Rockwool: Cutting expenditures and increasing performance with customized data center

Over the last couple of years, Rockwool has consolidated IT services from all subsidiaries centrally in one department. This means that the entire IT operation has been centralized in one data center spread across two locations to ensure that fire or power outages on one location doesn’t cause down time for Rockwool.

Conscia has helped Rockwool with design and implementation of a new data center which has been customized to match the stone wool producer’s needs regarding both performance and budget size. The solution is very scalable and geared for even higher performance, if the need arises. Finally, Rockwool has secured the setup with a 24/7 service agreement on vital components of the new data center.

Focus on budget and performance

“We had a set of goals when we started out planning the new data center setup,” says Infrastructure Operations Manager Jan Elberg about the process leading up to the design of the new solutions, and adds: “On a general level, IT services had to be centralized in Denmark in a redundant data center with a solid disaster recovery plan.”

For Rockwool the plan means that the IT department has specified how fast business systems can be reestablished in case of break down.

Rockwool was determined to meet the requirements as cost-effective as possible: “There’s very good standardized solutions on the market, but we chose a solution that precisely matched Rockwool’s specific requirements,” says Jan Elberg and continues: “For now, we require high uptime. But when we, for example, have to move or update applications and software, it is in most cases acceptable if some systems go out of operation for a short period of time. Right now this won’t have any effect on the business.”

High integration across product portfolios

In order to meet Rockwool’s requirements as precisely as possible Conscia prepared a custom made design. The new redundant data center consisting of Cisco network, Cisco UCS servers and EMC VNX storage was spread across two locations with 11 kilometers in between, and parts of the network were then virtualized.

Rockwool was very focused during the design phase on choosing the right products from the right manufacturers. EMC, Cisco and VMware is part of the new data center solution exactly because of a high integration across their product portfolios. With Conscia as partner on the project, Rockwool was guaranteed an experienced and highly certified technical expertise in the data center.

“Rockwool and Conscia has worked closely together on both design and implementation of the data center, and we have benefited greatly from being able to continuously share knowledge on all data center technology areas,” says Jan Elberg.

Cutting expenditures through virtualization

With the new solution, Rockwool has virtualized the data center network, which means that several functions, which previously ran on their own specific hardware, are now located on the same hardware. Virtualization of the network has been followed up with server virtualization, and new Cisco UCS servers now help minimize and make more efficient Rockwool’s server farm.

With the new virtualization strategy, Rockwool ensures that they get the best possible utilization rate on as little physical equipment as possible, while at the same time reducing operating costs. This is partly because reduction in the number of data center components ensures that running costs on rent, service costs, power, and cooling are lowered.

The connections between the two data center locations are designed in order to be as cost efficient as possible. With multiplexing over fiber, Rockwool can make do with fewer fiber connections between the data center locations. This reduces expenditures to service providers, while it will also be both faster and cheaper to increase capacity between the data center locations in the future.

Customized to current needs and built for the future

Rockwool has built an infrastructure that is tailored exactly to the current business needs. Jan Elberg is satisfied that it has been possible to find the right balance between expenditures and requirements to data center performance. He’s also glad that the requirement for a future proof data center setup has at the same time been met. And the solution is indeed very scalable: Rockwool can very easily secure an even higher service availability by making use of active/active date center technology, if the need arises.

“A cost effective approach to the data center design only makes sense, if you at the same time plan for the future. We will quickly squander any savings from spending cuts, if we are forced to make redesigns of our infrastructure each time new performance levels are required,” says Jan Elberg.

Service across technology silos

Another future-proof measure, which functions as a cornerstone in Rockwool’s disaster recovery plan, is a service agreement with Conscia. The agreement ensures that Rockwool 24/7 all year has access to Conscia’s consultants, which means immediate help with troubleshooting and debugging, in case of incidents in the data center. As was the case in the design phase, Conscia is especially suited to servicing Rockwool’s data center, since they have deep knowledge of both network, server, storage and virtualization equipment and design in the data center.

“With our data center infrastructure, it doesn’t really make sense to look at network, server and storage independently. Instead, it should be looked at in its entirety. This is why we particularly benefit from working with Conscia, who has the overview of the IT infrastructure and are able to take responsibility across the silos,” Jan Elberg adds.

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