How Micro Inks Virtualized Core Apps and Got Rid of Downtime

The Organization: When it started, Micro Inks was just another small-scale, Vapi-based company in a city that's home to over 1,400 other small scale industries. Within 25 years, it's grown to over Rs 1,000 crore and has become a force to reckon with in the ink industry. The Challenge: From 2006 to 2010, the company ran core apps like ERP on a physical infrastructure. This included 28 Intel-based servers with direct-attached storage. That setup had a great run until a fateful day in 2009, when a deadly virus corrupted the company's SAP, and took business down for three days. That's when Head-IT Mayank Desai decided to revamp the company's entire IT infrastructure and move all its core apps to a virtualized environment to check downtime.

The Project: Desai had a plan, but he foresaw an imminent problem: Allocating resources to apps on virtualized infrastructure was going to be hard as most hypervisors only support the Intel platform. Also, they don't have core performance levels of a Unix server.

Micro Inks was growing at a rapid pace and it needed an infrastructure that could not only handle the load but also ensure zero downtime and uninterrupted business continuity. That's when Head-IT Mayank Desai decided to revamp the company's entire IT infrastructure and move all its core apps to a virtualized environment.

Despite these issues, Desai knew that ensuring zero downtime was paramount. So he decided to take the plunge. He virtualized and shrunk the number of servers from 28 to seven. "We set a recovery time objective of one to four hours, and aimed at achieving zero data loss, in case systems went down," says Desai. Disaster recovery and a lack of support from Oracle--since it would be running on another vendor's virtual platform--were pressing concerns for Micro Inks while moving its core apps to a virtualized environment. Desai had no reason to worry since the new system would automate DR, which meant should a disaster occur, Micro Inks can fail over the core apps and legacy systems from its production datacenter to a near-DR site. Virtualization also enabled the company to perform testing without disrupting production systems or users. By replicating Oracle instances--running on native operating system, Windows--Desai is confident that Micro Inks can avail support in case of any problem. "We also created a back-up for Oracle which was running on legacy systems."

The Benefits: Today, Micro Inks' datacenter runs on more resilient infrastructure, and in the event of a disaster, the organization can recover with zero data loss from its SAP and Microsoft Exchange Server systems. "If we experience physical server failure, the solution automatically restarts the VMs running SAP or Exchange components in safe environments," says Desai. Chances of failure are very low considering that Micro Inks tested for over 500 failover scenarios. "After we had finished configuring our apps on the virtual infrastructure, we found that we had 40 percent spare resources," said Desai. "This gives us room to expand and mitigate recurring IT expenses." Encouraged by the project's success, Micro Inks is now looking at VDI for 600 users.

Ershad Kaleebullah is a correspondent for CIO India and ComputerWorld India.

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