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Issue of February 2007

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The scalability factor

Sanjeev Goel

When an organisation is the size of metal manufacturing major Hindalco, technology is crucial. This, according to Sanjeev Goel, the company’s Senior Vice-president for IT, is the reason for deploying a fresh batch of servers.

“We have around 2,500 users and are planning to move to 10,000 by 2010,” reveals Goel. He explains that the number of business applications was constantly rising.

The Scalability Hurdle

Goel states that application integration became essential as it was becoming onerous to manage and deploy applications due to the organisation’s size. “Achieving scalability was one of the biggest challenges that we faced.” Thus arose the need for scalable servers. The company put together a robust disaster recovery management plan that called for the use of high-end servers.

The Best Option

“We wanted to look at servers that would be easily scalable,” is Goel’s reply when asked about what kind of solutions the organisation was looking at. IBM’s Power 5 series servers seemed the best option. “This technology helped us get into rack mode.” These servers can scale vertically, which saves space as well. Hindalco has chosen p570 DB servers with Oracle 9i configured at the data centre, and a DS 8100 storage array with a capacity of 4.5 TB. The OS is IBM AIX 5.3.

Goel says that IBM was chosen since the “value for money” they provided with the Power 5 architecture was greater than that offered by the competition. He says that a DS 8100 has been installed at the secondary site to ensure fast recovery in the event of a disaster. The servers have features to make sure that problems at the chip or memory level can be handled by the servers. “These multi-application servers take care of our increasing application deployment needs.”

The Timeline

According to Goel, the project was phased, and it was ensured that every phase was given due importance. “The project started in September 2005 with a branch integration project. After evaluation and synchronous DR, the servers and SAN were in place by October.”

This was the deployment’s most important phase when the bulk of the systems were deployed and data movement took place. “Between October 2005 and February 2006 we have been able to add 32 new sites,” he says as he informs that the entire project was completed within five months.

Greater availability

“Availability has gone up,” is the first response from Goel as he lists the benefits that Hindalco has achieved because of the implementation. He says that the implementation has resulted in zero downtime and no data loss whatsoever

Pre-implementation, flash copies of data were made. “We can now take multiple images for the clone and test environment.” Goel also states that for an international organisation like theirs, online visibility is vital and this implementation has ensured that.

When asked about the business benefits, Goel says that the company is currently in the closing stages of project stabilisation. According to him, this is the reason that savings haven’t been quantified.

On the horizon

Goel says that for now the architecture has been finalised and that the organisation will stick to it unless there is need for upgradation. “This was the reason the rack model was chosen. More modules can simply be added without the need to actually upgrade the servers themselves.”

As far as the future is concerned, he says that the company is planning to touch the five billion dollar turnover mark, but that this should not call for a technology upgrade any time soon.

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