Powering India Inc
Indian enterprises believe in putting world-class server
infrastructure in place. This is evident from the examples of The Stock Exchange,
Mumbai, Goodlass Nerolac Paints and Sundaram-Clayton.
BSEs consolidation gain story
When you are handling one of Indias biggest stock exchanges, managing
a host of different servers is the last thing you need on your plate. This was
the issue that S B Patankar, Director, IS, The Stock Exchange, Mumbai, faced
having to deal with decentralised applications.
BSEs server problems had roots in the organisations rapid growth
over the years. As the organisation grew, its servers also mushroomed. Each
department had its own servers resulting in a situation where the stock exchange
found itself with server management issues and inefficient resource utilisation.
According to Patankar, One application needed higher power, while the
other did not. So the hardware was not being utilised efficiently.
Identifying the bottlenecks
This was the time when BSE started identifying critical applications that had
to be operated from its DR site. Consolidation of applications and servers was
diagnosed as the cure for BSEs IT ills.
Server consolidation was undertaken to begin with. However, BSE had to sort
out some tangles to get its consolidation right. To cite an example, derivatives
run through the day and we need lot of compute power for that. At the end of
day, the settlement system requires more power. This is the time when trading
does not happen. So if we keep more CPU power for derivatives, it is going to
waste, Patankar explains.
The right stuff
The stock exchange opted to use HP rp8400 servers based on
the PA-RISC 8700 CPU to resolve the issues that they faced. Two rp8400 servers
in cluster mode were used. The VPAR tool that came with the servers was used
to create virtual partitions allowing BSE to allocate CPUs, memory and I/O according
to the different application requirements.
At present, BSE has consolidated from 14 to just 2 servers with a fail over.
If a server goes down, the applications fail over to the second server.
BSE uses dynamic partitioning so that trading is given the maximum CPU power
during the day. At the end of day, the settlement system gets more power. The
same CPUs that were lying idle earlier are now utilised for various applications
at different points of time. Thus the system is more responsive, hardware costs
are reduced and the hardware is utilised more efficiently, Patankar adds.
According to him, the ROI calculation for the servers has been simple. Earlier,
BSE used to have three-year AMCs for its 14 servers. The new rp8400 servers
with three-year warranty were purchased for the cost of that AMC. Apart from
this, BSE also saved on administration because of the changeover. The
new servers are cheaper and easier to manage. In addition, we almost doubled
the power available for each of the applications, Patankar affirms.
BSE also saved in terms of DR because they did not need to buy 14 servers for
a secondary site. As the organisation was able to reduce the number of servers
at the main site to two, all that was required was to replicate this smaller
set-up at the DR site. It saved here too. The servers used previously are being
used for DR now with necessary upgrades such as additional CPUs and memory.
Anil Patrick R can be reached at
SCLs adaptive server environment
Automobile component manufacturer, Sundaram-Clayton Limited (SCL), wanted to
squeeze the most from its ERP system. To this end, it built its ERP (SAP R/3)
atop an Itanium 2 based server architecture.
The suitable architecture
SCL set about evaluating an appropriate server architecture from solution providers
such as HP and IBM. The evaluation was based on techno-commercial matrices
which looked at the performance of the solution versus the cost, explains
T G Dhandapani, CIO at SCL.
The solution was based on HPs Itanium 2-based Integrity servers. Each
dual processor server enables the architecture to support No Single Point of
Failure (NSPoF) and ensures maximum system uptime.
The servers offer multi-OS compatibility, allowing standardisation of IT infrastructure
on a single platform. The cost of deploying two sets of servers for the two
business divisions was about Rs 1.8 crore.
Infrastructure reliability also derives from the fact that the 2-way servers
are clustered. As soon as CPU use hits a pre-set threshold, the system is designed
to send an SMS to the system administrator. HP OpenView is used to manage the
network and SAPs Solution Manager to monitor application performance.
The development server, which ran IBM AIX, had to be migrated to a HP Itanium
platform. Clustering the servers took some work.
Adapting servers for the better
About 150 team members at SCL access the new set-up, and another 100 will be
added as SAP goes live at two more group companies and four manufacturing units
in Hosur and Pune.
The transaction time has reduced by almost a third. The IT infrastructure
has become reliable, and availability is high as the clustering of applications
has resulted in a reduction in downtime. This helps us fully utilise the benefits
of ERP. The server architecture is easy to scale since an increased workload
in future will only need to incrementally add hardware, comments Dhandapani.
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at
Paint my server
GM, IT & Costing
With the whos who of global players entering the Indian
market, Goodlass Nerolac Paint Limited (GNPL) faced competition on an unprecedented
scale during the late 1990s. Like many Indian players, the organisation had
no option but to adopt global systems and standards.
The situation led Jason Gonsalves, GM, IT & Costing,
GNPL, to consolidate the organisations distributed applications. IT
was identified as one of the key vehicles to bring about the change to deal
with global competition. Technology had matured sufficiently by 2000 to consider
a centralised environment and a process-based approach, says Gonsalves.
Today GNPL is an Indian market leader operating in two segmentsdecorative
and industrial paints. It is a leading player in the industrial segment with
over 45 percent marketshare. Clubbing the industrial and decorative paint segments
together, it is the second largest player in the paint industry with a marketshare
of approximately 20 percent. The organisation operates out of five factories
and 65 depots spread across India.
Order from chaos
GNPL decided to get its infrastructure in shape in 2000. At that time, the organisation
ran a legacy application built around technologies such as Cobol and Unix. This
was a decentralised IT set-up with applications spread across 65 locations and
67 servers. Five of its factories had five different servers, and the head office
had its own servers. All these necessitated a backbone and thats
where the servers came. The driving point was not to change the servers, but
to drive business needs. Luckily, one strength was that the platform was the
same throughout the organisation, explains Gonsalves.
GNPL decided to move on from the legacy decentralised mode of working to a SAP
ERP system. At the same time, it deployed data warehousing from SAS. Because
the company had a Unix-Cobol platform throughout the organisation, the idea
of a centralised architecture was easy to sell. The projects were started together
in early 2000, and they went live by November that year.
The supporting backbone
The server farm was started from 2000 onwards starting with the SAP R/3 platform.
Seven Sun servers were used for this infrastructure.
A clustered database with a backup solution from Sun was deployed. However,
due to the high data growth (14 to 16 GB per month) generated by SAP R/3, GNPL
went in a data archiving system using an Intel class server from Wipro.
A supply chain solution using SAP APO was next in line in 2003. This called
for augmentation of the server architecture. For this, GNPL added four more
servers from Sun. When we did server sizing, we were getting values as
high at 32 GB of RAM. Today it is being used in a server which has 40 GB of
RAM, Gonsalves adds.
GNPL switched from SAS data warehousing to SAP BIW. This required three more
Sun servers, which has resulted in the creation of a farm of 20 servers which
GNPL is in the process of consolidating. Says Gonsalves, Work is on jointly
with Sun and Wipro for consolidating the servers. We are trying to consolidate
SAP R/3 and SAP APO on to the same server.
Anil Patrick R can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at email@example.com