Ferrotec Modernizes Server Environment with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

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August 2, 2012

Ferrotec needed to migrate to a powerful, scalable, mission-critical IT infrastructure. With Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization at the core of its infrastructure, the company has increased scalability, flexibility, and provisioning of high-performance infrastructure.

Customer: Ferrotec

“The virtualized infrastructure with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization core components ensures that we don’t have to make compromises between performance, flexibility, and administrative requirements.” - Joachim Schwender, head of IT at Ferrotec

Industry: Manufacturing
Geography: EMEA
Country: Germany


Business Challenge:

Ferrotec needed to migrate to a powerful, scalable, mission-critical IT infrastructure.

Migration Path:

Windows Server 2003 and Debian to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

Hardware:

Cisco UCS C200 rack systems, each with 48 GB RAM, two Intel Xeon X5675 processors (six processor cores, twelve threads, 3.06GHz), and a 500 GB hard drive

Benefits:

With Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization at the core of its infrastructure, the company has increased scalability, flexibility, and provisioning of high-performance infrastructure while lowering operating costs.

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Background:

Ferrotec GmbH, located in the southern German town of Unterensingen, is a DIN EN ISO 9001 certified company specializing in innovative components for vacuum and thin-film technology. With headquarters in Japan, The Ferrotec Group has a large footprint in Asia as well as a large European presence in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK. The Group has global revenues of $560 million and employs more than 1,800 team members. In addition to its own products, in Europe Ferrotec exclusively sells goods that are made by its subsidiary companies, as well as a goods manufactured by an American firm. Ferrotec Group’s global presence supports customers all over the world. Ferrotec is recognized as a global market leader in all technologies based on Ferrofluid, a magnetic liquid. These types of products include Ferrofluidic® sealing technology and Ferrosound audio applications, which are used in multi-phase motors, dampers for shaft ends, and transformer cooling. Over the years, Ferrotec’s business has been expanding, with production increasing especially over the past five years. Due to the company’s growth and additional business requirements, Ferrotec’s IT infrastructure also grew, leading to the purchase of new servers and an increase in memory capacity. As a result, there was a proliferation of various systems that often reached their maximum performance limits. While the company’s IT infrastructure increased, there was no comparable growth in personnel resources, and Ferrotec wanted to stay true to its business objective of maintaining its existing systems without an increase in IT staff. As the company’s IT systems reached their limits, performance began to decrease, which propelled the need for a modern technology infrastructure that could keep up with business demands.

Business Challenge:

Fundamental modernization to a virtualized infrastructure
When Ferrotec decided to start over with new servers in mid-2011, its legacy systems were about five years old. Ten physical servers were running partially on Windows Server 2003 and Debian, with a migration to Red Hat Enterprise Linux in the process. “The IT infrastructure could only be administrated with major effort. It wasn’t enough to just replace individual servers for a new start,” said Joachim Schwender, head of IT at Ferrotec. “The IT team, together with management, decided to go for a fundamental modernization and transition to a virtualized infrastructure.”

Ferrotec assessed possible alternative solutions together with GONICUS, an IT service provider out of Arnsberg, Germany that has been working for Ferrotec for many years. GONICUS, a Red Hat Advanced Partner, specializes in infrastructure and virtualization strategy and is one of the largest independent service providers for open source software in Germany.

As Ferrotec began planning its migration strategy, one of the critical requirements for the new infrastructure was to continue the existing installation based on Linux. Therefore, the organization began seeking a solution that would meet the particular needs of a small-to-medium sized business. Ferrotec found what it was looking for from OpenV3 from Magirus, one of Europe’s leading providers of IT solutions and a value-added distributor of Red Hat, based in Stuttgart. OpenV3 includes solutions from Cisco, EMC, and Red Hat in a best-of-breed strategy that combines into an infrastructure package that can be implemented rapidly. “We now have a fully functional datacenter with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization at its core with OpenV3,” said Schwender. “When analyzing the market, we also looked at other virtualization alternatives, but thanks to high performance, the enterprise management feature set, and low TCO, we selected Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.”

GONICUS provided Ferrotec with a complete package solution that includes server, network, memory, and administration software. An important advantage Ferrotec recognized was that their subscription is calculated per system, not on a processor basis as is the case with several other virtualization products. The OpenV3 solution consists of the following components: two Cisco UCS C200 rack systems, each with 48 GB RAM, two Intel Xeon X5675 processors (six processor cores, 12 threads, 3.06 GHz), and a 500 GB hard drive, with both servers running Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. There are also two Cisco Catalyst 2960S switches for fully redundant networking of the systems, as well as an EMC VNXe3100 storage system with a total of twelve 600GB SAS hard drives.

Two new Cisco servers replaced a total of seven old physical systems, reducing 10 servers to only five. Three existing servers are still used as physical servers for special applications. There are a total of eight virtual machines running on the two Cisco servers, including the ERP software ABAS. This is used in the purchasing/sales, warehousing, production, and accounting departments, and as a VPN connection to European subsidiaries. This new IT infrastructure has enabled Ferrotec to map all critical business processes in a highly reliable and flexible manner.

Benefits:

Red Hat helps Ferrotec prepare for future success
Ferrotec’s new IT infrastructure has reaped several important benefits such as administration, maintenance, service, especially when compared to the old, heterogeneous infrastructure. By consolidating its server landscape, Ferrotec is anticipating lower operating costs, as the same number of staff can supervise a larger number of systems and applications.

The fact that all existing virtualization-ready applications could be seamlessly transferred was also a very positive feature. Whenever a specialized team or management wants a new application, the IT department now can easily satisfy their requirements with another virtual machine. The implemented solution enables the setup of up to 20 virtual machines, all without incurring additional subscription fees
for the virtualization.

The enterprise management capabilities of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager have been critical to increasing personnel productivity, enabling Ferrotec to modernize and expand its infrastructure without increasing its IT staff. The graphical administration console is straight forward, intuitive, and easy-to-use, providing a single pane of glass to manage their entire virtualized infrastructure. The
features such as live migration, workload balancing, and high availability have allowed Ferrotec to more fully utilize its new IT infrastructure while improving system availability and overall business continuity.

Ferrotec is now seeing the best IT performance in years. Although its existing main memory is sufficient for now, Ferrotec is expecting to upgrade its memory capacity in the next year in accordance with increasing demand.

“Our virtualized infrastructure with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization core components ensures that we don’t have to make compromises between performance, flexibility, and administration requirements. The revitalization of our IT operations has made us more prepared and secure for our future,” said Schwender.

 

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