How server virtualization helps Perfetti save and go green

Growing business needs compelled Perfetti Van Melle to seek out server virtualization. Its only stipulation: Project should be green and provide savings.

This is the story of how Perfetti Van Melle India Pvt Ltd (PVM) adopted server virtualization to its benefit. PVM, a subsidiary of the global conglomerate, was set up in 1994 with the Center Fresh brand, now has 13 brands. When escalating business growth needed more IT support, PVM opted for server virtualization, storage and hardware migration.

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As Basant Chaturvedi, the head of IT for PVM says, "We pooled and shared IT resources to meet our needs. Thus, our IT infrastructure is very adaptive."

The question of assessing vendors for server virtualization did not arise, as the company already had VMware in mind. "At that point in time, VMware was the leading player in features, right from manageability to scalability. In 2006-07, Microsoft still needed to hone its features, and Citrix made its entry only in 2009. VMware came in as the only mature player to handle our requirement," says Chaturvedi. With HP as the implementation partner, it took a month before PVM went live with its server virtualization initiative.

PVM's hardware platform is dependent on HP blade servers (chassis-based HP ProLiant BL460c servers). These servers have a combination of double and single Quadcore processors. Chaturvedi says, "Blades help reduce space drastically." Prior to blade servers, PVM used HP Proliant 350 G2 and G3 legacy servers, which did not serve the purpose of an ever-increasing business.

Early on the road to server virtualization, PVM had 16 servers integrated into three blade servers. Now it has 40 virtual machines running on six blade servers. Of the 16 blade chassis, PVM utilizes only seven. An additional blade server acts as the central manager. All the blade servers are connected through a LAN. Apart from SAP, PVM has all its other applications (mailing, Microsoft SharePoint portal, and unified communications) running on this virtual environment.

In praise of virtualization

PVM is happy with all the savings it can make on all aspects. The company is happy that it saves on power and cooling when it opted for server virtualization and blade servers. Chaturvedi says, "A blade server costs approximately around Rs 4 lakh, and a VMware environment around Rs 1.75 lakh. Considering that an ML360 generation server will cost around Rs 1.75 lakh, savings on your initial investment is Rs 3.3 million, if you go in for 40 servers."

Through a power saving calculation available on the HP website, Chaturvedi calculates that a normal rack-mountable server consumes around 61 kW of power. Considering that PVM is paying a rate of Rs 8 per kW, their consumption is Rs 4,01,072 per annum. The deployment of blade servers has brought down the consumption to Rs 2.74 lakh per annum.

In terms of maintenance, PVM now makes do with only three administrators. VMware center monitors its products otherwise too. Its desktop virtualization of 30 clients is managed through a few virtual machines on ESX using Citrix Xenserver. PVM's own monitoring mechanism calls for the physical checking of these servers (network, logs, memory utilization, CPU utilization, average disk usage, and monitoring backup). This has to be done properly, otherwise data recovery cannot happen effectively.

Chaturvedi says, "Virtualization is no doubt a green technology. The RoI is good. When everything is centralized, there is a faster response time and improved service levels."

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