Toyota Tsusho Africa Selects FlexPod for Data Virtualisation with Measurable Results

Toyota group company cuts hardware footprint by nearly 85% across the board in virtualisation project

When Toyota Tsusho Africa (TTAF) made the decision to move its business into the cloud, it turned to EOH and its partners NetApp and Cisco as well as local distributor Westcon’s Comstor business to assist in building a converged datacentre infrastructure that would pave the way to the cloud.

TTAF is a subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho Corporation, which is one of the 18 Toyota group companies. Toyota Tsusho Corporation employs in excess of 31,000 people globally, with 2,400 in Africa. The company primarily provides automotive services and products to 23 countries throughout the African continent.

“We approached this project with a single objective – finding the best way to consolidate and virtualise our existing infrastructure,” says Clifford Theunissen, general manager Corporate Information Technology Division at TTAF. “After an extensive tender process we awarded the project to EOH with its proposed FlexPod solution. Their solution combined the best of NetApp and Cisco UCS, which proved the ideal solution to replace the aging technology in our datacentre.

“In choosing a partner for this project our key selection criteria hinged on costs and efficiencies along with the partner’s proven ability to deliver,” he adds.

Within the TTAF technology framework, the company had 66 servers that needed to be replaced and this unwieldy hardware footprint consolidated. After choosing the FlexPod offering from EOH, its next task was selecting virtualisation software. Rather than settle for the most commonly used frameworks, the company opted for Microsoft and its Hyper V solution – making it the first South African customer to opt for a Microsoft Private Cloud solution on FlexPod.

“In our old environment we had no disaster recovery capability, which meant that if one of our SAP environments were to fall over it could take us up to a week to recover. With the FlexPod implemented, our disaster recovery timeline is greatly reduced and streamlined,” adds Theunissen. “Disaster recovery was a critical consideration and one of the main contributing factors for the new implementation, as was the need to free up team members that previously had to run daily maintenance checks on these old systems.

“Service and technology consolidation was a pressing and contributing factor as to allow for software and application collaboration, such as with Microsoft SharePoint, which our current technology was unable to do.”

The technology environment of TTAF now comprises the FlexPod solution as its unified architectural framework, with a Cisco Blade and Cisco Nexus switching infrastructure. From a software perspective, Microsoft and TTAF have a strategic relationship. BackOffice products within its environment, including SharePoint, Exchange, Office, SQL and the System Centre suite are all implemented on the FlexPod private cloud, while its Enterprise Resource Planning system is made up of the SAP solution.

Future plans for the implementation of a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and thin client architecture are also planned. Another benefit of the FlexPod offering is the agility it offers, whereby flexibility is the driving factor for consolidation, backup and recovery as well as dynamic workload adoption all executed from the same Data Centre platform.

“Looking ahead, we are relying on the new infrastructure to provide quicker access to data across the network. An objective that is all the more achievable given that we are already a month ahead in the process because of the improved performance of the solution,” he adds. “Our partnership with EOH has also helped in the process – they have been flexible and accommodating in their approach to the relationship with us, as well as in their costing and the manner in which they have managed the implementation process.”

Benefits of the FlexPod solution cited by Theunissen include the fact that its adoption didn’t require a rip and replace exercise. TTAF could deploy a parallel migration strategy, which made switchover between systems seamless and with very little downtime. In addition, the system’s ability to scale up and out was a major factor, particularly when compared to competitive products in the market. “I believe it will be a tough task for competitive vendors to challenge what NetApp and Cisco have with their FlexPod offering,” he says.

“Another big plus is that the project has forged ahead in record time and the team has been able to meet all business requirements ahead of schedule. The administration side has also been easier than anticipated, though of course we will be sending members of our team for training to ensure they stay abreast of the technology and can better manage it internally,” says Theunissen.

TTAF was also able to dramatically reduce its number of racks from five to three and its servers from 66 rack mounted servers to 8 blade servers in their datacentre environment, while its 12 servers per site have now been reduced to 2. This is assisting the company to considerably reduce its carbon footprint and allowing it to adopt a more green IT approach.

“At TTAF our approach to working with customers and clients is centred on mutually beneficial partnerships. To date we have been able to draw that same kind of relationship from the EOH, NetApp and FlexPod teams, which has fitted in seamlessly with the Toyota Kaizen way,” adds Marc Thomson, General Manager of the Corporate Planning Division at Toyota Tsusho Africa.

At present all expectations from partners and the technology have been met and the full ‘go-live’ is scheduled for December. End user migration is happening in November and all other service migrations, such as its SAP service will take place in December.

“The project thus far has been a resounding success and the next phase is to realise the benefits we have mapped out, especially with regards to costs. Once we have achieved these, future initiatives from within the business will leverage the FlexPod implementation bringing indirect savings to TTAF whilst further reducing costs,” concludes Theunissen.

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Toyota Tsusho Africa Selects FlexPod for Data Virtualisation with Measurable Results