Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 72 - Page 52

CASE STUDY
Trapped under legacy
Fueled by its acquisitive nature , Alviva grew significantly in a relatively short time , resulting in a cornucopia of legacy systems , infrastructure and platforms that were unable to interact with each other . The biggest threat to the business was that it had no official Disaster Recovery solution or offsite backup . This was a huge risk , not only from a compliance aspect , but also from a Business Continuity point of view , in the event of a full system failure . Before 2019 , the IT team had tried and failed numerous times to create a centralised data centre , backup , and DR solution .
“ The process had failed because it was always attempted in-house , making it prohibitively expensive . The storage and compute requirements just for Alviva day-to-day operations are significant . Then , we wanted to duplicate this hardware investment , and even as are a technology distributor with access to tech at a reduced cost , it wasn ’ t affordable ,” said van Heerden .
A risk facing Alviva was the absence of redundancy in its infrastructure . This was driven by the fact that its infrastructure was made up of loosely cobbled together systems acquired from vendor partners , often as demo stock , resulting in a volatile environment .
The migration process started with identifying all business-critical ERP systems , which extended to roughly 30 physical servers . Because of the complexity of the Alviva network , all conflicts across its multiple data centres , routing access rules , and myriad systems must-have been resolved before deploying on to the VMware Cloud , including conflicts within existing Hyper V environments . But , the process only took two months , after which the team was able to start replication of its 60 Office servers .
The project was an evolution . Instead of stopping at just a DR solution , Alviva started unpacking the total value and benefits of VMware Cloud . The conversation also began to shift to a more national multi-site focus .
“ We have a truly strategic partnership with Alviva . Even though the initial ask was to provide DR for critical virtual machines , as Morné became more aware of what ’ s possible with the VMware Cloud , it opened new doors . Solutions appeared to problems that were not expected or anticipated . As a result , the capabilities , and outcomes of the Alviva environment expanded ,” said Andrew Cruise , CEO , Routed .
Turning a challenge into an opportunity
“ There were numerous outages and a lot of downtime incidents . In a distribution business , downtime is an atrocity . Every minute you are down , you aren ’ t making sales or pushing volumes , so you aren ’ t making money . If we didn ’ t right the problem , the impact of a complete system meltdown without a proper Disaster Recovery and backup environment would have left us dead in the water ,” he added .
Avoiding complete business failure
The answer to its problems became immediately apparent when van Heerden and his team met with Routed , a VMware Cloud Verified Partner , who came in with a solution approach that entailed a cloud hosted DR environment in its Johannesburg data centre . While the IT team had been mulling over a cloud strategy , the core and immediate need was a robust Disaster Recovery environment that could serve the whole group .
“ Routed immediately understood that it would be challenging to keep up if we had to purchase our own hardware . I had worked with its VMware Cloud in the past , so while the partner came in with a solution and not a product , I was immediately comfortable with the technology proposed because it ’ s easy and comparatively stress-free to expand capacity ,” said van Heerden .
The new environment immediately delivered a highperformance , high-availability infrastructure that , at a VMware layer , integrated seamlessly with the Alviva production systems . And , according to van Heerden , his team can spin up a complete replica of a production system in less than 30 minutes , and operations continue uninterrupted .
Alviva now has DR capabilities in Routed data centres in Cape Town and Johannesburg , with backup data services in both . When the company starts to look at moving production servers over , it will leverage these capabilities . According to van Heerden , what was going to be “ bog standard ” DR has become a true strategic enabler to the business . And it ’ s a scalable environment that hosts data locally which is critical considering the local data sovereignty requirements that demand in-country locality and data residency .
“ What we achieved in just six months supersedes the initial scope of what we wanted to achieve with VMware Cloud . I would never have thought we could , in a reasonable time , spin up all 300 to 350 of our servers in a Cape Town data centre without investing a single cent in hardware ,” said van Heerden .
From a risk factor , by using VMware in its cloud environment and being a local company with local services , Routed has become firmly entrenched as a
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