Chitale Ensures Smooth Dairy Operations With Virtualisation
Chitale Dairy has established high availability of IT systems by virtualising its data centres with the help of VMware infrastructure.
A reputed food brand in Pune, Chitale started its dairy operations way back in 1939. Today, it boasts of one of the most advanced dairy infrastructures in the state. Its dairy plant is based in Bhilwadi, a quaint village in Maharashtra, which is about 230 kilometres away from Pune city.
Chitale Dairy currently satiates over 30 percent of Pune's demand for milk. It produces about 4,00,000 litres of milk daily and also markets value added milk-based products like cream, butter, yogurt and shrikhand. Chitale Dairy recently virtualised its data centre to improve the availability of critical business processes. Let us see how the dairy achieved success with this implementation.
Rising Complexity in Server Environment Led to Virtualisation
All the operations at Chitale Dairy, right from milk collection, processing, packaging up to distribution are highly dependent on IT systems. Milk collection and processing at the plant has to be done 24/7/365. "It is very important that our processing operations are executed without any sort of delay. If there is any delay, the milk will get converted into curd and will not be available for desired use or consumption," says Vishwas Chitale, director, Chitale Dairy. Thus 24/7 availability of IT infrastructure becomes extremely crucial for smooth running of operations.
The dairy used to face various operational challenges with 10 physical servers spread across two data centres in the same premises. Even if one server went down, the IT team had to perform the physical installation, which used to take around 6 to 7 hours, to bring back the server. Besides, the company had a diverse storage setup from RAID 0 to RAID 5 for its various servers, which added to the complexity of the data centre environment.
As Chitale's plant is located in the interiors of Maharashtra, the company found it expensive and challenging to both source and retain qualified IT support staff for its data centres. Scarcity of IT staff, growing complexity in the server environment and the need for 24/7 availability of IT systems, compelled Chitale to consolidate its two data centres into one virtual data centre using VMware infrastructure.
The Process – Converting Physical Servers to Virtual Servers
VMware infrastructure solution essentially consists of two components, ESX server i.e a host and Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM). The ESX has been installed on Dell blade and Tyan servers, which are connected to iSCSI and FC storage. Besides, the old PDC (primary domain controller) was converted by P2V (physical to virtual) tools. All the servers can now be managed from a single window of VIC (Virtual Infrastructure Client). The servers can be deleted as well as restored at the flick of a button. "With this feature, the maintenance of servers has become extremely simple ensuring the smooth availability of applications," says Chitale.
The basic process of implementation involved the hosting of an ESX server, which was deployed within 20 to 30 minutes. The next step was to host a VIM server, which took about two hours. Finally, the dairy converted all its physical servers into virtual servers as a culmination of this process. This transformation from P2V (Physical to Virtual) was quite time consuming and hence, was conducted during night time to avoid any sort of negative impact on the business.
Before implementing virtualisation, the company had to convince its top management about the cost involved in the whole process. Chitale says, "The top management was a bit apprehensive about investing in this software. However, we were able to convince them that this investment will not only provide day-to-day operational relief, it will also help us save hardware costs in the future."
Agility Gives Additional Confidence to Business
With virtualisation of its data centre, Chitale has been able to reduce its IT infrastructure and operational costs. Going further, virtualisation has lent new agility to the business. The VMware solution has helped Chitale Dairy to streamline and enhance its IT environment. System reliability and availability have improved, which was crucial for smooth business operations. The VMware software helps to create clones and snapshots of applications and servers, which has enabled the company to deploy applications at the snap of a finger. This facility has significantly shortened the company's deployment cycle.
With a consolidated data centre, the company can administer its virtual server environment from a centralised location. Post consolidation, Chitale Dairy has slashed its power, cooling and real estate requirements to half, reducing total costs and the organisation’s overall impact on the environment.
Looking at the Future
After consolidating its data centres, Chitale Dairy is now looking to establish a robust disaster recovery site at a different geographical location. The company has plans to have the same hardware replicated at the new site. Once again, by using VMware, the company wants to establish file wise duplication of data at the new DR site. The ultimate aim behind building a DR site remains the same i.e. maintaining high availability of systems.
The company is also busy developing an in-house Web-based ERP system, which will enable seamless integration of all the processes across the dairy. "This will establish a good example for the food processing industry," concludes Chitale.
The partnership has helped save on expensive real estate rentals and capital expenditure without having to expand the server room.
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