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International Insurer Centralizes IT Monitoring to Reduce Risk

The Business Challenge

Markel International has offices worldwide, but its two datacenters are located in England. IT is central to Markel’s day-to-day operations because it is the foundation for all insurance risk analysis procedures as well as traditional business systems.

The entire IT infrastructure is virtualized and includes 31 VMware hosts and 550 virtual machines (VMs). In addition to looking after the virtual environment, the IT team supports the company’s web site and 600 employees. When team members ran into issues with the native VMware monitoring process, they began looking for a way to route VMware monitoring through Microsoft System Center to streamline the overall monitoring process.

“Our previous VMware monitoring process wasn’t alerting us to everything, so we had to create additional rules to get that information to avoid risk,” said Mike Jarrett, Service Delivery Manager for Markel. “Our previous process also involved a separate monitoring console, which meant our engineers had one more thing to check, and it required us to install agents on the ESX host. Since we had experienced problems with agents breaking our hosts in the past, we weren’t keen to use a monitoring product that might break our ESX host. Instead, our goal was to streamline and standardize our monitoring process while maintaining the policies built around System Center.”

Markel’s IT team turned to S3 Consulting Ltd, a leader in the virtualization technology space, for a new VMware monitoring and management solution. S3 CEO Chris Bullock recommended the Veeam Management Pack™ (MP) for VMware. “This was an easy recommendation to make because the nworks MP meets each of Markel’s needs,” he explained. “It provides scalable, fault-tolerant and agentless VMware monitoring directly into Operations Manager, eliminating the need for a separate console.” 

The Veeam Solution

The nworks MP integrates fully with both VMware and System Center, and it enables all System Center functionality (alerts, topology diagrams, dashboards, reporting, auditing, notifications, responses and automation) for all VMware components. In addition, the nworks MP provides a detailed VMware health model, including metrics such as memory pressure and disk IOPS that are only available from Veeam. Developed in close cooperation with Microsoft, the nworks MP is also certified “VMware Ready.”

The nworks MP also includes a comprehensive knowledge base that serves as a VMware “expert in a box” and enables Markel’s IT team to resolve problems efficiently. “Each of our engineers fixes a problem the same way because they are working from the same knowledge base,” explained Peter De Voisey, Technical Architect for Markel’s IT team. “And our engineers don’t have to look at separate consoles to get the information they need. All they need is the Operations Manager console, which is a tool they already know very well.”

The nworks MP provides continuous monitoring of the largest, most demanding virtual environments. It features a centrally managed, distributed architecture for horizontal “no limits” scalability and automatic failover and load balancing for high availability. “Our small IT team supports an enterprise that is entirely virtualized, so we need an enterprise-strength VMware monitoring process,” De Voisey said. “That’s exactly what we get with the Veeam nworks MP.”

The Results

Centralized monitoring helps reduce risk
The Veeam nworks MP centralizes IT infrastructure monitoring and management at Markel by bringing VMware monitoring to Microsoft System Center. Performance data is collected in a centralized location – via the Operations Manager console – making it easier for Markel’s engineers to proactively prevent problems and reduce risk.

Mature solution is quick and easy to install and use
The nworks MP has proven itself in deployments worldwide. It’s a scalable, reliable and mature solution that requires very little set-up time and no agents to install. It also helps preserve the IT policies and practices Markel has built around System Center.

Vast knowledge base helps Markel resolve problems more efficiently
The nworks MP has an extensive knowledge base, which is often referred to as a VMware “expert in a box.” It helps Markel engineers resolve problems quickly to minimize impact on the system and users.

Markel International
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Markel International is a subsidiary of Markel Corporation. Based in London and comprising the international operations of Markel Corporation, Markel International wrote gross premiums of $709 million in 2010. It has seven operating divisions and nine overseas offices writing business either through Markel Syndicate 3000 or Markel International Insurance Company Limited. Markel Corporation is a US listed business, capitalized at approximately $4 billion.


Centralize VMware monitoring through Microsoft System Center Operations Manager.


  • Centralized monitoring helps reduce risk
  • Mature solution is quick and easy to install and use
  • Vast knowledge base helps Markel resolve problems more efficiently

About S3 Consulting Ltd:

Headquartered in Milton Keynes, England, S3 Consulting Ltd is a specialist virtualization service provider that offers advice and solutions to companies considering IT infrastructure virtualization. Solutions include virtualization of servers, desktops, networks and storage, as well as specializing in virtualized disaster recovery and backup solutions. S3’s unique approach involves providing a solution tailored to business requirements as opposed to technology for technology’s sake. This drives down costs and de-risks a solution by providing upfront guarantees. To find out more and discover what existing S3 Consulting customers have to say, e-mail, call 0845 686 0530 or visit S3 at
Markel International
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