Webb virtualizes and innovates with flexible infrastructure

Providing a high-performance, cost-effective, scalable solution based on IBM BladeCenter with KVM

Published on 05-Nov-2012

"In the supply chain SaaS business, high reliability and low costs are essential to our customers. By using open virtualization with KVM on IBM blade servers, we’ve been able to accelerate our software testing and quality assurance, as well as host our production back-office applications." - Mauricio Longo, IT infrastructure manager, Webb

Customer:
Webb

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
Brazil

Solution:
Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

Overview

For more than 11 years, Webb has provided supply chain management services for Latin America. Based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Webb offers outsourcing, consulting and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. As an early adopter of SaaS technology, Webb uses this model to provide logistics and procurement solutions supporting critical supply chain functions for a wide range of customers.

Business need:
Webb, a Brazilian supply chain management company, faced growing software-testing demands and needed a new, cost-efficient infrastructure with improved flexibility and performance. At the same time, the company also needed to replace several racks of servers used to run back-office applications such as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.

Solution:
The company deployed IBM® BladeCenter® H chassis containing BladeCenter HS22 servers with Intel® Xeon® processors. The servers were virtualized in two clusters running Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.0 with Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) technology. Webb also deployed IBM Systems Director with Active Energy Manager for systems management and IBM Storwize® V7000 for storage.

Benefits:
The IBM solution reduced software licensing costs by 70 percent, lowered configuration time for virtual machines from two days to 15 minutes and reduced server footprint by more than 80 percent

Case Study

For more than 11 years, Webb has provided supply chain management services for Latin America. Based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Webb offers outsourcing, consulting and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. As an early adopter of SaaS technology, Webb uses this model to provide logistics and procurement solutions supporting critical supply chain functions for a wide range of customers.

Meeting growing demands for software testing

Before deploying its SaaS solutions—which are hosted by IBM in Brazil and managed by IBM Services—Webb conducts rigorous software testing and quality assurance processes. Consisting of nine unique environments, each with five testing phases, the process has proven to be successful in helping the company produce high-quality software releases. According to Mauricio Longo, IT infrastructure manager at Webb, “Our testing has allowed us to dramatically improve the rates at which we can identify and fix issues before they make it into a production environment.”

Although the company had established a strong testing process, business growth required a reevaluation of the IT infrastructure it used to run tests. Two years ago, Webb was using a data center based in the US to host its testing environment. But as customer demands for Webb software steadily increased over time, so did the company’s software testing requirements. The company needed to improve the flexibility and performance of its infrastructure to address its increased testing needs.

At the same time, Webb also needed to refresh its onsite infrastructure used to run the company’s back-office applications. Several racks of servers—supporting applications such as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning—were in need of replacement. After considering its growing list of requirements, the company came up with an idea for a combined, onsite solution. “We decided it would be more cost effective if we combined our corporate IT and testing environments into a single solution,” says Longo.

Looking to virtualization for flexibility and performance

As Webb began to evaluate its options, the company decided that a solution based on virtualization technology could provide the required flexibility and performance to support its demanding testing environments. The company also wanted its new solution to provide failover capabilities, reduce its server footprint, and lower energy and cooling costs. For administration, Webb needed a solution with efficient management capabilities, an improvement that would be important for managing a complex, virtualized infrastructure.

After consulting with IBM, Webb decided to replace its existing Dell servers with an IBM BladeCenter H chassis containing IBM BladeCenter HS22 servers with Intel Xeon processors. The servers were virtualized in two clusters running Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.0 with KVM technology. Webb also deployed IBM Systems Director with Active Energy Manager for systems management and IBM Storwize V7000 for storage. The company worked with IBM Global Financing to create a three-year lease covering all of the solution components.

Realizing numerous benefits on many levels

By moving its testing environment from an offsite provider to an onsite virtualized infrastructure powered by BladeCenter servers and KVM technology, Webb has gained significant reliability while recognizing substantial cost savings. As explained by Longo, “In the supply chain SaaS business, high reliability is essential to our customers. By using open virtualization with KVM on IBM blade servers, we’ve been able to accelerate our software testing and quality assurance, as well as host our production back-office applications.”

To demonstrate the solution’s reliability, Webb conducted a failover simulation. When a single blade server was brought offline, administrators watched as the system automatically shifted the virtual machines to other servers in the cluster. “This is very impressive,” remarks Longo. “With virtual machine prioritization, even if we had a 50-percent failure within the cluster, we could keep on going.” This capability helps the company ensure that virtual machines and critical testing and business functions continue to run smoothly during planned or unplanned outages.

So far, Webb has seen significant cost savings from its IT solution. By using KVM technology, the company has reduced its software licensing costs by 70 percent. And by reducing its server footprint from almost three full racks to one half rack, Webb has noticed considerable cost savings for power and cooling. Going forward, the company expects to achieve an overall 32-percent reduction in IT server expenses over a three-year period.

Webb also has benefitted from its new IBM storage solution. Containing a mix of solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives, the Storwize V7000 uses a drive-tiering feature to automatically store data on different tiers of disks based on how frequently the data is accessed. This is especially advantageous in a virtual environment in that it provides virtual machines with faster access to frequently used configuration data stored on SSDs, while infrequently accessed data such as log files are stored on lower tiers of slower, less-expensive disks—a capability that enables Webb to improve storage performance and reduce drive costs. The self-optimizing operation of the Storwize V7000 also helps the company reduce administration time and effort.

Staying on the leading edge with IBM

Expressing his overall impression of the new IBM solution, Longo comments, “We gained flexibility. We gained a leading edge. And we did it in such a way that it actually cost us less than what we were doing.”

For future projects, Webb plans to add more IBM blade servers and also to create a new cluster for testing. Webb hopes to build upon its initial IT successes and continue working with IBM, leading the way as a technology innovator in the supply chain management business.

For more information

Please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/bladecenter

For more information about Webb, visit: webb.com.br

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
BladeCenter H Chassis, BladeCenter HS22, Storage: Storwize V7000, System x: System x running hypervisor - KVM

Software:
IBM Systems Director Active Energy Management

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 Produced in the United States of America October 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, BladeCenter, and Storwize 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 Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon and Xeon Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. 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. 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.