl across its data centers. It amassed racks of hardware and software from a cross-section of vendors — and this was creating inefficiencies and unacceptable expenses.

“To overcome this, we partnered with Dell Technologies,” said Adel Bekhiet, senior director of infrastructure and cloud services at Northwestern Mutual. “Our goals were to simplify and standardize our IT infrastructure. Dell Technologies helps in all phases of the process — from assessment and scoping to implementation.”

Northwestern Mutual is on an innovation journey and the firm expects modernization to accelerate going forward, thanks to its multicloud strategy. The firm has deployed pods of infrastructure on-premises consisting of Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell PowerMax storage.

“Dell PowerEdge and Dell PowerMax together deliver exceptional performance and efficiency,” Bekhiet said. “PowerMax alone improved our performance by up to 40%. In addition, PowerEdge provides us with significant cost savings on power and cooling. For us, this translates into sustainability and a higher return on our investment.”

With PowerEdge’s high density and smaller form factor, Northwestern Mutual has consolidated its overall footprint by approximately 35 percent, and decreasing its server count to around 300, from the previous figure of 460.

Northwestern Mutual relies on a virtualized environment supported by Dell’s VMware vSphere. VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail enables the firm’s IT staff to efficiently manage virtual customer desktop needs for various workloads, delivering cloud benefits for solutions such as its VMware Horizon-based virtual desktop infrastructure for the firm’s remote users.

“We had an aging desktop environment,” Bekhiet said. “VMware’s tight integration with both PowerEdge and PowerMax let us hit the ground running — reducing our time and resource usage by about 50% in migrating our data and workloads from older and aging systems.”

He continued, “It used to take weeks to meet customer requests. With the integration of PowerEdge and PowerMax, we’re able to reduce that to days or even hours in many cases.”

Northwestern Mutual also highlighted that partnering with Dell to modernize its IT infrastructure has increased storage performance 40 percent over previous systems while supporting around 80 percent of the firm’s main infrastructure, including middleware, web applications, and databases.

“There’s a level of synergy in how we engage with the Dell Technologies team,” Bekhiet concluded. “We have a true strategic partnership. Dell plays a key role in every phase of our innovation and modernization journey.”