Case Studies

How NTT Data Gets Smarter With Server Virtualization

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NTT Data North America’s India development center was facing a lot of infrastructural challenges. On one hand, it was striving to reduce server sprawl, while on the other it was struggling with power, cooling and real estate costs. As cloud-based infrastructure matured, NTT Data North America’s India development center – that provides consulting, staffing, managed, outsourcing, and cloud services, used VMware IT Business Management to optimize its infrastructure investments – decided to transform the way it operates.

The company, a subsidiary of NTT Data operates five businesses, including NTT Data North America that employs about 20,000 professionals and generates USD 1.6 billion in annual revenues. The offshore development center in India that employs about 12,000 professionals, half of whom require infrastructure resources to perform their tasks. The Tokyo-headquartered business generates USD 14 billion in annual revenues, and employs 76,000 professionals across 40 countries. 

The key challenges

NTT Data North America’s India development center started its journey to an optimized VMware virtualized infrastructure and private cloud in 2008. Until then, the center was developing software on a heterogeneous server fleet including servers from IBM, Sun Microsystems, and other leading vendors.

Distributed across a primary datacenter in Bangalore, India, and server rooms in three or four other locations, this server fleet ran development environment for offshore business, systems used for demonstrations to customers, critical Enterprise applications, and home-grown tools, like a ticketing system. However, this physical infrastructure was struggling to support NTT Data North America’s offshore development demands, and the business needed to make a change.

“If a team needed a new application server, we would have to enter into an extended and expensive procurement cycle to fulfill their requirements,” explains Parag Desai, Vice President at NTT Data India. “We reached the point where these requests were coming in at such a rate that we were experiencing a procurement gap. To fill this gap, we had to procure high-end desktops that teams could use as servers. At one point we were running up to 300 high-end desktops to provide test environments for teams across the organization.”

When teams did obtain a server, they would typically use a small fraction of its resources as each machine would only be used for a single development run or project.

By 2008, NTT Data North America wanted to stop the proliferation of servers and high-end desktops. Doing so would enable the business to reduce its costs and environmental footprint by recovering real estate in its datacenters and server rooms.

In the same year, Dell introduced NTT Data North America to server virtualization through VMware vSphere 3.5. NTT Data North America conducted a detailed evaluation that made clear the benefits of virtualization, and seized the opportunity to virtualize the servers used for the non-critical activities.

“We virtualized one or two of the three Dell blade servers we were using to run the demo systems, and deployed an entry-level EMC storage area network to provide the required capacity” says Desai.

The success of this first phase in virtualization paved the way for NTT Data North America’s India development infrastructure team to secure trust and buy-in from other teams in the business. The business was able to meet its objective of considerably reducing its datacenter real estate, including from three or four server rooms each in Chennai and Bangalore to one rack for blade servers and one for storage equipment at each location.

Realizing the gains of virtualization

Over the next few years, NTT Data North America’s India development operation upgraded to the newest versions of VMware vSphere within two or three weeks of their release. As cloud-based infrastructure as a service models matured, the operation decided to transform the way it provided technology resources to its development team. “We wanted to fully automate the provisioning of virtualized resources to users,” says Desai.

NTT Data North America’s India development operation expanded its use of VMware products to include the entire VMware vCloud Suite. By late 2015, the operation had completed pilots and proofs of concept, including running a couple of workloads in VMware vCloud Suite, and was preparing to roll a private cloud out into production.

“While at one stage we looked at implementing some third-party tools to provide functionality such as self-service portals, VMware vCloud Suite and associated VMware products offered the functionality and roadmap to address close to 100 percent of our requirements for a private cloud,” says Desai.

VMware’s sales team and Professional Services Organization performed critical roles in helping NTT Data North America’s India development operation develop the private cloud and optimize its virtual infrastructure.

VMware IT Business Management has played a critical role in enabling NTT Data North America’s India development operation to optimize its VMware infrastructure and develop a private cloud. “We were investing considerable financial resources in the blade servers and storage required to support our fast-growing virtualized infrastructure,” explains Desai.

Seeing the real results

To calculate the benefits of further investments in virtualization, NTT Data North America’s India development infrastructure team wanted to obtain metrics around the savings derived from using virtualization to provision virtual machines to users as a service. This enabled them to calculate the per-unit cost of infrastructure resources such as memory, processing and storage, enabling it to calculate the cost of virtual machines. This enabled the team to generate reports and invoice project teams and the broader business for their use of infrastructure resources.

Moreover, the release of VMware IT Business Management gave the infrastructure team an opportunity to obtain even deeper insights into the use of virtualized infrastructure by the business. The team undertook a comprehensive, four-month assessment of the value VMware IT Business Management could deliver to the business.

“We found we could undertake trend analysis to support budgeting and forecasting, including utilization over the previous few months and likely utilization for the following few months,” explains Desai. “We can calculate whether our existing capacity is likely to meet our requirements, or how much additional capacity we are likely to require and the investment needed.

 “VMware IT Business Management also enables us to customize values to more accurately reflect the returns we are achieving on our investments,” he said, adding, “We look forward to building on the value delivered by VMware IT Business Management and other VMware tools with the launch of our new private cloud.”

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