Central management, backup and key infrastructure for the AGROMĚŘÍN Group

Using DELL hyperconverged technologies and VMware and Veeam software, we proposed a solution for the key infrastructure of geographically distributed datacenters of a major company in the field of agricultural and food production.

Realization 2022

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Customer profile

AGROMERÍN. It is one of the largest domestic agricultural and food holdings. With an annual turnover of 4.7 billion and nearly 1,300 employees in various locations in our country, working mainly in rural areas. There are two fundamental challenges for the IT infrastructure hidden in this. The first - how to cope with geographically distributed data centres across the country. The second, and even more important: how to ensure that during implementation and operation, there is not a single hitch? Because it's not just about the money in operations, but often also about the lives of animals.

The important thing to start with. Don't imagine food and farming operations as portrayed in newsreels or the movie series Sunshine. The days of collective farms are gone. And farms are full of machines, technology and data. Especially in AGROMĚŘÍN, which deals with the complete agricultural production and subsequent processing of primary agricultural commodities within the framework of food production with the aim of offering customers in the Czech Republic wholesome food produced according to traditional recipes using modern technologies.

With the warranty and support for the original data centre coming to an end, we knew we had to look for a new comprehensive solution - both for the server infrastructure and for secure backup. Turning to AUTOCONT a.s. and its team of professionals was an obvious choice for us. We liked the proposed solution and therefore decided to accelerate the replacement in the other 2 locations where the corresponding(smaller) configuration was used. A very important and also beneficial part of the project was the centralization of data center management and backup.

Aleš Holoubek

IT

Baseline and project objectives

The customer was using technologies for key IT infrastructure that were ending support from the manufacturer. This situation forced the customer to look for a new suitable and reliably secured solution. AGROMĚŘÍN operates one main and several other secondary data centres in major locations and it was therefore necessary to ensure that all data centres were under a single management with maximum centralisation.

Several options were offered to resolve this situation. Due to the customer's good experience with software-defined storage for VMware and Veeam BR backup, it was suggested to continue with these, already known, technologies. Our long-term experience in the field of IT services also led AGROMĚŘÍN to choose us again for this new IT infrastructure project.

Benefits

  • Central management and administration of the entire IT infrastructure and its unification
  • Minimizing the need for service windows and downtime impacting end users during infrastructure security upgrades
  • Multiply increased security in the event of a cyber-attack on company data
  • Ability to geographically relocate and provide performance from another data center in the event of a complete failure of a secondary site

Solution

At the beginning of the project we faced our first big challenge. For mutual satisfaction, we had to comprehensively understand how the customer currently operates, how it has grown from the previous design 7 years ago, identify critical IT processes without which the customer will not ship, invoice or produce. Working with the customer's IT department, we translated this problem into lots of graphs and charts with which we were able to design an appropriate solution. This is based on the Dell VxRail hyperconverged platform and therefore VMware vSAN, with which our specialists have extensive experience.

The main and the highest performance solution went directly to the primary data centre in Měřín. Its smaller copies were then deployed in secondary data centres. It was always 2 nodes per site. These were sized so that in the event of a failure of one node, the entire load could be handled by the other - without the need to limit the services of end users. Outside of these data centres, an Exagrid deduplication backup unit is located at another site. This is where all data centres store their backups. Thanks to the application of time locks, the solution also has a high resistance to ransomware attacks.

Although we didn't encounter any major complications during the project, we managed to knock out half of them during the first VxRail nodes update. However, everything bad is good for something. This fact only led to confirmation that the data center can run at full strength even with 50% of the hardware resources down. Here it is good to keep in mind how necessary it is to have the support of the solution manufacturer and how necessary it is to have the solution under support.

The implementation of the solution went quite smoothly thanks to the professional IT team in Měřín. During the six months of work, both teams worked together in a perfect way. While our specialists dealt mainly with the initial wiring and commissioning alongside the old infrastructure, the customer took care of the seamless migration of data from the old solution to the new one.

The customer has been running a modern datacenter for several months now without the slightest complication. The biggest changes have been in the increased availability of critical business processes as well as over a complete overview of all critical sites from a single point. This is also aided by our central monitoring as part of the service contract.

Used technologies

  • VxRAIL hyperconverged infrastructure from DELL on AMD platform
  • VMware vSAN and vSphere virtualization for all datacenters
  • VMware vCenter Standard central management solution
  • Central backup with Veeam BR VUL
  • Primary backup to dedicated servers / NAS at each site
  • Central backup for all data centers to deduplication storage with Exagrid time locks
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