Archives ||About Us || Advertise || Feedback || Subscribe-
-
Issue of July 2003 
-
  -  
 
 Home > Case Study
 Print Friendly Page ||  Email this story

Case Study: TTSL’s Consolidated Network

Server consolidation equals scalability, lower TCO

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 management.

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.

The options

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 recovery site.

Implementation

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 load peaks.

Benefits

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 to date.
  • 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 task.

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 implemented.

Akhtar Pasha can be reached at akhtar@expresscomputeronline.com

TTSL’s Consolidated Network

Click on image for larger view
In a nutshell

The company
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.

The problem
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.

The solution
TTSL decided to buy three Sun Fire 15K servers to fulfil the present and future business requirements.

Benefits
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.

 
     
- <Back to Top>-  

© Copyright 2001: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Limited (Mumbai, India). All rights reserved throughout the world.
This entire site is compiled in Mumbai by the Business Publications Division (BPD) of the Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Limited. Site managed by BPD.