Data center excellence: Essar reaps benefits of key implementations

By : |May 20, 2014 0

Essar is a multinational corporation with annual revenues of US$39 billion and investments in Steel, Energy, Infrastructure and Services. With operations in more than 25 countries, it employs over 73,000 people.

Key implementations

  • WAN Optimization project
  • Oracle Database 11g – Landscape upgrade
  • Desktop Virtualization (VDI)
  • Server Virtualization

Post implemetation

WAN Optimization project:

Within Essar, number of branches and number of Business applications are increasing day by day. The prime requirement from the business is faster Data transfer and higher throughput with low latency. The prime requirement from the business is faster Data transfer and higher throughput with low latency.

Essar’s Wide Area Network (WAN) is the foundation of its globally connected enterprise, enabling collaboration, communication, business productivity, and risk mitigation. The performance of its WAN is critical to everything customers do. Previously, the solution to fulfil this aim was adding more WAN bandwidth. But the cost of adding more WAN bandwidth is often significantly higher than the cost of deploying WAN optimization. Aside from a dramatic increase in recurring bandwidth expenditures, routers and other network equipment may have to be added or upgraded. Essar wanted to provide a solution / to take initiative in terms of WAN Optimization which would provide the utmost utilization of available bandwidth of WAN links for business critical applications with improved data transfer times, its business runs faster and more efficiently, delivering consistent service levels and cutting the costs of their IT infrastructure.

Oracle Database 11g – Landscape upgrade

The inherent need for flexibility and inter-changeability in the business environment has prompted the SAP Basis Project Team to go for the Oracle 11g upgrade (from Oracle 10g to 11g) that improve business visibility, process optimization, resource utilization, productivity, cost reductions and ultimately deliver higher profit margins.

Desktop Virtualization:

Essar Group has been growing at a rapid pace and with growth the IT scenario has become more multifaceted and the expectations from IT have also changed from a support service to a business enabler. With growth and diversity, following business problems were identified leading to the deployment of this project:-

– Remote location
o Little IT Skills locally
– Distributed workforce
o Guest workers and telecommuters
o Off-shoring and outsourcing of business functions
– Complex hardware management
o Multiple makes and models


To cater to the ever increasing demand of Business, IT governance, Licensing norms, etc there was a need felt for consolidating all the user’s systems and applications in one single place making the Datacenter team’s task simpler and easier.

i) Patching OS, reimaging systems, resolving corruptions is faster than in normal environment
ii) Application rollout and provisioning in seconds
iii) Centralized and regular Data recovery, archiving, purging, backup is happening
iv) Enhances IT security providing information access to employees, contractors and customers without the fear of compromising on security

Server Virtualization:

Over the years, businesses have had to add more and more servers. Not only do core business requirements need to be serviced, but various other obligations have to be dealt with. Remote locations full of replica servers, applications to assist with regulatory compliance, and the ever-evolving growth in IT service opportunities have added even more servers into the bulging computer room. Physical servers is somewhere between 7% and 15%. Each of those under-utilized servers has acquisition, rack space, networking, power, licensing, maintenance and cooling costs. That means the typical organization wastes between 85% and 93% of its Server infrastructure investment, not to mention the recurring costs of ownership over the lifetime of those servers.

There was an urgent need to upgrade its server infrastructure in order to increase availability and resilience, and to simplify management and reduce costs. Additionally, it needed to reduce its energy consumption.


WAN Optimization project:
As a WAN Optimization Solution we have identified two options:
Riverbed SHA based WAN Optimization
Cisco WAAS Appliance based WAN Optimization.
We have chosen the solution of Riverbed WAN Optimization Solution based on the POC results carried out on site as well as the data collected from the market.

In the Riverbed POC, Riverbed SHAs were installed at Hazira, Mahalaxmi and Algoma for 3 months. We have also installed Riverbed MC for the BW optimization of branch location users and Internet users connecting via VPN.

Oracle Database 11g – Landscape upgrade
Key Value Proposition of Oracle 11g

– In upgrading a database, the business value created by new features is often the primary justification for an upgrade. Here are some of Oracle Database 11g enhancements and the value that they can bring to an organization.

– New Change Assurance Capabilities
– The pressure for businesses to move faster and manage change is a constant. System changes such as hardware/software upgrades and patch applications are essential for businesses to maintain a competitive edge. All businesses must deal with them. Even though these changes are designed to have a positive impact on the infrastructure, they can lead to unexpected and undesirable behaviour. As a result, businesses spend significant time and effort evaluating system changes in test environments to assess their full impact before introducing them in their production systems. However, despite extensive testing, many problems are only detected on production deployment, resulting in unplanned downtime and loss of

– Stronger Data Security
– Businesses need to address regulatory compliance requirements by protecting sensitive data on the network, on backup media, or within the database from unauthorized disclosure.
– Faster Performance
– Greater Availability

Desktop Virtualization:-
Citrix desktop solution was implemented for users at Mahalaxmi and Kurla 2500 (80% of targeted users) in Citrix as per the SOW and within the stipulated time and Cost baseline. We have also completed the total build and design phase by commissioning of Xen Servers, Xen App, Xen Desktop, Xen Client, PVS, ZDC, Netscaler, DB, NAS and SAN storages. All these have been configured in a redundant mode for high availability. This environment is accessible from any device and anywhere.

– Essar is the First organization in India to sign Unlimited Licensing agreement with Citrix for Organisation rollout of desktop virtualization.
– EA with Microsoft for support has been done to ensure coverage of the Licensing from the Microsoft front for a desktop Virtualization solution implementation.
– Desktop Virtualization implemented in Mumbai Locations of Mahalaxmi and BKC office.
– 5000 users have already been moved to the desktop Virtualization platform.
– 12000 with desktops in one year for 40000 users in one year across group locations. Vadinar and Hazira Locations planned to be completed in the next 6 months.
– Riverbed WAN optimization solution has been implemented across location for optimization of WAN bandwidth and ensuring impact of Desktop Virtualization on Bandwidth is managed effectively.
– To ensure latency free access of the Virtual desktops across the LAN, we have upgraded to the Backend Network core in the Datacenter to a 10 GB LAN..
– Load balancing for the access of the Virtual desktop is done efficiently by Citrix Netscaler equipment that is deployed in Essar Environment.

Server Virtualization:

The deployment of the virtualized environment began in August 2011.Essar has built its entire Hyper-V infrastructure on Blade Server Technology with high availability (N+N redundancy) along with EMC data storage to have flexibility in accommodating new requirements in future. Today, the company has five physical servers at one locations and one enclosure running Hyper-V, operating a total of 185 virtual servers.

To maximize the benefits of a private cloud environment, the company also deployed Microsoft System Center solutions to help simplify server management. Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 is used to monitor all its virtual machines and eventually, all physical servers. This specifically includes monitoring the state, health, and performance of its server infrastructure.

To manage the virtual environment, the company has installed and configured Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. It enables centralized management of physical and virtual IT infrastructure, and increases server utilization and dynamic resource optimization across multiple virtualization platforms.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0 is being used to simplify the process of on-boarding a new business unit infrastructure request. Now, data center administrators can register business unit requirements in one centralized location. Business unit administrators can then request resources from the organization’s infrastructure pool to host their IT services. Implementation of Self-Service Portal also simplifies the process for data center administrators to validate and provision a business unit IT


WAN Optimization Project

Qualitative Benefits :

  • Application acceleration for the broadest range of enterprise applications
  • Web caching
  • Optimization of all TCP traffic for bandwidth utilization and TCP behavior.
  • Reduced Data transfer times

Quantitative Benefits :

  • Reduced the CapEx / OpEx expenditure Cost of BW up gradation up to 60%
  • Minimized the need for expensive WAN upgrades – in an office served by a T1 (1.5 Mbps), we can deliver bandwidth equivalent of up to between 3-30 Mbps just by adding Steelhead appliances to our WAN link.
  • Great ROI.Achieved Pay pack Period of Investment avg. 25 months

Oracle Databse 11g – Landscape upgrade

As result of project apart from cost benefit of 5 Crore rupees the company has we achieved Productivity up over 50 per cent and reduce cost of upgrades by 50 pc among others.

Desktop Virtualization:

The immediate ROI has been savings on the following paramters.
Particulars Savings
Trouble Tickets/Help Desk 30-40%
Moves, adds, changes, deletions (IMAC) 50%+
Patching OS, reimaging systems, resolving corruptions 50%+
Configure/upgrade/repair hardware 75%+

Server Virtualization:

– Reduced CapEx
– Reduced Power, Cooling
– Datacentre floor space
– Server Consolidation reduced hardware cost
– Efficiently access and manage resources have reduced operations and systems management costs while maintaining needed capacity.
– Now, Single server function as multiple virtual servers.
– Optimization of workloads
– Respond dynamically to the application needs of users.
– Increased use of existing resources by enabling dynamic sharing of resource pools.
– IT flexibility and responsiveness

( A CIOL Case Study)

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