This article was first published in the Summer 2015 issue of OnWindows
Ameco Beijing, a joint venture between Air China and Lufthansa German Airlines, gained a reliable end-to-end solution provider when it started working with Dell. The relationship got off to a great start when Dell Global Infrastructure Consulting Services (GICS) migrated the company’s SAP ERP system from a RISC solution to a Linux-based Dell end-to-end platform. The project was a success. The switch brought about a 46% drop in total cost of ownership (TCO), 99.99% uptime and a 3.5 times increase in the responsiveness of the SAP system.
With the Dell platform in place and the SAP solution fully migrated, the Ameco Beijing IT team soon began to organise a series of additional key IT projects. This included the expansion of the Compellent solution supporting SAP with additional controllers. Plus, work on the final phase of a virtualisation program saw the staged migration of administrative systems as well as the Ameco Aircraft Maintenance Information System over to a Microsoft Hyper-V platform.
Ameco Beijing expanded the Dell Compellent environment supporting the x86-based SAP infrastructure with two Dell Compellent storage arrays. One of the arrays sits in the production environment and supports ten 400GB solid-state drives (SSDs) and ten 300GB 15K SAS drives. The second storage array is located at the disaster recovery site and contains ten 400GB SSDs.
With the storage expanded, the Ameco Beijing IT team shifted its focus to the continuing server virtualisation program. The company had gradually virtualised the environment supporting applications such as Ameco Aircraft Maintenance Information System, Microsoft SharePoint Server and multiple desktop applications.
Now was the final stage in the programme, and the Ameco Beijing IT team worked again with Dell to complete the project. Together, they migrated the remaining applications from Dell PowerEdge rack servers to two virtualised Dell PowerEdge M620 blades, running Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V, which today support around 90 virtual machines. The blades are located in a Dell PowerEdge M1000e modular blade enclosure and form part of an end-to-end Dell solution. The blade servers operate alongside a combination of Dell Compellent storage arrays with dual controllers, fibre channel connections, and up to 30 terabytes (TBs) of capacity. Furthermore, the environment also contains Dell Networking MXL 10 Gigabit Ethernet and M6348 switches for a fully integrated Dell infrastructure.
The MXL switches can provide high performance and high-efficiency transmission flow for local exchanges within the chassis for the virtualisation workloads, thereby reducing TCO. Finally, a Dell PowerVault TL4000 tape library completes the architecture. Gan Desheng, manager of the information management subdivision at Ameco Beijing, says: “It’s been a steady process, supported along the way by Dell. Now that it’s finished, we can see some very clear business benefits from virtualisation.”
As a result of fully virtualising its administrative systems, Ameco Beijing has nearly halved costs for this environment. The organisation can scale the infrastructure supporting email and desktop applications without the constant need for more physical servers. “We calculated that we could lower capital costs between 40% and 50% by switching to a virtualised environment with Dell. This is good news for the business and IT – helping us align our infrastructure with the company-wide goal of greater efficiency,” comments Desheng. He adds that the tiering functionality in the Dell Compellent storage also cuts costs. “The automated tiering in Dell Compellent effectively lowers the number of SSDs that we need to buy, thereby saving resources,” he says. In the case of the Dell Compellent environment supporting the SAP solution, the company has seen important savings.
Desheng explains: “Currently, disk use is just 15% on the SSDs and 85% on the slower SAS drives, which are now the bulk of our purchases.” He says that before data tiering, the company bought far more SSDs, and that Ameco Beijing has saved around US$70,000 (440,000 RMB) since 2013 by switching purchases to SAS.
As with capital costs, operating costs have also been reduced. Desheng says the environment is now easier to manage and involves less manual work with more administrative tasks now automated.
“We estimate that management savings are in the region of 60% because of virtualization,” he comments. Desheng is particularly pleased with the management savings from Dell Compellent. He says, “We spent an average of one to two hours per week on storage and management. Now with our Compellent storage solution, we spend less than two hours each quarter.” Furthermore, he believes easier management has helped Ameco Beijing avoid the cost of additional IT personnel.
The IT team is also pleased with the virtualised environment’s availability. Today it’s delivering 99.99% uptime, and Desheng expects the performance to continue through the performance of the equipment and the services support of Dell.
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