JSW S.A. Improves Security and Resource Utilization with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops

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March 29, 2012

Jastrzebska Coal Company wanted to increase its IT infrastructure, improve network reliability, and reduce the risk of possible intrusions and data theft, all while improving desktop management and increasing access flexibility to critical business applications.

Customer: Advicom

“Performance of Red Hat SPICE protocol in our tests was so exceptional that it blew away the competitors.” Artur Bajor, Project Manager, Advicom

Geography: EMEA
Business Challenge:

Jastrzebska Coal Company wanted to increase its IT infrastructure, improve network reliability, and reduce the risk of possible intrusions and data theft, all while improving desktop management and increasing access flexibility to critical business applications.

Software:

Red Hat® Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops

Hardware:

REV HP DL360G6, NetApp FAS2040 storage array, HP t5745 thin clients. Currently, 20 host servers are operational with each handling approximately 40 virtual machines. An additional 10 host servers are planned for implementation in 2012.

Benefits:

Improved security and compliance by eliminating the risk of data loss as well as data transmission interception between a computer and the datacenter; maximized resources utilization and faster adaptation to the business needs by eliminating dependencies between the hardware and operating system; rapid creation and provisioning of new desktop environments.

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Background:

Jastrzebska Spółka Weglowa S.A. (JSW S.A.) is the largest producer of hard-coking coal in the European Union. Today, the company has documented reserves of almost 515 million tonnes of coal, with plans to expand those reserves to 930 million tonnes. They currently hold shares in more than 30 companies, which equates to a total of more than 25,000 employees worldwide. Advicom company Ltd. was founded in 1998, and was established on the basis of the information services of Jastrzebska Coal Company Joint Venture, as a result of restructuring of the Polish mining industry. From the beginning, the company has been performing the tasks associated with comprehensive IT support for large and medium companies in southern Poland. The company’s key client is Jastrzebska Coal Company Joint Venture. Since June 2009, Advicom Ltd. belongs to the JSW Group and carries out tasks related to the construction and operation of a coherent system for all the JSW Group.

Business Challenge:

The network model previously used in the JSW S.A. plants involved several computers acting as file servers, storing all applications and data. Users were expected to download the required resources from those servers and use them to store data. The incumbent solution, where a network built of typical desktop PC workstations connected to a server, allowed users to store and process data locally. Along with its limited benefits, this process created a potential security vulnerability for JSW S.A.

“Computers with their own resources do not always oblige users to utilize server’s resources. For some people, it is natural to store some data and utilities on their local disks, not to mention the fact that external drives encourage them to bring their own software from home and install it on their work computers,” said Artur Bajor, project manager, Advicom. Such behaviors were adversely affecting the security of the entire IT infrastructure at JSW S.A . “Elimination of this threat, along with the risk of possible intrusions and theft of confidential data, plus the improvement of the whole network, became the organization’s goal. This challenge was accompanied by the need for cost and operational efficiency and flexibility,” said Bajor.

Amidst these challenges, Advicom established the criteria to determine a new solution for implementation into the organization’s IT network. The new solution would be focused on state-of-the-art multimedia and video playback performance, re-direction of USB devices, and an option for using proximity cards. Key to the entire project’s success was also the possibility to use open source Linux-based clients, which guaranteed lower costs for client devices, including the option for low-cost thin-client terminals. “We could not afford to risk the integrity of the organization’s computer network. We needed an exceptional and powerful IT infrastructure that would eliminate those risk factors. So, we looked for a cost-effective and reliable solution based on an open protocol,” said Bajor.

Solution:

In its quest to select a solution that would meet all of its criteria and deliver the results sought by JSW S.A., Advicom Ltd. carried out an assessment of virtualization-based products and solutions offered by multiple vendors, including Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, Quest, Ericom, and Red Hat.

“During the evaluation process, the most important features that the perfect solution had to possess were an open protocol, access to client source code, and the ability to integrate with the company’s custom Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) contactless cards login solutions, along with specific requirements from a desktop connection broker,” said Bajor. “Due to poor multimedia playback performance and complete lack of support for USB device redirection, the evaluated solutions offered by Microsoft and Ericom were flatly rejected. With Quest and Citrix, multimedia acceleration was dependent on the specific application used, as well as limited to Windows-based client terminals only, which also didn’t fit within our criteria,” said Bajor.

The final evaluation process illustrated that solutions from both VMware and Red Hat applied very similar methods of sending images to a terminal. Both the PCoIP protocol from VMware and the SPICE protocol from Red Hat ensured high quality of transmitted images regardless of the operating system or the applications in use. Both solutions enabled USB device redirection and bidirectional audio transmission.But multi-media acceleration for the PCoIP protocol from VMware was available only in a Windows-based terminal.

“Performance of the Red Hat SPICE protocol in our tests was so exceptional that it blew away the competitors. Also, in December 2009, Red Hat open sourced the SPICE protocol, which made it possible to customize the solution and add support for proximity cards to authorize users when logging in. Finally, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops was the clear winner in a comparison of license costs when analyzed next to VMware,” said Bajor.

After consulting B2B Sp. z o.o., a Red Hat Authorized Distributor, the decision was made to base the final solution on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops. With Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops, JSW S.A. would significantly lower purchase and licensing costs, provide access from Linux-based terminals, gain the advantages of an open source solution, and have guaranteed support for both Linux and Microsoft Windows operating platforms.

The goal of the project was to retire the typical desktop PC workstations, replace them with cost-effective thin client terminals, and migrate their desktop operating environments to virtual machines running in a server room. With Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops, the organization deployed physical servers with the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor installed locally to host the virtual desktops.

The Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor is a streamlined (about 100 MB) and very powerful platform, based on the high-performing kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) technology. Operations of this server group are managed by the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager, which exclusively controls the entire infrastructure of hosts, virtual machines, and more. Since the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager can be deployed as a virtual machine itself, the purchase of a physical machine was not required. The server image was mounted in a pre-allocated space on the NetApp array.

“Thanks to the flexibility of open source, we were able to make several customizations to the final implemented solution, in order to better meet our requirements,” said Bajor. “And, since the solution was easily integrated with our existing infrastructure, no additional hardware purchases were required.”

“The powerful SPICE protocol offers compatibility with thin-client terminals and provides users the same experience as working on a regular desktop PC. Additionally, user authorization was achieved by using Mifare proximity cards,” said Bajor. “The solution’s goal is to display a system login window on a user’s terminal, authorize a user, assign a proper virtual machine to a user, and pass virtual machine login parameters to the terminal, at the same time providing single sign-on functionality.

Customizations that were implemented also handle password changes and enable users to authorize the use of proximity cards. “The total implementation time of the first phase of this project--including the evaluation process, solution integration, and testing--took approximately six months. The results were an initial deployment of 600 users across 20 Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops host servers. Now that the initial integration process has completed, scaling upwards will be much easier. In 2012, an additional 10 host servers will be added to support an additional 200 users, with plans to grow to over 3,000 users. By selecting Red Hat technology, JSW S.A. has future-proofed its investments and ensured that IT maintenance costs remain low. With Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops implemented, the company can freely plan its future,” said Bajor.

Benefits:

Since deploying Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops, JSW S.A. has experienced significantly improved security and compliance. “We have eliminated the risk of data loss as a result of computer or hard-drive theft, as well as data transmission interception between a computer and the datacenter, by implementing the optional SSL encryption technology (SSL tunnel) included with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops,” said Bajor. “We are maximizing the utilization of our resources and adapting faster to business needs by eliminating dependencies between hardware and the operating system. Also we can easily and rapidly create new desktops, which gives us a great advantage in workplace provisioning.”

Additionally, the company is experiencing radical reduction of its helpdesk workload, reduced footprint of user equipment, and the option to provision a uniform model of the virtual desktop solution equipment. In view of the fact that the average power supply of a thin client uses 10 times less wattage than that of a traditional PC workstation, the deployment of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops also resulted in significant energy savings within the organization’s IT infrastructure.

“In terms of cost and operating efficiency, we are experiencing a significant reduction in LAN maintenance and upgrade requirements. We have improved data security throughout the operating facility when accessing desktops by using RFID proximity cards, while at the same time creating more flexibility and mobility to our users. Each user has their own dedicated virtual desktop with a roaming profile configured within the Windows system and its rights managed by active directory. So regardless of which terminal they log in from, each user is sure to get their own individualized desktop.” said Bajor.

With Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops, JSW S.A. has experienced improved flow of documents and data, while also ensuring that the costs of implemented IT solutions remain low. In addition, the management of physical desktop workstations has been simplified or even eliminated in some cases, greatly improving overall quality. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops provides JSW S.A. the benefits of improved data security with better performance and end-user experience, all while providing a more flexible desktop to end users.
 

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