Ministry of Communication - Hardware and Virtualization Solution
INTERCOM PROGRAMMING AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY LIMITED (IPMC)
Report Date: 23rd Sep, 2011
Ministry of Communication Organizational Profile
The Ministry of Communications was created out of the former Ministry of Transport & Communications in response to local and global developments in Information Technology industry. The purpose was to enable government develop policies that will help integrate information technologies into the activities of the society and also harness the full potential for effective development.
The vision of the Ministry of Communications was to manage the convergence of communications and technologies to promote a viable integrated national development process within a global setting.
1.1 Initial Situation
The previous Data Center infrastructure had high costs. It consisted of Multiple Physical Machines for each application, all from different hardware manufactures from different generations. As a result, Ministry of Communication Ghana had to maintain a huge and expensive stock of consumables. Additionally, approximately 15 physical servers were consuming huge amounts of power and were becoming hard to manage from a single console. The hardware therefore needed an upgrade as the load on the Servers was increasing and applications such as Microsoft Exchange 2010, Microsoft Office Communicator, and Active Directory also needed an upgrade.
Ministry of Communications Ghana wanted to have a virtualized infrastructure and make new technology and function enhancements readily available to the users. The aim was to decrease the Annual cost by at least 25% and to have less physical machines in order to bring down their power costs. Ministry of Communication wanted to monitor the entire Server from a single console and the VMware vSphere Hypervisor was the simplest and easiest way to get started with virtualization for free. This fully functional hypervisor lets you virtualize your servers and run your applications in virtual machines in a matter of minutes. vSphere Hypervisor is based on VMware ESXi, the hypervisor architecture that sets the industry standard for reliability, performance, and ecosystem support. It consolidates your applications onto fewer servers and start saving you money through reduced hardware, power, cooling, and administration costs.
IPMC provided a solution HP BLc 7000 Blade Enclosure containing 11 HP BL460G6 Servers and one HP Left hand Storage with ESXi to match the need of Ministry of Communication Ghana. The physical running Servers were migrated to the virtual environment using VMware converter. The VMware Converter solution gave administrators a flexible and secure way to convert a physical machine into a virtual one with minimized downtime. VMware vCenter Server solution provides a scalable and extensible platform that forms the foundation for virtualization management. VMware vCenter Server, formerly VMware Virtual Center, centrally manages VMware environments allowing IT administrators dramatically improve control over the virtual environment compared to other management platforms. VMware vCenter Server:
• Provides centralized control and visibility at every level of virtual infrastructure
• Unlocks the power of vSphere through proactive management
• Is a scalable and extensible management platform with a broad partner ecosystem
By using the ESXi, Ministry of Communication’s applications operated smoothly. If any physical server requires maintenance is needed, all what is required is to move the virtual server on other physical server. The Ministry of Finance HP Blade server infrastructure and ESXi Virtualization Solution were fully installed and managed by IPMC. The consumable delivery and replacement as well as the maintenance were carried out by IPMC.
Ministry of Communication can now get automated in-depth reports of use of Processor, Memory, Storage, and also a Map of the Datacenter Connectivity by using Vcenter Server.
The Organization has a modern, virtualized and stable Data Center that offers numerous new functions, such as V-motion (move any virtual server from one to another physical server) and DRS (automated managing the resources of the physical Server). The administrator can also now manage the all the virtual servers from single console using the Vcenter Server application.
Furthermore, Ministry of Communication has achieved decreased downtimes by using the V-motion high availability feature. They have reduced hardware and operating costs, Improved reliability with business continuity, reduced the time it takes to provision a new server, and deliver IT services on-demand presently and in the future, independent of hardware, OS, and application.
The estimated TCO is calculated to be reduced by 25%. This estimation includes lower power consumption and little to no physical machines required for a minimum of two years.
1.6 Project Steps
The initial project started December in 2010 with an inventory and the definition of the specifications, followed by a tender, won by IPMC.
Ministry of Communication functions differently than other organizations. They had special requirements and lots of applications, which had to be tested with the VMware ESXi first. Ministry of Communication had to migrate their physical servers into the Virtual Servers and that test had been done by IPMC its own Virtual Lab before implementing it onto the Production Environment. Since Ministry of Communication had to upgrade their Data Center with more applications like CRM, Microsoft SharePoint, and Microsoft Lync Server etc, IPMC verified the hardware resource requirements for these applications as well.
Redundancy and Load Balancing
Ministry of Communication is a service organization; the whole infrastructure must be available all the times.
To achieve redundancy, IPMC created a VMware cluster containing 4 by 4 physical servers, so that if any of the physical servers go down, the virtual server will move on to the another physical server automatically. For further redundancy on the hardware side, IPMC used two network switches providing the two uplink to Servers and six power supplies.
Many steps had to run simultaneously to ensure that everything would work perfectly when the solution was rolled out.
A training program was designed and given to the IT staff. The IT staff then trained their colleagues on the same material. Additionally every HP Server was equipped with a user guide and Service Guide CD.
The Solution in a Nutshell:
• Primary applications: ESXi
• Hardware: Total of 11 HP BL460c Servers and one HP 4000 Left hand Storage.
• Software: VMware Vcenter Server
• Services: VMware support pack, HP Hardware Support Pack