Company Facts:

  • Industry: Network, Datacenter, Managed Service Provider
  • Headquarters: India & Singapore
  • Size: 8,000 employees in 38 countries

The Business

It’s no secret global CIOs struggle with an incredible amount of complexity. While building new systems to enable business innovation and time-to-market, they must operate hundreds of legacy workloads, on dozens of platforms, in far reaching locations. Meanwhile, they are faced with business users bypassing IT to deploy shadow systems.

This move to Bimodal IT challenges CIOs to carefully balance resources for both agility and stability. These leaders, therefore, require a digital transformation of their IT architecture to systems with flexibility and control, and a technology partner to help get them there.

Tata’s Tier 1 global network provides enterprises with data, voice and video services over a 700,000 km fiber and IP network

With world-class infrastructure and managed services, Tata Communications is ready to guide this digital transformation. Its Tier 1 global network provides enterprises with data, voice and video services over a 700,000 km fiber and IP network that forms 24 percent of global Internet routes. And comprehensive managed data center services offer a million square-feet of space in over 50 locations.

Tata Communications’ OpenStack-based managed IZO™ Private Cloud, moreover, is the cornerstone of its enterprise IT transformation services with strong infrastructure flexibility and systems control. And critical to this private cloud offering is the company’s own journey to incorporate technologies and partners to support the solution.

Challenges

Global organizations increasingly rely on technology to innovate and beat the competition. Business executives have an insatiable demand for SaaS applications and E-commerce teams depend on big data analytics. Finance and engineering require dynamically scaling systems and sales mandates mobile and secure access.

New workloads, however, must integrate with legacy systems. Thus, IT needs solutions to connect old deployments with new ones, public with private, and physical with virtual. Furthermore, these integrations must not lead to a loss of control, such as systems use without IT oversight, which could result in increased security or compliance risk.

Working closely with hundreds of IT leaders, Tata Communications’ executives understood these challenges. In early 2014 they developed a vision to deliver managed private cloud services with freedom of integration choices combined with comprehensive compliance. To complement their existing hosting and public cloud services, these executives envisioned a powerful managed private cloud to lower IT limitations and increase control.

“Enterprises are under pressure to deploy new applications and services in the cloud, but they must integrate them with existing systems and processes,” says Karthikeyan Subbiah, VP of Technology & Services Engineering, Tata Communications. “Thus, CIOs are often working in an environment of disparate services and struggling to maintain control.”

To enable business flexibility, Tata Communications’ managed private cloud would allow the choice of infrastructure, virtualization, and operating systems and easily integrate with legacy IT systems. The service would also support bursting of workloads, in a hybrid architecture, to external public clouds such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

To maintain systems control, the company outlined a self-service management console for orchestration of customers’ global IT resources even outside the private cloud. In addition to provisioning, monitoring, and managing systems, the portal would integrate to IT service management (ITSM) solutions to track events in a configuration management database and ensure compliance.

“We liked OpenStack’s flexibility and modular architecture which closely matched our need to deliver freedom of choice to customers” – Karthikeyan Subbiah, VP of Technology & Services Engineering, Tata Communications

Tata Communications’ managed private cloud offering would also provide secure connectivity over its Tier 1 global network as well as infrastructure and application support. It was an ambitious plan but fully aligned with enterprise IT requirements. And when completed, it would provide a much needed remedy to CIO’s overwhelming complexity challenge.

But to deliver this service, Tata Communications needed a flexible, enterprise-class platform that could grow with their clients’ needs. The company understood the shortcomings of proprietary technologies that lacked freedom of choice. Rather, it favored open source solutions.

When exploring OpenStack, Tata Communications’ leaders saw immediate value in the open source cloud platform including agility and control. They believed the technology could provide the foundation of their IZO™ Private Cloud.

“We liked OpenStack’s flexibility and modular architecture which closely matched our need to deliver freedom of choice to customers,” says Subbiah.

Solution

For the managed IZO™ Private Cloud service, Tata Communications needed to offer vendor agnostic infrastructure options. “Our solution had to be modular and flexible to fit the customer’s IT environment, not the other way around,” says Subbiah.

In 2014, while researching platform options, the company’s leaders found OpenStack to have the flexibility to pair a wide range of servers, storage and networking solutions, as well as virtual machines (VMs), operating systems, and databases. Furthermore, the vibrant OpenStack community of platform engineers, software developers, and vendor architects was constantly sharing new integrations and management tools.

“An OpenStack based private cloud, for example, can easily integrate with Cisco, Fortinet, Juniper, Radware, and many other networking solutions. Or the cloud can leverage software defined networking,” says Gurdeep Singh, Product Development, Cloud Computing and Managed Security Services, Tata Communications.

With confidence, the company decided to build their managed IZO™ Private Cloud on OpenStack. For the global IT orchestration framework, Tata Communications built a solution featuring a single pane of glass connected to ITSM systems to provision, monitor and manage resources while maintaining compliance. For cloud connectivity, customers would use an MPLS or VPN solution over its Tier 1 network.

Next, Tata Communications selected Mirantis over others for OpenStack cloud design, development, and support services because of its strong team and consultative approach compared to others with product-centric and more prescriptive approaches. The company’s cloud team worked closely with Mirantis experts on the design and custom integrations.

“Mirantis was not prescriptive in their approach. They listened to us and quickly understood our needs,” says Singh. “Their experts are extremely responsive and solution oriented, and their executives have a strong vision of how OpenStack can evolve with changing market needs. We’re very happy with our strong Mirantis partnership.”

Tata Communications also highly values Mirantis’ 100 percent pure play OpenStack strategy of having strong relations with many infrastructure providers but no vendor lock in. And they also appreciate the ability to quickly create custom integrations for the Fuel software, included in the Mirantis OpenStack distribution, which rapidly deploy and manage their cloud components.

In early 2015, the OpenStack-based IZO™ Private Cloud became available to a limited audience and then more broadly available in October 2015. Already, many customers have received benefits such as a finance company with a premise-based virtualized application that was scaling poorly on aging hardware.

The customer migrated this workload to the IZO™ Private Cloud in two datacenters and now has a high performance application with extensive disaster recovery capabilities. With the cloud platform’s flexibility, application servers run on VMs while the database sits on bare-metal compute platforms.

Leveraging the self-service portal, business teams are now able to adjust capacity on the fly, speed time-to-market, and carefully monitor chargebacks. Other teams at this customer will soon deploy additional workloads to the dedicated managed cloud.

Tata Communications’ private cloud solution is now open for global deployments across fifteen data center locations including Hong Kong, India, Singapore, UK, and the U.S., which allows proximity to end-users and helps customers meet data residency compliance. The IZO Private Cloud nodes are located at or in close proximity to Tata Communications network points of presence (PoPs) which allow customers to leverage the benefit of having a single provider for network and cloud services and better meet end user expectations.

Currently the IZO™ Private Cloud is helping dozens of enterprises on their digital transformation journey. And to accommodate fast customer growth, the cloud can scale up to 50 times its current capacity of thousands of VMs.

Results

Another customer in the industrial sector was having trouble managing a broad set of workloads across many groups with distinct IT architectures. The company needed to consolidate systems and implement a disaster recovery solution to streamline operations and ensure business continuity.

To address this challenge, Tata Communications moved each group’s workloads onto the IZO™ Private Cloud with the option to deploy on VMware or KVM hypervisors. Using a hybrid architecture, the company’s dedicated private cloud integrated with Tata Communications’ other hosting and data center services and outside resources.

The solution now delivers IT services to many business groups, providing the power to orchestrate and scale workloads on the hypervisor of choice and manage chargebacks. Tata Communications also crafted a digital transformation plan to migrate additional applications and disaster recovery services to the IZO™ Private Cloud.

Using a hybrid architecture, the company’s dedicated private cloud integrated with Tata Communications’ other hosting and data center services and outside resources

To support customers’ digital transformation journeys, Tata Communications continues to invest in the OpenStack community and, in fact, sees the growth of OpenStack as being on a journey of its own. As such, it believes in making meaningful contributions to the community including the “Intelligent Workload HA in OpenStack” April 2016 Summit presentation with Intel and Mirantis. Tata Communications also expects to benefit greatly from others’ contributions.

“The OpenStack community combined with Mirantis’ support services give us the confidence we have the right platform for today and into the future. OpenStack allows us the flexibility to integrate our cloud with customers’ unique environments, and that’s what we need to strategically differentiate and compete in the market,” says Singh.


Summary

The Solution

  • Provide cloud agility with infrastructure choice
  • Increase customers’ IT flexibility and control
  • Leverage connectivity and data center services

The Result

  • Mirantis OpenStack-based cloud platform
  • Orchestration console for full enterprise control
  • Choice of server, storage, network, VM and OS

The Benefits

  • Increased infrastructure agility and choice
  • Improved control of IT resources
  • Enhanced flexibility for future integrations

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