Intro: To ensure smoother project implementation without compromising on server uptime, Grind Master chose VMware suite of applications for its focused approach to providing effective virtualization. On applying the solutions, the company saved significant costs on power and cooling, and on hardware maintenance.
About Grind Master
From humble beginnings in a garage, to boasting an enviable client list of MNCs, Grind Master Machines sure has had an amazing journey. The company owes its success to technology-driven innovations that have led to the first indigenous Automatic metal finishing machines. In 2002-03, upon signing a licensee agreement with IMPCO, USA, for GBQ Technology used in micro-finishing of Crankshafts and Camshafts, Grind Master joined the small elite group of companies worldwide which have the capacity and expertise to manufacture niche sophisticated metal finishing machines.
Today, the company makes over 350 machines every year and boasts the widest product range in its manufacturing sector. With over 200 highly skilled and dedicated employees, Grind Master is a World Class Machine builder, with a proven track record of successful new concepts and cutting-edge technological machines and solutions for special purpose applications. Grind Master currently exports almost 70-80 per cent of their production.
To keep up with the growing business pace, Anand Deshmukh, Senior IT Manager, Grind Master, decided to virtualize the company’s server infrastructure in 2011. Initially, when he approached his management with the proposal, he faced a few roadblocks. “It is especially difficult to explain new-age technologies like virtualization in Non-IT companies and win the management buy-in,” he says. However, once he convinced them, business soon realized that the decision was an excellent one. Today, embellished with the suite of VMware products behind them, Grind Master is fully energized, and the company is surging ahead with speed and efficiency.
Grind Master wanted to ensure faster provisioning of servers for business to ensure smoother project implementation without compromising on server uptime.
Opted for server virtualization and chose VMware VSphere Suite of applications.
Achieved on-demand provisioning of servers to cater to dynamic business requirement.
Moved mission critical applications to a virtual platform while maintaining 100% uptime.
Saved significant costs on power and cooling, and on hardware maintenance.
Challenge: A slow infrastructure that was delaying business
Grind Master’s primary interest in virtualization was triggered by the same factors that steer other companies towards virtualization, such as server sprawl and slow turnaround on server provisioning. The vital reason for virtualization was, however, the management’s need to align business with IT says Deshmukh. “Business wanted the IT infrastructure to function in an agile way so as to enable optimum performance; therefore they expected that the downtime should be negligible and this was something that VMware’s reliable vSphere platform could provide.”
Previously, the company ran a complex ERP environment supported by up to 12 physical servers. Being an innovation-driven company, they developed numerous applications that need to be hosted on a testing server before being eventually promoted to the live application. “Because of the nature of the business, every application needs to be tested before it can be taken live and we needed to maintain separate servers for that purpose,” adds Deshmukh. “Today the challenge for IT is not to simply maintain ‘live data’, the primary test for IT is to maintain legacy data along with various ERP environments, under development applications or projects, which are accessible to developers and trainers and also to respective users. To share dedicated hardware and to host the development application for such applications and projects along with licenses is not a cost-effective solution and it massively increases the project budget.”
Besides that, Grind Master requires a dedicated server that handles their PDM (product data management) application that is specific to their design requirements under the CADCAM 5 application. “This was crucial given that product design and development is core to the company,” Deshmukh explains. “We also run a primary domain controller and an additional domain controller, which played the role of a security server and runs programs such as McAfee EPO 4.6 along with HIPS (Host Intrusion Prevention Systems), DLP (Data Loss Prevention) and End Point Encryption.
Customer is king approach
At Grind Master, the fact that customer is king evident from their dedicated focus on catering to specific customer requirements on a prompt and individual basis. For example, when a new design is developed, it has to be made accessible to the customer. In a few cases, Grind Master has to host the customer’s servers at their end till the design is approved and commissioned to the customer.
Given that each customer has a unique requirement; Grind Master was maintaining several server cycles, especially since each customer expects a dedicated server for storing their data and programming files. Having to maintain such a diverse server infrastructure was soon proving to be a headache for the IT administrators. “Besides, procuring new hardware would take days – sometimes weeks – thereby delaying business decisions,” laments Deshmukh.
However, virtualization changed all that. After the implementation of VMware vSphere technology, he is thrilled to say, “now it is so easy that we can create virtual machine VM at any time in a few hours or less. We can also use the existing resources for temporary servers if it is really required. Now, with VM in place, we are able to achieve our targets on time. Virtualization not only improves manageability, it really reduces administrative overheads with negligible downtime.”
Solution: Server virtualization provided all the answers
The need for greater speed and agility coupled with the impending hardware refresh concerns, made virtualization seem like a perfect choice. Having made the decision to virtualize, choosing a vendor was a no-brainier for Deshmukh. Grind Master decided to partner with Expert Group and Avnet as their implementation partner for VMware. Their journey began with them purchasing a double rack blade server (IBM VCS Blade Server) from IBM and a storage (VNHC 3100) solution from EMC that was recommended for their new virtual environments. With a brand new virtualization-ready infrastructure, Grind Master deployed VM ware’s vSphere suite of applications with update 1, V-Center, VMware ESX, V-Motion, HA (High-Availability) & (DR) Data Recovery.
Grind Master began the process of implementation in March 2011. Previously, they had 12 physical servers which they reduced to a single server, running eight virtual machines. The company took a phase-wise approach towards migration starting with the non-critical applications first and then gradually migrating their whole ERP (Microsoft Dynamics Ax 3.0) and database to the virtual platform.
It should be noted that Grind Master did not go for the maximum physical to virtual consolidation and that was a conscious decision. The reason for Deshmukh’s choice was simple. “We wanted a smooth transition. The beauty of virtualization is that it allows adding VMs as we go along. We have not saturated the capacity and that has given us the freedom to scale as we want. Given the dynamic nature of business, this was a big advantage that VMware brought in.”, explains Deshmukh. “Grind Master has plans to add many servers in the future as well as a plan for desktop virtualization.”
While the process of implementation was altogether smooth, Deshmukh relied on the expertise of partners. The few issues that one might face with virtualization were also dealt with speedy precision. For example, the company initially had a few doubts on licensing but it was immediately cleared by VMware’s prompt response on the subject. Deshmukh was particularly impressed by the level of customization that the virtualization project allowed him to do.
Benefits: Savings on all fronts
Grind Master’s virtualization journey, from 12 physical servers to a single server running 8 virtual servers under a single rack, has brought in savings on all fronts. Their capital expenditure has been reduced by 50 per cent primarily because of licensing. The number of licenses required by Grind Master has come down from 10 to five.
On the OPEX front, the biggest saving came in the form of energy with a reduction of 80 per cent of costs. Besides significant savings in power and cooling costs, the company is also benefitting from the robustness and the agility provided by the VMware vSphere platform. Deshmukh is most pleased about the fact that he can flaunt to the management – his new introduction has never failed them.