Building-Materials Company Migrates Data Center to the Cloud within Two Days

... to the cloud and back in two days!

A German manufacturing customer, known for its high-quality plastic and metal products for the building industry, has successfully migrated its entire data center to the cloud within two days. With a history spanning 50 years, this family-operated business has grown from a small team to a global workforce of over 5,000 employees across four continents, and has achieved sales that exceed €1 billion.

The company's Chief Technology Officer (CTO) highlighted the importance of this migration, stating, "Our growth in the recent past, coupled with increased compliance regulations, necessitated the investment in a secure and robust virtualization platform." Consequently, the firm already virtualized a significant portion of its IT infrastructure using VMware vSphere.

Faced with the urgent need for renovations and upgrades at one of their European data centers, the company engaged comdivision, a consultancy, to explore their options.

The challenge

The project faced a tight deadline, requiring the renovations to commence within two weeks and minimal downtime. This was critical as the data center is adjacent to a production facility. The plan included a brief two-day period to transfer data to a temporary location and another two days for the return; the weekend was utilized to minimize impact.

Initial discussions between comdivision architects and the customer's IT team considered several strategies, including:

  • Renting equipment and building a temporary data center.
  • Expand one of the existing data centers.
  • Use Cloud options.

The first two options were initially brought forward by the customer’s team members. Several issues were identified by comdivision architects:

  • The timeframe to rent and the resources needed to install the equipment didn’t work out.
  • The existing data centers were almost at capacity.

Then, other issues arose: the environment in the various subsidiaries, which had grown over time and had been optimized for local requirements and efficiency, was lacking in compatibility (this is another issue that comdivision is working to resolve for the customer). Lastly, the transfer window of the data also posed an issue, since additional migration tools would have to be set up and tested.

The solution

Under the guidance of Chief Architect and VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) Yves Sandfort, comdivision recommended the use of VMware Cloud on AWS services for this project.

“We have recently invested in training our specialists to provide consultation and architectural services regarding VMware Cloud on AWS environments for our customers,” said Sandfort. “In addition to the other four Master Competencies, we are proud to be the first to have achieved the VMware Master Competency for this solution offering in the DACH region,” Sandfort continued. “Because of this, my colleagues and I were confident that VMware Cloud on AWS was almost tailor-made for an undertaking like this.” Because VMware Cloud on AWS utilizes the same vSphere-based SDDC stack that the customer employs within their on-premises data center, there was no need for time-consuming re-architecting. Moreover, the infrastructure administrators could continue using the familiar vSphere user interface without the need for retraining. With VMware HCX, data could be live migrated to the enterprise-grade infrastructure hosted in an AWS data center near the production facility, which leverages the AWS network enabled low latency and high bandwidth network access without imposing additional load on the cross-company MPLS network.

Thus, there was no downtime for the majority of users; not even the planned two-day maintenance window was necessary. Some VMs, running on a host with specific hardware acceleration features of the processors, required cold migration to facilitate changes in the CPU settings. What appeared to be a challenging task during the planning stages turned out to be almost a non-event.

The result

The migration to the cloud was flawless, completed in less than two days. "VMware Cloud on AWS has saved the day,” the CTO said enthusiastically, "and we were particularly impressed with the commitment comdivision demonstrated in their projects," he added. The next step for the company is to analyze how VMware Cloud on AWS can be integrated into their existing disaster recovery plan and whether it can be leveraged in their expansion into the Asian market.



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