ZPIZ's private cloud

The Pension and Invalidity Insurance Institute of Slovenia (hereinafter ZPIZ) is the carrier and provider of compulsory pension and disability insurance in Slovenia. The institute is the second-largest national public fund (after the national budget), providing insurance for 860,000 people at the end of 2011.

ZPIZ provided part of its IT resources for its employees through a data center with a VMware 3.5 virtual infrastructure platform and 50 virtual servers. But this configuration no longer provided sufficient resources, and administration was difficult and time-consuming. Thus, ZPIZ decided to upgrade its data center with a new server infrastructure and deploy a new VMware platform.

The upgrade would provide a more powerful information system, simplify virtual desktop management and speed up work processes. After a public tender, ZPIZ chose NIL HyperCenter as the most appropriate solution. NIL prevailed in the decision due to the solution’s price/performance ratio, excellent market references and numerous certified experts in-house.

"I would stress the quality of the whole solution and the methodology of how NIL integrates Cisco and VMware technologies."

Damir Jurkin, Head of Data Networking Department, ZPIZ

Analysis, planning, deployment and knowledge transfer

The solution was implemented in three phases. First NIL conducted a detailed analysis of the existing server infrastructure. On the basis of that analysis, we prepared a migration plan for existing servers and deployment of the new solution (physical and virtual servers plus virtual desktops). We also set up a plan for the management portal and solution testing.

The second step began with deployment, which took three months. We upgraded the core Cisco Catalyst switches to 10 Gb and the VSS functionality, while ZPIZ engineers updated the IBM and NetApp storage for integration. After this process was complete, we installed and configured Cisco UCS, a VMware vSphere 5 server virtualization platform and VMware View 5 virtual desktop infrastructure system. The new UCS server has eight server blades that will gradually be expanded to 21. The server system provides resources for more than 50 virtual servers, 50 virtual development workstations, 100 virtual desktops and the VDI management system. If necessary, the configuration can have more than 30 server blades.

After the installations were complete, migration began. The existing server environment migrated to the new infrastructure and was integrated with Active Directory, IP telephony and an IBM Lotus Notes e-mail system. Finally, we introduced the virtual desktops into the production environment and installed the HyperDesktop management, provisioning and orchestration portal.

In the final phase of the project, NIL’s experts prepared the complete product documentation and equipped ZPIZ’s engineers with appropriate skills for working with the new environment.

"NIL HyperCenter gave us a more efficient and flexible IT infrastructure, which was the goal of the upgrade. The virtualization in the NIL HyperCenter server environment, in addition to the virtualization in the IBM System z server environment, provides us with the scalability to help us achieve the goals of our ICT strategy."

MSc. Edmond Pajk, CIO, ZPIZ

Upgrade goals completely achieved

With the upgrade, ZPIZ has achieved its set goals: more available resources and simplified administration. The solution gives ZPIZ central and automated management of the complete infrastructure, all user desktops are unified, and the system is easily scalable. Adding new users now takes much less time, because the required time for setting up a workplace decreased from a couple of hours to just 30 minutes. In comparison with the previous infrastructure, the installation of a new user also demands less work – a single person can handle it with just a couple of clicks.

The solution made more than just the administrators happy. Working conditions have significantly improved, especially for developers. They have more available resources, upgrades are faster and smoother, and the same goes for installations. The team can really focus on its main tasks now, and thus is much more efficient.

ZPIZ started enjoying these benefits soon after deployment. Thanks to the very good collaboration between the engineering teams at ZPIZ and NIL, the planning and installation were executed very smoothly, as the client pointed out.

Business Benefits

  • 30 minutes to set up new workplace (before couple of hours)
  • More efficient development team
  • Extended life-time of workstations
  • Faster upgrades
  • Knowledge transfer

Solution characteristics

  • Cisco UCS server infrastructure
  • Cisco Catalyst 6500 (10 Gb) central switches with VSS system
  • Cisco Nexus 1000V virtual switch
  • VMware vSphere 5 virtualization platform
  • VMware View 5 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
  • Firewall-enforced security policy in LAN environment
  • Active Directory upgrade and migration
  • NIL HyperDesktop management portal
  • Automated management of virtual desktops
  • Integration with existing IBM disk array, IP telephony and IBM Lotus Notes e-mail system