The Department of Defense saves millions, builds an agile, private cloud

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June 10, 2013

The Department of Defense (DoD) hired technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton to transform its aging and inflexible architecture into one that supports elasticity and flexibility during spikes in user demand.

Customer: Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

“The new Red Hat-based architecture is also enabling the flexibility to do things that the organization’s acquisitions businesses wouldn’t have been able to do a few years ago." Cameron Mayer senior associate, Booz Allen Hamilton

Geography: North America
Country: United States


Business Challenge:

The Department of Defense (DoD) hired technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton to transform its aging and inflexible architecture into one that supports elasticity and flexibility during spikes in user demand.

Software:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat JBoss Middleware, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

Hardware:

Sunfire x4170 and x4640 servers

Benefits:

Using Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, Red Hat JBoss® Middleware, and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Booz Allen Hamilton created a private cloud and elastic infrastructure that saved $5.1 million through fiscal year 2015 and increased agility and flexibility.

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Background:

Booz Allen Hamilton Founded in 1913 by Edwin W. Booz, Booz Allen Hamilton is one of the oldest and most prestigious technology consulting firms in the world. Booz Allen Hamilton was recognized in 2012 as one of the best consulting firms to work for by Consulting Magazine. Despite a challenging and unpredictable marketplace in recent years, in 2012 Booz Allen Hamilton’s revenue increased nearly by 5% to $5.86 billion, and Booz Allen Hamilton was named by Fortune magazine as one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies.” This complements numerous other awards the firm received in 2012 in recognition of its high standing as a business, employer, and community supporter.

Business Challenge:

Red Hat Innovation Awards

An annual award competition, the Red Hat® Innovation Awards celebrate the innovations powering the future of technology for organizations globally. Selected by an esteemed panel of IDC and RedMonk industry analysts, technology writers and contributors from both InternetNews.com and TechCrunch, and Red Hat executives, a winner is recognized in each of the seven categories. From these categories winners, the Red Hat Innovator of the Year is selected by the online community for transforming their company’s IT infrastructure with Red Hat solutions.

Army client challenged by inflexible physical infrastructure with end-of-life Hardware

The Department of Defense (DoD), a governing body of all divisions of the United States military, needed a new technology solution for one of its divisions. This division had a physical hardware-based infrastructure that drove more than 80 individual legacy applications that, in turn, supported the organization’s acquisition functions. Some of these applications analyzed the health of various programs and generated heavy loads of reports, which senior personnel used to determine which DoD initiatives to fund. The organization worked with technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton to find an appropriate solution.

The client’s old infrastructure consisted of more than 120 end-of-life Oracle SPARC machines, mostly running Solaris, and could not scale to handle unpredictable workload spikes during heavy use of the applications. For example, during heavy reporting periods—usually driven by activities in Washington, DC—the systems would experience a traffic surge. Performance would suffer, slowing down the flow of information to decision-makers until new physical servers could be provisioned.

In addition, the legacy applications were running on multiple hardware and operating system platforms, creating high operational costs. If the team wanted to virtualize—thereby reducing capital expenses (CAPEX) necessary to buy new servers and operating expenses (OPEX) required to manage them—it would have taken IT professionals as long as 2.5 weeks to configure a Linux virtual machine. And because such machines must conform to the DoD’s stringent security technical implementation guidelines (STIGs), it would have then taken an additional week to install, configure, and customize a development environment on that virtual machine. This extended time spent managing standard system administration tasks negatively impacted the IT team’s resources, which were needed to focus on future application updates and the building of new features.

“We were asked to develop an infrastructure that would make this particular DoD client much more efficient and effective,” said Munjeet Singh, senior associate, Booz Allen Hamilton. “The client decided it wanted to move into a consolidated environment that would be able to scale up resources automatically so they wouldn’t have to scramble to procure and configure physical servers to meet and sustain the demands of increased workloads.”
 

Solution:

A complete, integrated solution with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat JBoss Middleware, and Red Hat Virtualization

Booz Allen Hamilton needed three different types of solutions to meet the DoD’s demands:

• A stable, reliable, and secure operating system that allowed for easy maintenance automation and other management tasks, and that served as a strong foundation for cloud architecture

• A low-cost server virtualization solution that was robust and full-featured enough to build an infrastructure capable of supporting dozens of web-based applications, along with cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) capabilities

• A middleware solution to enable a cloud “engine” and the creation of business rules and process automation for scaling the infrastructure on demand

First, the firm replaced the DoD’s 120 end-of-life, proprietary Oracle SPARC servers with 15 Sunfire x4170 and Sunfire x4640 servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.

In the new infrastructure, all physical servers were virtualized using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.0, able to run more than 80 virtual machines in a private cloud environment. Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization provides the DoD program users with advanced virtual machine metrics reporting, reduced downtime, and rapid provisioning of virtual machines. Using cloud architecture concepts, the DoD program deploys a self-provisioning portal with application programming interface (API) connections to Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. Internal developers can now provision their own systems and speed up the development process.

In addition to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Booz Allen Hamilton used a third Red Hat technology, Red Hat JBoss® Middleware, which includes Red Hat JBoss Business Rules Management System (BRMS), one of the core components of the cloud computing controller, or engine.

“We found significant synergies by using all the Red Hat products together: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and Red Hat JBoss Middleware,” said Nirmal Mehta, associate, Booz Allen Hamilton.

The DoD is in the process of deploying to production this powerful combination of JBoss BRMS and other open source software, thereby enabling a more dynamic infrastructure. Today, more than 70 web-based applications that serve more than 80,000 users worldwide are running on this new infrastructure.

Benefits:

Dramatically deducing TCO, DoD enables new operational efficiencies

Using Red Hat middleware, virtualization, and platform technologies together, the client achieved substantial savings of $5.1 million through fiscal year 2015. Factors contributing to these savings include:

• Reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) across the operations and management activities involved in maintaining the systems
• Reduced licensing costs for Oracle products and the costly operations of legacy hardware
• Deployment of modern infrastructure, which eliminated problems in system performance during spikes in usage

This infrastructure deployment will enable one of the first implementations of a private cloud with automated elasticity within the DoD.

“It has been recognized and positioned as a strong model for the rest of this DoD organization’s infrastructure,” said Singh. “In particular, the ability to stand up IaaS and PaaS capabilities makes this deployment stand out as a success in the government sector.”

The DoD client will now be able to quickly provision and deploy new virtual machines. Today, intricate knowledge of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat Enterprise Linux is not required in order to develop customized, pre-hardened environments that conform to government STIGs. Since all PaaS implementations are already preconfigured, developers are estimated to save 3.5 weeks of development time, making the DoD’s IT team much more productive.

Not only was Booz Allen Hamilton able to save the Department of Defense money, but the organization’s infrastructure is now much more flexible, agile, and prepared to meet evolving business requirements.

“The new Red Hat-based architecture is also enabling the flexibility to do things that the organization’s acquisitions businesses wouldn’t have been able to do a few years ago,” said Cameron Mayer, senior associate, Booz Allen Hamilton. “The automatic scaling, automatic process execution, and configuration management and monitoring capabilities are streamlining availability of the organization’s services to a bigger set of users, while achieving better response times and delivering a better user experience.”

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