Nutanix , a leader in Enterprise Cloud computing, has announced the private cloud deployment of SAIC Volkswagen, a Sino-German joint venture between Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC Motor) and Volkswagen Group.
The speed and ease of deployment enabled the automotive giant to continue innovating efficiently without worrying about the fundamental IT support needed across its many departments ranging from research and development (R&D) to manufacturing, transportation, logistics, car sales and consumer relations programs.
SAIC Volkswagen’s business critical applications ¬– including the corporate internal management system, reporting system, and process management system, as well as the POC test server for new product solutions – are supported by over 1,000 servers with a lean, 20-strong IT team. The deepening of IT applications, which requires web-scale infrastructure with higher flexibility and leaner scalability, has increased the need for efficient delivery of information services for a company that sells more than 2 million cars a year.
The tight coupling between daily operations and company objectives mandates a more efficient IT infrastructure. SAIC Volkswagen’s IT team faced three challenges in operations and maintenance during the past years. First, there were the management and maintenance costs surrounding their legacy three-tier datacenter. The costs of each tier (compute, networking, and storage) had increased significantly, compounding with the resource needs of the rapidly expanding applications and services needed to support business growth.
Second, due to the diversity of applications, each with unique requirements, it was difficult to match compute needs with available storage performance capabilities. The situation caused deployments where applications were underutilizing their hardware or attached to storage that far exceeded the performance need. This level of waste was unacceptable to SAIC Volkswagen.
Third, the options to scale-up the storage was limited by the inherent complexity and technical limitations of the storage vendor. In addition, it also required lengthy internal procurement process, causing delays in meeting the demand from the various departmental application owners.
Seeking to overcome these challenges, SAIC Volkswagen completed thorough market analysis concluding on the decision to run a private cloud deployment proof of concept (PoC) with Nutanix. During the PoC, it was discovered that procurement and maintenance costs were reduced while the internal procurement process was streamlined. This drastically reduced the response time to requests from various business departments delivering more agile support with better control functionality.
“After the initial test, we found that the Nutanix enterprise cloud solutions were very much consistent with SAIC Volkswagen’s plan for private cloud in terms of both functions and performance. Some of the features are so impressive that they went beyond our expectations,” said Wang Chunxiao, project lead at SAIC Volkswagen. “In addition, the distributed storage of Nutanix saves us the trouble of buying the entire fibre-optic network and centralized storage, which makes it very appealing and advanced from the cost, management and horizontal expansion perspectives.”
Wang was particularly impressed by the ease of use and management of the Nutanix solution, specifically around “one-click” system upgrades. “To upgrade the system, all you need to do is click the button to upgrade. All the Nutanix nodes would be automatically upgraded in the background, and the front-end users would not even notice the upgrade during the whole process.” A complete ‘hassle-free’ solution,” is how he described it. Tasks in the previous environment, based on manual operations, which would typically take two days now only required one to two hours. The efficiency brought by an automated one-click process makes Nutanix a perfect fit for teams with limited manpower, letting the IT teams focus on higher value tasks for the business.
The rapid deployment and launch of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud solution not only accelerated the R&D of new products and shortened the time to value, but it also saved valuable space and power in SAIC Volkswagon’s datacenter. The Nutanix platform only required 4U of rack space, drastically lower than the minimum of 20U required by the previous three-tier solution.
“During this age of digital transformation, traditional companies have all embarked on the path of IT transformation one way or another,” said Matt Young, SVP and Head of Asia-Pacific and Japan at Nutanix. “For companies that have invested heavily in IT applications, the optimizing of IT architecture has become an effective way to boost competitiveness. As a global leading automotive company, SAIC Volkswagen has a complex structure and a large business portfolio, and its experience of private cloud infrastructure can be of high relevance and educational value to many similar organizations.”