KRIBHCO Shyam Fertilizers Limited Powers its Mission-Critical Mailing and Backup Solution on Red Hat Enterprise Linux

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November 2, 2010

Customer: KRIBHCO SHYAM FERTILIZERS LIMITED

Industry: Manufacturing
Geography: APAC
Country: India


Migration Path:

Microsoft Windows running Microsoft Active Directory to Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Postfix mailing solution, Squid Proxy server, clamd anti-virus solution, Samba server

Hardware:

Intel processor-based IBM System x servers

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Business Challenge:

KSFL requires a highly centralized business design. “With respect to IT needs, it just means that as a process-oriented company, we need to build a reliable, robust, and stable IT environment, but at the same time the system must be cost-effective,” said P. S. Dey, head, Information Technology, KSFL.

KSFL’s manufacturing plant is located in one of the remote areas of India where there was no broadband Internet connectivity until November 2007. Until that time, KSFL had limited access to a dial-up internet connection through WLL. With the installation of the broadband Internet connection, there was a strong need internally to create a central mailing solution. “We wanted a mailing solution that was cost-effective, reliable, workable, and most importantly, comfortable in usage as well as in maintenance,” said Dey.

Along with the mail server, other relevant requirements also surfaced. “We wanted to implement a software-based firewall solution,” said Dey. “Additionally, we also wanted to incorporate web proxy and caching server and an anti spam / anti-virus (AS/AV) solution to protect the mail and the machines from a virus attack.”

KSFL was running a Microsoft Active Directory (AD)-based environment for its Windows desktop machines. KSFL was finding several pain points in this AD-based solution. “To begin with, we wanted to have a system that could take the automatic back-up of user’s key data and scan the machines for any viruses,” said Dey. “The backup would ideally be quota-based with set quota limits for each user. It should also be easy to specify which files or folders needed to be backed up.” KSFL also wanted online access to the backed up data for easier browsing. This mandated that a hybrid solution be designed to work along with the already existing AD-based environment.

Solution:

With reliability, robustness, stability, performance, and cost-effectiveness in mind, KSFL’s IT team decided to adopt Red Hat as its trusted technology partner. Red Hat Enterprise Linux was an ideal fit as it not only met these criteria with its built-in Postfix mailing solution, but it also allowed KSFL to utilize the commodity hardware and avoid proprietary vendor lock-in. Postfix is a Sendmail-compatible MTA that is designed to be secure, fast, and easy to configure with its modular design.

“Implementation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux was one of the key milestones in our IT deployments as it was the first time KSFL was implementing an open source solution,” said Dey. While zeroing down on the mailing solution, KSFL evaluated proprietary options such as Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange. “The upfront, as well as ongoing investments, needed were exorbitantly high for the user base of around 200,” said Dey. “When compared to Red Hat Enterprise Linux with the built-in Postfix mailing solution, the initial investment needed was at least four to five times higher, while the maintenance costs were also higher by at least two times,” he added. In addition to the cost advantage, Red Hat Enterprise Linux was also fulfilling KSFL’s other criteria of robustness and stability. So in December 2007, KSFL decided to utilize Postfix as part of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Along with the mailing solution, KSFL also implemented a Linux-based software firewall and an open source Squid proxy server.

Apart from Red Hat, KSFL never considered any other open source vendor. “Red Hat, as the world’s open source leader was the obvious choice,” said Dey. “Additionally, the proof of concept completed using Red Hat Enterprise Linux was highly successful. Red Hat solutions were fulfilling our need of reliable and robust IT solution, which is also cost-effective,” said Dey. Red Hat’s subscription model also provides KSFL with a predictable total cost of ownership (TCO), while also ensuring that there is no continuous outflow of revenue for updates and upgrades. Currently, there are about 150 users utilizing Postfix as part of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. “The solution is working smoothly and is also easy to manage.”

For resolving the pain points in the backup solution, KSFL implemented a Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based backup solution, which co-existed with AD with Samba as the main interface. With this system in place, the new users are now created in AD, and a log in script allows them to access the backup Red Hat Enterprise Linux server.

The quota for each user on the backup-server is specified through a GUI. Each user specifies the files such as doc, xls, pdf, and .pst, among others that need to be backed up, and the folders that contain these files. These files are backed up to the Linux box, which can also be accessed graphically through a browser (on a non-windows box), and through network-neighborhood on a Windows box as well. All the backed up files are scanned for viruses and infected files. If any are moved to a quarantine folder, then a mail alert is sent to the individual user updating him/her about the infection(s). Similarly, in case of a crash or individual file loss, data can be restored by the individual users.

Currently, the above hybrid solution is used to backup the data on 50 client machines. Apart from Samba server, which is used as an interface, and the Red Hat Enterprise Linux server, which is used as the underlying operating system, the GUI and other utilities are developed in Perl, bash, and PHP. The anti-virus solution is the clam anti-virus demon. “Because of the Red Hat-based solution, we now have a virus free, quota based, end-user driven backup environment,” said Dey. “This is an excellent solution, which is robust, workable, and extremely cost-effective.”

The maintenance of the systems is highly simplified. “With Linux-based systems, there are no issues of virus attacks, memory leakages, or stack overflows, which lessens the maintenance effort significantly,” said Dey. KSFL has not faced any unplanned downtime in the last couple of years since the system went into production. “We have a total IT strength of eight people, and only one person looks after all these Red Hat-based systems,” said Dey. “And even that single person is not full time on Red Hat’s systems. We have peace of mind with the Red Hat solutions.”

In the future, KSFL is strongly evaluating JBoss Enterprise Application Server as a middleware solution. “Going forward, we plan to evaluate additional Red Hat solutions,” said Dey.

Benefits:

Red Hat solutions have helped KSFL to significantly improve its procurement process. “In the last two years, since the implementation of Red Hat’s solutions, our purchasing activity has been multiplied, which helps us in faster procurement,” said Dey. The mailing solution coupled with firewall, AS/AV, and web proxy solution has helped KSFL to improve its procurement activity by 33 percent.

Red Hat solutions also provided KSFL with lower IT costs, simplified management, reduced systems maintenance, and increased scalability and performance with its mailing and backup solution. “Red Hat solutions allow you to extract more from your systems enabling business growth,” said Dey. Red Hat has also freed KSFL from vendor lock-in, and enabled the organization to build the systems on commodity hardware platforms that deliver flexibility and high performance.

Overall, Red Hat provided KSFL with enterprise-class solutions, which are reliable, robust, and stable at an affordable price without any compromise on performance. “Red Hat’s solutions have improved the agility of our business significantly and multiplied our business activity multi-fold, taking our business to the next level,” said Dey.

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