Ausenco virtualises to 95 percent, upgrades DR capability

Transformation initiative will support move to private cloud and future public/private cloud interoperability

Australian engineering, project management and operations company Ausenco has undertaken a major virtualisation and disaster recovery (DR) upgrade as a foundation to developing a private cloud for its core enterprise applications.

The upgrade saw the company move en mass to virtualisation start off with a pilot of about 10 percent of its server environment and it is now approaching the final stage of 95 percent. Physical servers have been slashed from 72 to just 12, and the company has upgraded to a number of Sun X4600 machines.

The DR centre, based in Perth and designed, supplied and implemented by Dimension Data, also utilises a new tiered storage environment employing EMC Clarion hardware and Avamar data de-duplication, and Cisco switches.

The project is a first step in a larger transformation for the organisation that will see staff skills upgraded and the right technologies put in place to facilitate global expansion, said Ausenco CIO Paul Young.

“The nature of being a project delivery service is that we work in very diverse geographical areas across the world, so the issue with that is getting your applications on to site, or close enough to site via links that will give a good experience to allow staff to perform their work,” he said.

“Moving down the virtualisation path lets you abstract your core applications then shift, move and provision them around the world. I can see a time coming down the track when you will be able to lease or buy space in other people’s clouds so that your applications are where you need them to be.”

While the new DR centre and virtualisation program has positioned the company for long term growth, Ausenco is already reaping benefits from the deployment through better capacity planning and, in particular, an improved knowledge management capability. “Virtualisation allows you to encapsulate all the information associated with an application and capture it in an image file,” Young said. “Once you have worked out how you want to deploy your application, you can package that up, ship in somewhere else and deploy it there so it really helps your speed of deployment. It abstracts away the layer of having to purchase severs and storage and provision it all, and allows you to concentrate on the application stack.”

Virtualisation has also given Ausenco a way to sync up its applications hosted in its Brisbane data centre (which services the US and Asia) and its Perth data centre (which services Africa) via VMware’s VMotion application, Young says.

“By synching-up applications in both locations I can provide a better capability to the world and get the benefit of a DR solution,” he said. “Typically DR just sits there not giving any benefit, and this way it lets us fully utilise the DR infrastructure while having the DR capability. We also have real time data between both sites giving us a better level of data persistence through the organisation.”

Moving to a tiered storage environment has also helped Ausenco get a handle on data management challenges through being able to transfer less frequently used, de-duplicated data across to secondary storage.

“Doing that has meant we have extended the life of our SANS by two or three years,” he said.

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