Mitel consolidates Unix systems as part of ILM project

Ottawa-based IP communications company Mitel recently completed a $3.5 million, three-month server and storage consolidation project that executives said helped it save hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating costs, increase systems performance

and reduce the overall footprint of its IT infrastructure.

Mitel, in conjunction with long-time partner Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co., has consolidated over 12 of its existing Unix systems, which power a majority of the company’s mission-critical applications including SAP R3 and BW systems, to two HP 9000 servers. The project, which started in February 2004 after Mitel’s lease on its older HP equipment was almost up, is the first phase in Mitel’s overall information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy. As part of Mitel’s 20-year relationship with HP, the two companies jointly service enterprise and small business customers’ end-to-end IT and communication infrastructure requirements. Mitel also uses some of HP’s intellectual property in its product development around Voice over IP.

“We built out a capability that gives us a very solid foundation and very flexible and agile foundation that means we can be more responsive to people’s projects,” said Simon Thompson, vice-president of information systems at Mitel. “We’ve increased our rate of delivery of various application projects that we wouldn’t have been able to do in our older environment.”

When dealing with legacy systems, Lloyd Bryant, vice-president and general manager for HP Canada’s customer solutions group, said one of the most critical components is ensuring compatibility of applications in the new environment.

“This is an area where we really felt — and I think Mitel agreed — we offered the lowest risk in terms of the migration because of our proven track record in deploying mission-critical applications like SAP and other applications within their environment on a wide range of HP platforms,” said Bryant.

Mitel’s Intel systems, which handle its business and office productivity applications, have been consolidated onto over 50 new HP ProLiant BL blade servers in Canada and 20 in the United Kingdom. The servers, which run on a mix of Microsoft Windows Server NT, 2000 and 2003 operating systems, deliver virtualization capabilities that automate and simplify manual IT management tasks and reduce overall TCO. While Mitel intends to migrate its servers to the 2003 platform, it had to deploy two 2000 servers because some applications will not run on the most recent release, said Mitel data centre manager David Grant.

With the new infrastructure in place, technicians can deploy an image to a desktop in two to three minutes.

“We get all the flexibility and benefits of a rapid-deployment scenario without having to buy the additional hardware and software licenses that that requires,” said Grant.

Mitel has also expanded its storage capacity with the migration of its file and print cluster off of its Compaq Storage Area Network (SAN) device onto two clustered HP StorageWorks 3000 and 5000 Enterprise Virtual Arrays (EVA) on the backend. Mitel has also deployed server monitoring tool HP OpenView Data Protector, which is centralized on two HP StorageWorks MSL tape libraries.

With the new storage equipment in place, Mitel has eliminated the three tape operators for its tape library in the last two years. While tape is still Mitel’s primary form of backup, Grant said it will be going to disk-based primary backup starting later this year.

While HP wouldn’t disclose what percentage server and storage consolidation projects account for out of total enterprise business revenue, Bryant said these types of projects remain a strong driver in this division.

“Consolidation, simplification and building a more adaptive IT environment is the primary driver behind many of the projects we’re involved in Canada and globally,” said Bryant.

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