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WAMGROUP manufactures and supplies equipment for bulk material handling, dust filtration, waste water, mixing and vibration technology. WAMGROUP has commercial and manufacturing presence in 43 countries around the world. It employs 2400 employees globally and has a turnover of 380 million Euros.
When earthquake, Emilia, threatened the business, WAMGROUP decided to strengthen their branch office disaster-recovery capabilities. They wanted to be able to instantly recover their business and get their data and server rooms away from the high-risk earthquake zone. WAMGROUP deployed Riverbed SteelFusion branch converged infrastructure to replace physical servers at its sites with virtual machines and consolidate its servers and storage into a managed data center while maintaining local performance and lowering costs. Now industry standard virtualization and automation capabilities enable WAMGROUP to protect and backup its data in a secure environment, instantly recover its business in the event of a disaster and reduce its IT footprint.
Limited disaster recovery and large IT footprint
In the past WAMGROUP’s main computing resource had been hosted from a large server room supporting around 600 users at its headquarters in Ponte Motta di Cavezzo near Modena, Italy. The company is highly dispersed with many of its 13 branch offices running their own physical servers and backup processes. WAMGROUP’s production and assembly plants are located in close proximity to their end-user markets to speed-time to market with facilities in Germany, Croatia, Romania, Malta, Turkey, USA, Brazil, India and China. As strategic sites it is essential that these facilities are able to work effectively and WAMGROUP were managing a vast server infrastructure across all their sites.
Being an R&D intensive manufacturing company, WAMGROUP regularly moves large SolidWorks CAD data files about its business. The performance of this application is critical to the business. In 2010, WAMGROUP chose Riverbed SteelHead™ to optimize the wide area networks supporting the production sites in Croatia and China and to guarantee the performance of WAMGROUP’s enterprise applications at these sites. They chose Riverbed over Blue Coat due to SteelHead’s superior functionality and integration capabilities and the support provided by the Riverbed team.
In May 2012 two earthquakes hit Northern Italy in quick succession. Nine days apart they caused widespread damage. Situated close to the epicentre, WAMGROUP’s head office was severely damaged, wiping out its server room and displacing employees many of which were in important R&D roles and corporate functions. It was therefore vital to get operations up and running as quickly as possible.
Consolidation, virtualization, and optimization
To future-proof their business for other such catastrophes, WAMGROUP decided to create ‘serverless offices’ by virtualising and managing their main servers in an antiseismic, redundant and high-availability data centre outside of the ‘at-risk’ zone. “We used SteelFusion to remove our physical servers at each of our sites and replace them with virtual machines running on the Riverbed VSP” said Mr. Malavolta. WAMGROUP was then able to run services virtually at all of its sites–without having to deploy and manage standalone servers.
WAMGROUP deployed Riverbed SteelFusion to extend centrally managed virtual machines, applications and company data to their distributed users. This provides fast provisioning at the branch from the data centre, as well as fast recovery in the event of a site failure. Since compute power access at the site actually resides in the data centre, there is no risk of data loss at the branch site in the event of a disaster. WAMGROUP were now in a position to be able to restore operations in a matter of minutes and centrally protect and secure their important applications.
The manufacturing company opened up two new temporary offices to accommodate the displaced employees and were able to provision them from the data centre. “From the data centre we can now reboot and restore the virtual servers at any of our sites in minutes”. Riverbed created virtual machines so we could be operative in a very quick time said Mr. Malavolta. “SolidWorks performed as if it was being managed locally despite it being hosted centrally hundreds of kilometres away. SolidWorks generates extremely complicated design files requiring huge amounts of data. Opening them can take a matter of hours. Thanks to Riverbed we could get these files to the relevant sites and opened within a matter of minutes”.
SteelFusion enables WAMGROUP to take advantage of its central storage area network (SAN) resources, eliminating underused private storage contained within the physical office servers. This has helped maximise the data centre investment, reduce IT footprint and make the company more efficient. SteelFusion’s storage delivery controller interfaces with the SAN and projects virtual machines and data to the corporate office and branch sites from the data centre. Physical servers have been moved to the core and consolidated whilst virtual machines are projected to the edge. Backup operations are now centrally managed simply and easily allowing for quick provisioning and recovery.
WAMGROUP now has a converged branch infrastructure which has consolidated its server, storage, networking and virtualisation into the data centre for use as needed. “Thanks to SteelFusion we no longer need to host our data and important systems in high-risk areas. We are now able to instantly recover the business if needed and provide disaster recovery IT support in minutes. At the same time the virtualisation aspect is making better use of my storage capacity and centralised resources to the extent that we’ve seen the return on our investment after 6 months said Mr. Malavolta. “Our design engineers see the same high level of performance as they were getting previously but their work is now contained within a more resilient and secure environment”.
“With Riverbed SteelFusion, we’re now much more resilient as a business. We can now provision, manage and recoverservices at any of our sites from our central data centre. Whilst business continuity was our business driver, it’s also good to know that our new model has a much lower cost of ownership than before”