Saudi Post Corporation wanted to transform its infrastructure and reduce operating costs by implementing an Infrastructure as a Service Private Cloud—the first in the Saudi public sector. Working with Netways, Saudi Post upgraded to Windows Server
2008 R2 with Hyper-V and deployed the Microsoft System Center suite of products. Operating costs have been cut by more than 50 per cent and physical servers reduced from around 150 to 32.
Based in Riyadh, Saudi Post is a government-owned enterprise. It processes all of the country’s mail and maintains a network of more than 550 primary and branch post offices.
Technology innovation is central to Saudi Post, which acts like a private sector business in delivering competitive mail and parcel handling services within the kingdom and to other countries. To meet the challenge of an ever-changing market for postal services,
Saudi Post needed to improve the resilience and flexibility of its IT infrastructure.
As part of its drive to create a more environmentally sustainable and cost-effective infrastructure, it wanted a new dynamic data center delivered through a server consolidation and virtualization programme. The corporation also needed an automated management
suite for its servers to reduce demands on the IT support team.
Anwar Bakhashwain, IT Operations Director, Saudi Post Corporation, says: “Our previous data center solution was based on traditional hardware purchases that in some cases took eight to 12 weeks to deliver. The administrative overhead involved in purchasing
cycles cost us a great deal of time and money. We also wanted to reduce the time required by our IT staff to manage critical applications, while implementing new disaster recovery and backup plans.”
The overall aim was to lower the total cost of ownership and future proof the network through virtualization, cutting the need for new hardware purchases. Environmental sustainability was another driver. “Our aim was to have the first green IT data center
in the public sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” says Bakhashwain.
When the data center transformation project began in 2009, Saudi Post was running a mixture of Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems. The organization considered using VMware for virtualization, but found Microsoft more competitive
on price, offering easy integration and openness to interoperate with the corporation’s existing IT assets and technologies.
Microsoft virtualization technology is cross platform from the metal up. It is capable of monitoring a broad set of operating systems and development environments, while managing multiple hypervisors from a signal pane across multiple original equipment
To collect performance data, Saudi Post and Microsoft monitored the physical servers for two weeks. Microsoft Gold Partner Netways developed the solution architecture and also delivered training to the in-house team.
Saudi Post upgraded its Microsoft operating systems to Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V virtualization technology, making use of its existing Microsoft Enterprise Agreement for low-cost volume licensing of software. On the Windows Server 2008 R2 platform,
Saudi Post implemented the latest Microsoft System Center suite of management products, including Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 for improved data center management and performance monitoring. Taking advantage of the platform’s openness,
the plan is to use the virtualization stack to virtualize different workloads from multiple technology vendors. For example, one of the business critical workloads, Oracle ERP, is moving onto it.
Nasser Farhat, Operations Manager, Netways, says: “Collaboration between Netways and various departments at Saudi Post was the key to ensuring successful delivery of the virtualization project.”
Although cross-site disaster recovery was not a contractual requirement, the solution designed by Netways has inherent resilience to help ensure business continuity.
For enhanced security, Saudi Post deployed Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010. This employs disk, tape, and cloud-based repositories to deliver an easy-to-use backup and recovery solution for Windows environments.
The new environmentally sustainable private cloud will help reduce operating costs by more than 50 per cent with improved manageability from the System Center suite of products. With its familiar, highly integrated tools and interfaces, Hyper-V provided
the right business fit for Saudi Post. The organization plans to upgrade to Microsoft System Center 2012 to make better use of the enhanced cloud computing capabilities.
Private Cloud results in around 50 per cent reduction in support costs. Bakhashwain says: “The previous data center cost significant amounts of our budget to operate. With the Private Cloud we expect to reduce these overheads by more than
50 per cent.”
Server consolidation cuts physical servers from 150 to 32. With 90 per cent of the server consolidation work completed, Saudi Post has virtualized its estate from more than 150 physical servers to just 32. And, through the System Center
product suite, it has improved management and monitoring. Bakhashwain says: “We will make significant further savings on hardware costs when provisioning new applications to support expansion of our business.”
Saudi Post inaugurates first green data center in Saudi Arabia public sector. The organization’s vision was for an energy-efficient data center with reduced electricity costs especially in powering air conditioning to cool the physical servers.
Bakhashwain says: “We’re proud to have taken the first step towards a green data center for the public sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Organization focuses on upgrade to System Center 2012. In addition to building a separate disaster recovery site in 2012, Saudi Post is planning to upgrade to System Center 2012. Bakhashwain says: “We want to partner with Netways to improve
business agility and enhance resilience further with System Center 2012, taking full advantage of the new private cloud capabilities being introduced.”
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