Global manufacturer Arabian United Float Glass Company (AUFGC) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wanted to improve manageability and reduce operating costs for its IT infrastructure. The Yanbu-based company-which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week-deployed the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V virtualization technology and the Microsoft System Center suite of management products to centralize management and monitoring. The solution has transformed the data center at AUFGC, helping ensure high availability of its business-critical applications. With Hyper-V software, AUFGC consolidated its server estate with zero downtime. The dynamic data center will reduce operating costs by up to 40 per cent compared to its previous-largely manual-operations management processes, which used just physical servers.
Arabian United Float Glass Company (AUFGC), which was founded in 2006 by leading corporate investors in Saudi Arabia, was the first independent float glass production line in the Middle East and Africa. Since 2009, the factory has manufactured 600 tons of high-quality float glass a day.
Using state-of-the-art technology helps the Yanbu-based firm on the Red Sea coast manufacture glass to architectural or automotive quality. The company uses technology from the world's leading suppliers to the float glass industry, and its output supplies both the domestic Saudi and export markets.
Saudi industry works to the highest standards-and AUFGC is no exception. It remains competitive in global markets by supporting a round-the-clock manufacturing operation with a modern IT infrastructure at its Yanbu plant and Riyadh office. In line with other world-class manufacturers, AUFGC wanted to transform its standard data center to a dynamic data center to reduce costs, improve environmental sustainability through server consolidation, and automate performance monitoring.
Naif Talal Mulaeb, IT Manager, Arabian United Float Glass Company, says: "To make our company more competitive and reduce the risk of downtime, we wanted to consolidate and virtualize our server infrastructure. We saw this as a way to enhance manageability while implementing new disaster recovery and backup plans."
AUFGC needed better controls over its inventory of software and hardware. In addition, it wanted to reduce the time spent by its IT staff monitoring and managing critical applications, including Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 software, which was first deployed in 2009 to support manufacturing.
Working with Microsoft Partner Networks Connection, AUFGC migrated its existing Windows Small Business Server 2003 operating system to Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise with Hyper-V virtualization technology.
On this infrastructure, the company implemented the Microsoft System Center suite of products together with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. The latter two products replaced earlier versions of Microsoft software. Exchange Server 2010 gives AUFGC its database availability group feature, which ensures automatic recovery for mailbox databases.
For improved security, AUFGC implemented Microsoft Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server and Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010, using disk, tape, and cloud-based repositories to deliver a backup and recovery solution for Windows environments.
Mazen Ektifan, System Consultant at Networks Connection, says: "The solution build was based on a three-node Hyper-V failover cluster core installation for maximum security. It hosts both the physical and virtual servers-around 90 per cent of the total estate."
The deployment took around 14 days, including the introduction of the System Center suite to manage and deploy alert and backup servers and clients. Mulaeb says: "There was no downtime during the deployment, which saw live migration of database and enterprise resource planning applications from physical to virtual servers. Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 played a major role in reducing our estate to just 16 physical servers."
Although AUFGC is planning to build a separate disaster recovery site in 2012, it is already satisfied with the much higher level of security through the Microsoft System Center suite.
AUFGC is now supporting its round-the-clock production environment with a secure, highly available, and scalable infrastructure that's helping to ensure business continuity for the manufacturing plant. While consolidating its servers through virtualization to reduce operating costs, the company has also invested in the System Center suite of products to cut manual processes and free IT staff for higher value work. The new dynamic data center at Yanbu is environmentally sustainable with low energy consumption and will result in reduced hardware costs as applications are added.
Operating Costs Fall by Around 40 Per Cent after Virtualization
Together, virtualization and automation with Hyper-V and the System Center suite of products have improved resilience while lowering operating costs. Mulaeb says: "We'll cut operating costs by between 30 and 40 per cent with Hyper-V. This will be achieved mainly through reduced energy consumption for data center air-conditioning and increased automation of business processes."
Dynamic Data Center Ensures High Availability of Critical Applications
The upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 with failover clustering and increased security through Forefront Protection for Exchange Server and other security enhancements is ensuring maximum uptime. The risk of lost mailbox data has been mitigated through the database availability group feature of Exchange Server 2010. Mulaeb says: "We're a manufacturing plant that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so high availability is essential for us."
System Center Suite Improves Control of Inventories
Previously, the in-house IT team updated software manually and found it a challenge to maintain accurate records of both software and hardware in use across the company. This gave rise to concerns about compliance with licensing and the risk of employees using unauthorized software.
Mulaeb says: "Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 easily manages large groups of Windows-based computer systems. It allows us to remotely manage software updates and operating system deployments."
Increased Self-Service Relieves Pressure on IT Team
With the System Center suite of products in place, users at AUFGC can make self-service requests for support without having to contact the IT team in person or by email message.
As a result, productivity in the IT team has increased, especially through reduced calls outside normal office hours. Technicians now have more time for higher value proactive work instead of reacting to user requests. Mulaeb says: "We're no longer firefighting in the data center. Instead, we have the time to handle higher value work to improve the company's competitiveness and help realize its business objectives."
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