China Railway: Making the move to cloud computing

Using IBM Power Systems virtualization to implement infrastructure as a service

Published on 30-Sep-2012

"If I had one thing to suggest to those considering a project like this, it would be to come visit us and take a look at our system. Experience first-hand what can be done to optimize the business and processes." - Du Yao, IT System Administrator, China Railway

Customer:
China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation

Industry:
Travel & Transportation

Deployment country:
China

Solution:
Cloud Computing, Cloud & Service Management, Service Oriented Architecture, Virtualization

Overview

Beijing-based China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation is a large-scale, state-run enterprise that supplies and supports the country’s vast rail network. It has 18 storage and transportation bases around the country, with an area totaling more than 1.55 million square meters. The organization has 27 subsidiaries across China, 10 holding companies, two overseas companies and a logistics college.

Business need:
Business growth at China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation (China Railway) created significant challenges at its data center with underutilized hardware and rising costs for equipment, operation and maintenance.

Solution:
China Railway worked with IBM Business Partner BeiJing Teamsun Technology to create a virtualized infrastructure, offering computing services to its many subsidiaries through infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) management.

Benefits:
Optimizing resource allocation and delivery helped reduce the company’s time to market by 50 percent, while cutting costs for equipment and systems management by one-third.

Case Study

Beijing-based China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation is a large-scale, state-run enterprise that supplies and supports the country’s vast rail network. It has 18 storage and transportation bases around the country, with an area totaling more than 1.55 million square meters. The organization has 27 subsidiaries across China, 10 holding companies, two overseas companies and a logistics college.

China Railway relies on SAP enterprise software to run all business divisions and its subsidiaries. The industry-leading application suite met the company’s needs, but there was a significant technical challenge: the extended enterprise needed more IT flexibility and efficiency to keep up with growing demand. With so many business units asking for resources, there were bottlenecks that hurt performance and productivity. In addition, China Railway’s growth, while good for the company, was leading to server sprawl. The only way to add capacity was to deploy more servers, and every year the cost of equipment, power, cooling and management increased. At the same time, servers were dramatically underutilized because it was not possible to effectively match resources with workloads.

“We were able to meet our immediate needs with conventional servers and storage,” says Mr. Du Yao, IT System Administrator at China Railway. “But it was not sustainable. Business growth required us to look for alternatives. We decided to build a new infrastructure that would become the foundation for cloud computing in the future.”

Moving to the cloud

China Railway worked with IBM Business Partner BeiJing Teamsun Technology to develop its new infrastructure, based on the company’s TeamsunCloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) software, and a virtualized IBM® Power Systems™-based infrastructure. The Teamsun IaaS solution is based on IBM Systems Director management software, IBM PowerVM®, and IBM Systems Director VMControl™, and offers the ability to allocate computing resources far more effectively and efficiently for greater utilization of assets and lower cost.

“Our concept was to create an environment based on the IaaS model,” says Du Yao. “By making infrastructure resources available as a service, we would make better use of our hardware investments. At the same time, the IT environment would be much simpler and easier to manage.” China Railway had been using approximately ten x86 servers and two UNIX servers, all managed separately. Now, the infrastructure has been consolidated onto three IBM POWER® 750 Express servers, managed as a seamless environment.

Careful analysis pays off

China Railway chose IBM Power Systems and IBM Systems Software technology for several reasons. “We did a thorough evaluation of quality, pricing, capabilities and expected benefits,” says Du Yao. “We found that Teamsun and IBM offered technical, as well as cost advantages, thanks in part to IBM flexibility in meeting our budget requirements. We also got peace of mind working with IBM, which is a highly respected and trusted provider. That was important to us.”

Teamsun experts collaborated with China Railway’s IT staff to prepare a detailed project plan and solution architecture, including processes for management of the new infrastructure. IBM provided technical support to help ensure a trouble-free deployment. Teamsun also conducted training for China Railway on IBM Power Systems, the AIX® operating system, IBM PowerHA® configuration and IBM PowerVM. “Teamsun was very diligent and responsive, doing a good job of implementing the solution,” says Du Yao. “They gave us a better understanding of IBM products and systems usage. That was of great help to us in optimizing our operations.”

A more flexible way of providing IT services

The solution makes use of IBM PowerHA to ensure high availability through clustering of the three POWER 750 Express servers along with virtual system mirroring. IBM PowerVM, IBM Systems Director VMControl and TeamsunCloud IaaS software are used to manage the environment. This fully virtualized infrastructure supports all of China Railway’s SAP workloads, across all of its businesses.

The infrastructure now provides virtualized IaaS on a managed basis. While some processes are automated and controlled by authorized users, China Railway IT administrators exert policy-based approval authority over resource usage. Users request capacity and once approved, hardware allocation, configuration, workload management and resource re-uptake are handled autonomously by TeamsunCloud and Systems Director. What once required formal requests, approval, procurement, installation, management and maintenance of physical systems is now handled automatically in a virtual environment.

Through a centralized console that provides end-to-end control, IBM Systems Director gives China Railway the flexibility it needs as it moves towards cloud computing. The current hybrid approach, which combines the automation of cloud with manual oversight by administrators, aligns with the company’s present business priorities. At the same time, Systems Director lays the foundation for future evolution should the business elect to adopt a fully autonomous cloud model.

Simpler infrastructure, lower costs

The solution has enabled China Railway to achieve impressive results: deployment periods have decreased by 50 percent and the cost of equipment and infrastructure management has dropped by one-third. “We’re very satisfied with the work Teamsun and IBM did,” says Du Yao. “It went very smoothly and there were no major issues.”

Du Yao is proud of what China Railway has been able to accomplish with its new solution—even to the point of sharing the company’s success with others. “If I had one thing to suggest to those considering a project like this, it would be to come visit us and take a look at our system. Experience first-hand what can be done to optimize the business and processes.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power 750, Power Systems

Software:
IBM Systems Director VMControl, PowerHA for AIX, IBM Systems Director Enterprise Edition for Power, PowerVM

Operating system:
AIX

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America August 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, POWER, Power Systems, PowerHA, PowerVM, and Systems Director VMControl are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group in the United States and other countries. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. POC03104-USEN-00