Tata Teleservices' server set-up
consisted of multiple servers running a mix of operating
systems, and was hard to scale. The company has consolidated
to three Sun Fire 15K servers, and avoided setting up
redundant data centers in the process. by Akhtar Pasha
Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL)
is a leading private basic service provider offering
basic telephony, ISP, NLD, broadband and CDMA mobile
services. The company uses a fiber-optic backbone spanning
2,000 kilometers to provide these services. Having established
its presence in the Andhra Pradesh (AP) telecom circle,
the company plans to roll out its services in five new
circles in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, New Delhi
and Gujarat. TTSL is known to end-customers by its brand
name of 'Tata Indicom'.
A heterogeneous environment
Prior to its server consolidation,
TTSL was using 11 servers that were used to run diverse
enterprise applications like ERP, billing, order management,
CRM and data warehousing. Two HP 9000 K260 servers with
two CPUs each, were used to run TTSL's Mediation application,
that records calls from the switch and pumps it to the
billing system. The data is used in applications such
as fraud detection and network management. Two HP 9000
K570 servers with four CPUs each ran reporting and data
warehousing applications, while another two HP N-Class
servers with eight CPUs each, ran billing and order
Additionally, the company was
using three 1200 Compaq AlphaServers for ERP, GIS and
network management, and one 4100 AlphaServer for production
and development. A Sun E4500 server was used for running
CRM. All these servers were located at TTSL's data center
in Hyderabad. Before going in for server consolidation,
TTSL was using disk-attached storage that was insufficient
for meeting its growing data requirements.
Challenges before TTSL
In today's economy, enterprises
must reduce costs and achieve better returns on their
assets, and improve operations. In the last three years,
TTSL added servers to meet its application requirements.
In the past, the company had invested in eleven different
types of servers, with distinct configurations to run
its applications, and managing these servers was not
a simple task.
Availability and manageability
In the earlier set-up, as multiple
server applications ran on many different servers, there
were times when a sudden peak in network load resulted
in applications not being available. Says A.V. Rajendran,
General Manager-IT, TTSL, "Keeping these servers running
was a real chore."
Managing these servers and keeping
them up and running required additional staff, so TCO
was high. In addition to this, these servers were neither
scaleable nor did they meet the new demands of TTSL
and its expansion plans, to offer services in five new
telecom circles. Rajendran said the only way out was
to buy additional servers and create new data centers
across the new circles.
TTSL was also facing difficulties
in managing its disk-attached storage. So it decided
to consolidate storage and implement network-based storage
using a SAN, so that it could plan and set up a disaster
recovery site in Mumbai.
TTSL had two options to solve
its business problem. The first was to replicate its
data centers across all five telecom circles. This required
fresh investments in setting up data centers. The second
option was to consolidate its existing 11 servers and
deploy top-of-the-line servers that would meet its future
requirements, and bring down costs of data center management
and administration. Consolidating the servers gave TTSL
the option of doing away with disk-attached storage,
and implementing a SAN using Brocade switches, and an
EMC Symmetrix 8830 box, and later set up a disaster
TTSL evaluated IBM, HP and Sun
servers in early 2002. After initial talks with Sun
Microsystems, TTSL decided in April 2002 to consolidate
onto three Sun Fire 15K servers.
Rajendran says, "We wanted to
have a centralized IT infrastructure that could give
us the flexibility in deployment, as well as scale up
with the increase in our customer base, or whenever
an application reached peak usage. Additionally, it
gave us the option to dynamically allocate CPUs, resources
and monitor networks on the fly, bringing high availability
to our business."
The other reason cited by him
was reduction in cost of investment as each server can
maintain a single pool of buffer resources, which can
be allocated dynamically at application peak times.
Once convinced about the Sun
Fire 15K performance, TTSL invested $2 million on three
Sun Fire 15K servers, and hired TCS as the systems integrator
for the deployment. The installation was completed in
three months. The two Sun Fire 15K servers located in
Hyderabad are partitioned into six domains, and are
currently using 92 CPUs, with 50 percent headroom available.
These servers run applications like billing, order management,
ERP, CRM and data warehousing. The third Sun Fire 15
K server is being used at the company's disaster recovery
site in Mumbai.
All discrete data from older
servers has been consolidated to the Symmetrix 8830.
TTSL is using EMC's Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF)
software for remote mirroring its data in Mumbai over
an 8 Mbps link.
Anil Valluri, Director-Systems
Engineering, Sun Microsystems India says, "Sun's architecture
allows enterprises to partition large servers into smaller
servers based on logical and physical partitioning requirements."
Simply put, it allows dynamic
allocation of CPUs, memory and storage without actually
powering down the servers. The other advantage of using
Sun's architecture is that one can do online repair
work and configuration. For example it can mask a bad
sector on its own and alert the IS manager who could
then replace the HDD with a fresh one without affecting
the server. Or say, if one out of eight CPUs fails,
the IS manager could get into the software command line
and replace the CPU with a new one. The advantage of
using the Sun Fire 15K servers is that TTSL can reallocate
bandwidth based on critical applications when server
Consolidating its servers TTSL
has been able to avoid setting up additional data centers
in each circle and has reduced its IT support manpower.
The quantifiable benefits are:
- Lower TCO: Consolidation
has helped TTSL in lowering its IT support manpower
by 25 percent. Some intangible benefits are that TTSL
can make marginal investments into buying additional
CPUs and memory modules, rather than adding new servers
as it would have had to do in the past.
- Availability: Availability
has improved; TTSL has not experienced any outages
- The consolidation has helped
TTSL to reduce number of software licenses required.
- TTSL would have had to replicate
the Hyderabad data center in other circles if it had
stuck to its earlier setup. By consolidating, it has
managed to avoid this expensive and time-consuming
What lies ahead
TTSL wants to roll out a series
of value-added services related to customer support
systems. In addition to this the company intends to
offer data services such as SMS and strengthen its voice-based
services. The SMS services are in the process of being
Akhtar Pasha can be reached at email@example.com
Click on image for larger view
Tata Teleservices Ltd., (TTSL) is India's leading
private basic and cellular operator offering basic,
ISP, NLD, broadband and CDMA mobile services.
It has a customer base of close to six lakh across
its six telecom circles.
TTSL had 11 servers running multiple operating
systems and applications such as ERP, billing,
order management, CRM, data warehousing that required
additional manpower to manage. Some applications
were not available during peak time. The servers
were not scaleable and did not meet TTSL business
plans to extend its services in new telecom circles.
TTSL decided to buy three Sun Fire 15K servers
to fulfil the present and future business requirements.
The Sun Fire 15Ks helped TTSL reduce its TCO both
in terms of reducing manpower by 25 percent, and
savings on software licenses. In addition, these
servers are highly scaleable and TTSL can dynamically
allocate resources like bandwidth and CPUs on
the fly without bringing down the Sun Fire servers.