Case Study

Usha International innovates its way to The Best of vForum 2011 Award

Mitchelle R Jansen

Virtualization and server consolidation initiatives are far from rare among progressive Indian organizations these days. But while such initiatives are largely restricted

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to non-critical application areas, Usha International — one of India's leading sales, marketing, distribution and manufacturing organizations — took the plunge and successfully virtualized its business-critical SAP add-on modules. This bold initiative won for Usha International the Best of vForum 2011 award for Innovation Excellence. This award was instituted by TechTarget’s SearchDataCenter.in in partnership with VMware.

Usha International wished to virtualize SAP add-on modules such as BI/BO, APO and SCM to enhance business functionality and support its growing business needs. A report of the sales target achieved by the various departments had to be submitted annually. The APO module was to be introduced to deliver a monthly automated internal user reporting system. The SCM module on the other hand was introduced for senior management, as an aid to forecasting and predicting market trends for more effective business strategy decisions.

According to Raghubir Singh, general manager for IT at Usha International, the organization was falling short of data center space and capacity for the integration of these new SAP modules. Investing in 11 additional physical servers would involve heavy costs.

“Server consolidation helped us address this issue successfully as well as achieve an estimated cost saving of Rs. 80 lakh,” says Subodh Dubey, group chief information officer at Usha International.

As part of its server consolidation initiative, Usha International performed detailed analyses of its existing as well as new applications that could be virtualized, along with better resource utilization. The study revealed that the existing resources were underutilized, leading to failure in meeting requirements during peak loads. As a result the maintenance, power and cooling requirements invariably escalated.

Moreover, Usha International’s server room was cluttered with more than 30 IBM iSeries x86 servers running various applications. “The data center could not accommodate the hardware, UPS power and cooling requirements for the growing business needs and server management was becoming unmanageable,” says Singh. Server consolidation helped the organization consolidate the 30 physical servers into six server boxes.

Based on an in-depth evaluation, Usha International settled for VMware vSphere 4.0 Enterprise with vMotion for virtualization and Dell PowerEdge Server with EMC CX4-120 storage [See complete storage and network specifications here.] The company also invested in VMware’s High Availability (HA) and Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) solutions.  Dell was the implementation partner for the server consolidation initiative.

VMware HA and DRS helped Usha International allocate and balance computing resources after server consolidation. This led to several benefits such as substantial growth in availability and performance of IT systems; easy management; centralized backup; and, scalability. Due to server consolidation, Usha International could now manage its infrastructure with reduced power and cooling costs.

VMotion enabled the live migration of running virtual machines from one physical server to another with zero downtime, continuous service availability, and complete transaction integrity. “VMotion helped us create a dynamic, automated and self-optimizing data center,” says Dubey.

Initiative highlights

Server virtualization and consolidation benefited Usha International both at the managerial as well as the IT level. From the management perspective, Usha International achieved optimum utilization of computing resources as well as reduced TCO and real-time response to dynamically changing computing needs. A standardized infrastructure helped the organization simplify server operations and management.

The IT team realized several management-related benefits from this server consolidation initiative. The team could now allocate processors and memory on-demand to accommodate changing workloads. The server footprint reduced from 30 to six. Fewer servers and related IT hardware meant reduced real estate and reduced power and cooling requirements. Better management tools helped Usha International improve the server-to-admin ratio as well.

The number of network adapters and drops also reduced from 54 to 12. Number of SAN adapters and drops reduced as well. Overall there is better utilization of resources now as the unutilized processor and memory resources can be used for additional or new workload to further reduce TCO.

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The Best of vForum 2011 awards were divided into three categories – Innovation Excellence, Outstanding Business Value and IT as a Service Leadership. Get full details on the Best of vForum 2011 awards and acquaint yourself with the other winners in this next section.

The Best of vForum 2011 awards: A roundup >>>