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Hidroconstructia Modernizes and Consolidates IT Infrastructure with Red Hat Solutions
November 21, 2013
Hidroconstructia, a large Romanian construction company, wanted to modernize its legacy infrastructure and build a stable, secure, and scalable platform.
“Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization provided the stability, reliability, and flexibility we were looking for at about 60% lower costs compared with its closest competitor.” - Silviu Popa, IT director, Hidroconstructia
Hidroconstructia, one of the largest construction companies in Romania, needed to reduce the complexity and costs of its IT infrastructure while increasing its efficiency and stability.
Hidroconstructia migrated from an aging Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise, Novell NetWare and Microsoft Windows environment to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.
IBM BladeCenter® servers, HP servers
By migrating from a physical server environment running Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise, Novell NetWare, and Microsoft Windows to Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, the company achieved improved performance and availability of its IT infrastructure, while reducing its server footprint and maintenance costs.
Hidroconstructia is one of the largest construction companies in Romania, with branches in Germany, Belgium, Finland and Iraq, 11 locations in Romania, and ongoing projects in multiple construction sites. Initially specialized in hydropower and hydrotechnic construction, the company has diversified its activities to include a wide range of construction works such as civil and industrial works, roads and bridges, edilitary works, land reclamation works, and the repairment of plants and metal structures.
The need to modernize and consolidate a legacy IT infrastructure
Changing market dynamics in the construction industry demand more agile approaches and increased efforts to keep costs down. Hidroconstructia, one of the largest construction companies in Romania, needed to reduce the complexity and costs of its IT infrastructure while increasing its efficiency and stability.
The company was using an inflexible legacy infrastructure, based on physical servers running a mix of Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise, Novell NetWare, and Microsft Windows software. With more than 4,000 employees, 800 active computers, and multiple construction sites, Hidroconstructia wanted to ensure that its IT systems could provide the required support for its core business.
In order to meet specific operational and communication demands, the company developed its own management information system (SIH), a complex application suite that requires significant resources and a stable infrastructure.
“Our server footprint, application volume, and overall load were increasing while management tools remained the same,” said Silviu Popa, IT director, Hidroconstructia. “At the same time, using different operating systems hindered some tasks and functions.”
As Hidroconstructia gradually introduced core business systems such as ERP, CRM, invoicing, and project management systems, which were added to the SIH, the company, began to experience server sprawl and its associated electricity and infrastructure management costs.
“Each application required a new server, which meant a new operating system,” said Popa. “We had several server, storage, and application pools that were scattered making the infrasturcture difficult to manage. Whenever there was a problem, it took too many people to identify and solve it.”
The company needed to build a stable and efficient virtualization platform that ensured centralized management, while taking full advantage of existing IT resources.
Stability and efficiency
Spearhead Systems, a Red Hat Advanced Business Partner based in Bucharest that specializes in IT infrastructure and virtualization, analyzed the existing infrastructure challenges and identified the solution. As a long-term partner of Hidroconstructia, Spearhead Systems was aware of the increasing challenges faced by the company and proposed hardware and operating system standardization.
The decision was made to standardize on Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the operating system. The first step was the consolidation of key servers on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Hidroconstructia experienced the benefits of an effective, secure, high-performing, and stable operating system, as well as the technical and financial advantages of a future-proof open source solution.
As a next step, Spearhead Systems recommended to consolidate the entire infrastructure using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. A Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization demonstration showed how the company’s servers could be consolidated and managed from one management console. Other benefits of the solution included easier backup and more flexible resources, enabling high availability and disaster recovery.
Hidroconstructia also evaluated other virtualization solutions, including VMware vSphere 5 and Citrix XenServer. But the costs, as well as the level of expertise required to manage a VMware environment, proved too high and the company selected to instead standardize on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.
“Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization provided the stability, reliability, and flexibility we were looking for at about 60% lower costs compared with its closest competitor,” said Popa. “With this solution, we built the best IT environment for our operations and are now ready for future IT challenges.”
With Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, seven physical servers were consolidated to three servers, ensuring higher operational efficiency and performance, while significantly reducing power consumption and maintenance costs. The new infrastructure also provides high availability of business-critical applications and uptime of 99% while infrastructure management, operation, and maintenance were simplified.
“Now, we can easily create snapshots of virtual machines, clone and move them, create testing environments, perform testing, and move them to production,” said Popa. “It is a very smooth process.”
A centralized environment
Choosing an open source solution was an easy decision according to Popa. After having evaluated several proprietary solutions, the company found that migrating to Red Hat solutions provided the most benefits.
“We wanted to avoid single vendor lock-in and the rising costs of proprietary solutions,” said Popa. “With Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, we’re able to experience both the benefits of virtualization as a technology and the advantages of open source in order to achieve higher cost effectiveness.”
Before the deployment, the company’s IT environment consisted of small, disparate systems. As a company with ongoing projects in multiple construction sites, Hidroconstructia needed to operate in a centralized environment.
“It is much easier to communicate and collaborate when everything is centralized through one system,” said Popa. “Because the servers are consolidated, we no longer manage them separately in multiple locations. This is a great benefit.”
As a non-IT company, Hidroconstructia wanted to be able to focus on its core business—delivering construction projects on time and within budget—and needed a solution that was easy to deploy and run. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization provided a web-based management system and intuitive user interface.
“Compared to other solutions, the learning curve is much shorter with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization,” said Popa.
Security and peace of mind
Security and confidentiality of data are also essential for Hidroconstructia’s success. SELinux and sVirt, the security components integrated within the Red Hat solutions, were very well received by the company. “It is very reassuring to know that if a virtual machine is compromised, the threat will be contained in the respective machine and will not reach the rest of the infrastructure,” said Popa.
Prior to migrating to Red Hat solutions, the company experienced difficulties with its development and testing environment. “Before, we had to configure a physical server, integrate it into a network and then start the testing process,” said Popa. “Now, with virtual resources, we can clone and copy them, which significantly improves these processes.”
Ready for the future
Following the deployment of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, the company continued to consolidate its infrastructure, which today consists of 15 servers and a software environment that includes Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Oracle MySQL, and Windows Server 2008 R2. All of Hidroconstructia’s infrastructure services were or are currently being migrated to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the company’s private cloud has transformed the way new services are delivered. The company looks to the future with the certainty that its infrastructure is now flexible enough to meet future IT challenges.
“Our platform has been stable for two years and there have been no incidents since the initial deployment in 2011,” said Popa. “With Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, our IT infrastructure is equipped for the future. Our private cloud now enables us to easily deliver new services internally and to our partners in a seamless fashion.”
Hidroconstructia’s plans for the future include an upgrade of the existing back-up center to a disaster recovery site based on Red Hat solutions and virtualization of its desktop environment, following a hardware consolidation.
“We are looking at streamlining the delivery of desktop services to our 800 active computer users and thanks to Red Hat, a virtual desktop infrastructure is now a viable option,” said Popa.