One of the largest Polish producers of food products was forced to upgrade its IT infrastructure. The company’s infrastructure has been used for many years, resulting in every-increasing maintenance costs and higher risk of failure. This posed a serious risk to the continuity of data processing, directly affecting the operation of the entire plant. The IT infrastructure in place was used to control production machines, operate the critical systems designed to collect qualitative data on manufactured products and supervise the automatic operation of the product distribution system. The company decided to hold talks with various companies to select a system integrator that would design and create the entire IT infrastructure from scratch in a comprehensive way. The new environment is expected to meet applicable requirements and enable further dynamic growth.
Aim of the project
The Client ordered the creation of a new IT infrastructure meeting the following parameters: high performance, easy to manage, designed to meet high safety requirements and ensure that current maintenance costs are kept within the agreed limits throughout its entire lifetime. Another issue was to ensure the comprehensive project implementation involving the supply and implementation of the designed solution and the establishment of a single point of contact to tackle maintenance issues.
To meet high Client requirements, we’ve decided to create a simple solution made up of a small number of tested and reliable components which simplifies the management process and reduces the number of potential causes of failure. The hardware layer of this solution is provided by HPE’s products: rack servers, the disk array and Ethernet network switches. Its application layer is based on the products from a leading virtualization company (VMware) and CommVault – a supplier of reliable security backup solutions.
Thanks to the use of virtualization technology and HA (High Availablity) clustering, a highly available server platform was established as a basis for the critical systems within the Client’s environment. Another advantage of using this virtualization solution was the ability to use the technology involving the migration of critical systems on-the-fly (online) without the need to stop the application or account for production downtime.
A disk array for data transmission through iSCSI was used as a data storage platform. The disk space of the disk array was made up of SAS 10K RPM hard drives secured using the RAID technology, which is resistant to the simultaneous failure of two hard drives.
To ensure the optimal bandwidth and eliminate potential bottlenecks between all the elements making up the solution (server platform, data storage platform, production IT infrastructure), a new Ethernet network was built on the basis of 10GbEthernet switches (10GBASE-T). The switches were connected into a single IRF domain designed to provide uninterrupted network and service availability, even in the event of failure of the entire network switch. Once the remaining infrastructure components (servers, disk array) were provided with 10GbE interfaces, each of these devices could be used to its full capacity. To ensure high levels of safety and performance, all network traffic was separated according to its intended use (production, data, management), in line with relevant good practices and experience.
To ensure the level of data security required by the Client, a backup system was put in place using the proven CommVault solution. A server fitted with high-capacity hard drives, operating independently of the other environment elements, was used as a hardware platform and a backup storage repository. This server, when combined with space optimisation mechanisms (deduplication and on-the-fly compression) of the CommVault solution, enabled users to store backup copies for long retention periods. Once the server platform of the backup system had been provided with 10GbEthernet interfaces and the process of data deduplication at the source initiated, the time needed to carry out full backup of IT environment was reduced four times. Backup copies were provided for all critical Client systems, including databases, virtual environment and workstations. Another information security measure involved the use of the CommVault Privacy module which enables data encryption through AES 256, while restricting data access to authorised personnel only.
The Client’s major objective for this project was to create a modern IT infrastructure that would meet current needs and provide adequate resource reserve to enable further company growth at the current rate. All of the project requirements have been met, as confirmed by independent tests performed by the IT department staff of the Client.
Among the most satisfying project results, the Client listed the following benefits:
creating a highly available virtualization platform and being able to directly benefit from its numerous features. Prior to implementation, the Client would only use physical servers operating to outdated specification parameters. Due to failures of physical server components, the Client experienced downtime at work at an unacceptable level.
building a modern, highly available LAN network with 10GbE switching solutions, enabling the transfer of large amounts of data with a small delay. The existing LAN network often became a “bottleneck” in data processing, resulting in the unstable operation of production management systems.
deploying a high performance storage array for data transmission using iSCSI with 10GbE interfaces, using the RAID technology and allowing the use of redundant hardware components, while ensuring uninterrupted access to data. The previous method of data storage involved the transmission of data through CIFS/NFS from low-performing servers incapable of providing the necessary redundancy/reliability.
creating a modern, fully automated backup system allowing reduction of the time needed to make a full copy of the environment by four times. The previous method of backup copy creation was based on two obsolete products designed for independent use and required frequent inspections as well as manual interventions from IT staff. In addition, the time previously needed to make a full backup was unacceptable, and the lack of encryption and authorisation mechanisms put the company at risk of confidential data leakage.
simple management of the entire environment By using a small number of components and a simple configuration, we managed to successfully address the issue of complex management of IT environment. This has given the IT department staff more time for such priority work as development and improvement of automation and information processing procedures.
setting up a single point of contact to tackle maintenance issues and provide consultation services for the solution as a whole. The current situation with almost every element of the environment being serviced by a different company was very inconvenient and ineffective. Currently, the Client has one point of contact with the partner (ADT) who examines any problem from a wider perspective of the entire environment, rather than being limited to one of its many parts (the technology supplied).
Servers: HPE DL360 Gen9
Storage array: HPE MSA 1040
10GbEthernet switches: HPE FlexFabric 5700
Virtualization platform: VMware vSphere 6
Backup system: CommVault Simpana v10