Service delivery speed and ultra-high reliability in one data center
When you are cornered by mounting business requirements, it is high time to start from scratch. Read how NIL helped a large energy distributor in the EU to create and migrate to an application-oriented, future-proof and highly resilient SDDC.
It was a familiar story: a data center architecture rooted in the 1990s that has to support critical business services, but cannot respond to major change requests, while maintaining a high level of resilience. The device-centric, physical architecture that provides excellent stability, but only if the workloads and operations are relatively static.
But, as a matter of fact, they are not. Times have changed and organizations have to respond to the new challenges: a reduction in the number of personnel, a major increase in workload and user diversity, and foremost, a new balance of speedy delivery combined with high reliability – once upon a time, contradictory requirements.
Challenge: Great solution. But not for today’s challenges.
One of our clients, a major national electricity and natural gas distributor from the EU, was in the same situation. Their existing data center infrastructure no longer had the capacity to meet their needs. In our client’s business context, their business challenges were centered on meeting the quality and safety criteria, maintaining a real-time balance between supply and demand, and ensuring system conditions that allow the energy market to properly operate.
After assessing the situation, the client concluded that the only way forward was to deploy a new data center infrastructure. They wanted the solution to provide the following features and functionalities:
- A unified, highly resilient infrastructure for all services and applications.
- An application-oriented infrastructure supporting the ITaaS provider and broker mode.
- High operational flexibility with a fast and efficient deployment of services.
- A large extent of automation and orchestration of the IT infrastructure.
- Tightly integrated company security policies.
- Smooth application migration.
- Evolved and modernized core technologies used for the IT infrastructure.
NIL convinced them with the big picture approach, based on real-life experience
The task was complex. To find the best solution for their customer, we had to evaluate all of the current mainstream architectures and approaches. It also soon became clear that the customer would have to establish some new strategic technology partnerships. A decision that would have a long-term influence on their data center operations as well as their business.
For them to find the right, unbiased answers, they invited several partners to suggest the new data center’s blueprint, help with technology selection, and assist them with the deployment. Eventually, they decided on NIL, as we convinced them with the big picture approach that addressed all of their demands with a comprehensive future-proof software-defined data center (SDDC) architecture. In addition, NIL also had experience with implementing SDDCs in similar business environments as well as working with different vendors.
On the way to the final solution, NIL provided the client with the following services for designing and implementing next-generation SDDC infrastructure:
- Customized workshops with vendor-independent presentations of industry trends and technology aspects for designing and implementing next generation multi-tenancy services-oriented IT infrastructures.
- Focused evaluations and comparisons of the techniques, technologies, and products that might fit our client’s requirements and environment.
- Recommendations and field-proven best practices (sizing, scaling, resiliency, multi-tenancy, secure segmentation…).
- Preparation of the final solution blueprints and functional specifications.
The final solution satisfied all the clients’ requirements. From a business perspective, they are now able to deploy applications much faster, work on optimizing the consistency of the operation and maintenance tasks by using automation, and evolve from a disaster recovery architecture to a disaster avoidance mode of operation, thereby highly improving their business continuity model.
This consulting engagement covered the following technology aspects of modern SDDC infrastructures:
- Compute, storage, and virtualization technologies (hyper-converged infrastructure, software-defined storage, all-flash arrays, comparing Nutanix, Pure Storage, VMware VSAN, Cisco UCS, and Dell VxRail).
- Data center fabric technologies (comparing Cisco ACI, VMware NSX, EVPN VXLAN fabric).
- Network and application services (physical, virtualized, and distributed firewalling and load-balancing services, global load balancing, network analytics, user identity management, authentication, identity-based firewalling, DDoS protection).
- Automation, infrastructure programming, versioning systems, continuous integration and automation development (comparing and using Python, PowerShell, Ruby, Ansible, Chef, Git, Jenkins, Rest API, VMware vRealize).
- Business continuity policies and backup services (comparing Veeam BRS, Cohesity, EMC Avamar, HP Data Protector).
- Modern SDDC that satisfies all of the clients’ requirements
- Future-proof and scalable architecture
- Faster service deployment
- Disaster avoidance capabilities
- Cost-efficient approach and smooth deployment
- Vendor-agnostic consulting for optimal technology stack