IIHT started with the prime focus on creating a cloud platform to cater to the complex needs of IT training, testing, and the software development industry. To be competitive, it needed a high-performance, cost-effective infrastructure, on which
the solution’s merits could be showcased. It took advantage of the latest improvements in the Windows Server 2012 operating system and Hyper-V virtualization technology. The private cloud environment allows partners to access high performance infrastructure
centrally, from anywhere, anytime. It provides higher virtualization density, reduces server footprint, and simplifies IT management. IIHT expects to reduce server costs by 40 percent. It can now handle an increased workload with far greater efficiency.
||We went an extra mile to get better density and a reliable compute environment, with the flexibility to meet fluctuations in demand. We expect to provision more workloads far more quickly with Windows Server 2012.
| Shivajee R Sharma
President and Chief Information Officer, IIHT
IIHT is amongst Asia's top IT training organizations. It started operations in 1993 and has continued to grow exponentially since then. IIHT's business has grown at 40 percent CAGR year after year. As a result, some of the renowned Fortune 100 organizations
rely on IIHT for catering to their manpower requirements. IIHT, a pioneer in the IT Infrastructure Management Services training industry, today, is spread across 17 countries with over 200 centers across India and about 23 centers outside India.
IIHT provides skilled manpower in the areas of hardware, networking, database management, security and storage management. It has partnered with organizations like Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Symantec, EMC and others to provide students with precise technical
skills and knowledge. IIHT's students include those studying in the 10th or 12th standard or those pursuing/completed graduation, as well as corporate and professional clients.
In the fast pace world of changing IT scenarios and increasingly demanding customers, the challenge is not in finding skilled solution experts but the availability of high performance, cost-effective infrastructure on which a solution’s merits can be showcased.
IIHT has accumulated goodwill over the years by teaching students the latest technology advancements in the industry. Keshav Raju, CMD, IIHT says, “However, to maintain this goodwill we always have to take a step forward with our curricula. And that is where
our challenges come in.”
The IT training, testing, and development segment always needed a larger computing infrastructure than the production environment, with a complete control over compute, storage, and network components of the infrastructure. Most software architectures, including
operating systems and applications, evolve every few years, demanding a change of hardware across centers. This also happens each time the course curriculum is upgraded. Shivajee R Sharma, President and CIO, IIHT says, “These upgrades take time due to the
high investment required. Partners want to wait and watch to get an idea of the demand before committing to an upgrade.”
Another issue was cost. Having to upgrade all hardware according to the required specifications across all partner networks was a CAPEX (capital expenditure) challenge, which partners were not ready to invest in.
“We came up with the idea of remote labs but even there we had the challenges of manually provisioning the lab,” explains Shivajee. “We then thought of cloud services. We realized that a cloud environment could help us deliver favorable partner experiences
while also maintaining growth.”
In 2010, IIHT decided to test some of the public clouds available in the market. But the company soon realized that the offerings of almost all of the cloud providers did not fit the complex requirements of IIHT. Control over compute and storage was just
not enough to deliver the training in the IT infrastructure management domain. “This limitation was obstructing us from teaching all features in a technology,” explains Shivajee. “We had similar challenges with almost all the curricula and that’s when we decided
to build our own infrastructure.”
IIHT incubated IIHT Cloud Solutions (ICS) Pvt Ltd, a pioneer in cloud solutions, high performance computing (HPC), scale-out storage, and in-place IT infrastructure management solutions. It was started to develop a cloud fabric catering to this demand.
||By increasing our virtual machine density, we decrease all the associated power, cooling, and management costs. In all, it means a 40 percent decrease in server costs.
| Shivajee R Sharma
President and CIO, IIHT
Taking advantage of the captive customer base of IIHT, ICS created a very high- performance unique cloud service delivery platform using Microsoft technologies. It used the Windows Server 2012 operating system with Hyper-V and the Microsoft System Center suite.
“From a licensing perspective, Microsoft was a perfect fit,” says Shivajee. “Plus, the heavy integration with the workloads we were trying to run was only offered by Microsoft. We got the flexibility to build a solution.”
IIHT already had an internal customer base when it built this infrastructure. Shivajee says, “We didn’t have to sell them the cloud. Since the partner is using our infrastructure to deliver the training, it was part and parcel of their adoption.” He continues,
“This has allowed us to literally launch any curriculum overnight. For example, the Windows Server 2012 curriculum is just out in the market and we have already made it available. This, otherwise, would have taken us one and a half years.”
The unique cloud fabric called iTopology has not only simplified the visualization of connected virtual infrastructure but also given complete control of virtual compute, storage, and network environment in the cloud. The fabric allowed ICS to offer Virtual
Data Centers to its subscriber rather than just virtual machines and storage like other cloud service providers.
Shivajee explains, “You can click and drag virtual machines, switches, and connect them dynamically. The whole thing is live and these are active machines, which are provisioned as you draw them.”
The first phase of iTopology cloud platform consists of about 300 blade servers, about 160 1 GB switches, and about seven 40 GB switches. Currently, IIHT is on the Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA), which allows it to declare every month
how much is being consumed and then pay accordingly.
IIHT has also deployed Microsoft System Center 2012 and is using it to construct a cohesive cloud computing fabric structure from its virtualized infrastructure. System Center 2012 is a multifaceted product that enables highly automated provisioning, monitoring,
and management of private cloud environments through a single console. IIHT uses Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2012 to monitor its servers, both physical and virtual, and their application workloads. It also uses Microsoft System Center Orchestrator
2012 to automate this process.
Leveraging the expertise of traditional data center service providers, IIHT Cloud Solutions partnered with SIS and BSNL to host its cloud infrastructure in a Tier 3 data center in Bengaluru. It is currently evaluating various premium telecom service providers
to build a MPLS network across its centers for a seamless virtual data center experience.
The iTopology cloud platform went online in October 2012 and till date it serves about 900 students. It is still under internal usage as the platform has not been made public yet. It is only being used by government organizations in Geomax, Telecom OSS testing
companies, individual students, and some Fortune 500 companies.
IIHT has already begun to see benefits, and anticipates more from its new model. With Windows Server 2012, IIHT is able to create a platform which leverages cloud computing technology to create a high business impact.
Establishes New Business Model
With the iTopology cloud fabric and unique cloud service offerings, ICS currently is the world’s first IaaS cloud, catering to the complex infrastructure needs of IT training, testing, and the software development industry. “A huge benefit is that it offers
Virtual Data Center as service and allows complete access to the virtual network fabric,” says Keshav. “Enabling instant knowledge sharing with iTopology canvases, it provides an instant proof-of-concept platform to ISVs.”
Increases Density, Reduces Footprint
IIHT is benefiting from increased virtual machine density and performance in Windows Server 2012. The private cloud environment consists of about 12,000 virtual machines across 300 blade servers. These blades have a minimal footprint and require only about
11 half racks. “We always wanted a pure virtualized infrastructure,” says Shivajee. “We went an extra mile to get better density and a reliable compute environment, with the flexibility to meet fluctuations in demand. We expect to provision more workloads
far more quickly with Windows Server 2012.”
Reduces Server Related Costs by 40 Percent
IIHT is able to reduce server costs by upgrading to Windows Server 2012. “Blade servers gave us both lower cost and configuration efficiency,” says Shivajee. “They take up less space, power is very efficient, and our physical cabling also reduces. By
increasing our virtual machine density, we decrease all the associated power, cooling, and management costs. In all, it means a 40 percent decrease in server costs.”
Enables Internal Customer Focus on Solution
With this solution, customers looked at the price benefit and the experience IIHT had to offer. The infrastructure gave them 24x7 access to curricula, which was more meaningful for them and they saw a value add. The platform also gave them the ability to
scale on demand. Accordingly, it gave them flexibility in the payment schedule. “With Microsoft private cloud technology, partners got a quality infrastructure, which allowed them to focus purely on the training and deliver any curriculum from the catalog
within five minutes,” says Shivajee.
Provisions Servers Instantly
Provisioning customer requests is no longer a time consuming task. Now, cloud fabric implementation per student for learning infrastructure can be provisioned and can be scaled up and down as per customer demand, which was not possible earlier. Shivajee
says, “In our new environment, we are instantly provisioning servers whenever needed for new or expanded requirements. The faster we do so, the faster we can demonstrate our progress.”
Windows Server 2012
Windows Server drives many of the world’s largest data centers, empowers small businesses around the world, and delivers value to organizations of all sizes in between. Building on this legacy, Windows Server 2012 redefines the category, delivering hundreds
of new features and enhancements that span virtualization, networking, storage, user experience, cloud computing, automation, and more. Simply put, Windows Server 2012 helps you transform your IT operations to reduce costs and deliver a whole new level of
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